Places to stay: Glen Dye Cabins & Cottages, Scottish Highlands

Places to stay: Glen Dye Cabins & Cottages, Scottish Highlands

Calling all wild things – there’s a corner of the Highlands that might be just your cup of (pine needle) tea. Down in the woods and over a river bridge you’ll find Glen Dye, a sprawling estate home to a cluster of cottages, cabins and camping pitches that have been lovingly restored by the owners into perfect cosy bases for outdoorsy explorers. If you’re craving open spaces, you can indulge your claustrophilia here – you’ll be surrounded by no less than 15,000 acres of forest, moorland and mountain that feel as wild as only Scotland knows how.

While the cottages and cabins at Glen Dye are all different – some modern cow shed conversions, some old forest workers cottages, a charming little cabin on the edge of the river and even a shiny Airstream caravan – they all share upliftingly bright and bold interiors, curated by owners Caroline and Charlie Gladstone. Each house its a treasure trove of modern art and fascinating finds on walls painted acid pink or bottle green. Expect cosy bedrooms upstairs and kitchens stocked with homemade treats downstairs – there are even jukeboxes and gramophones in the sitting rooms for a little boogie of an evening.

The great out-of-doors is the best bit at Glen Dye, of course – as well as going on a choose-your-own adventure over at the new Discovery and Adventure Centre, hiking the hills or dipping in the wild, there are Scandi-style hot tubs, big barbeques so you can sizzle up fish caught right from the river, a pop-up outdoor cinema and even a BYOB ‘pub’ where you can hobnob with other visitors over a whisky.

If you’ve come in search of a new connection to nature, head into the trees and down a forest track to reach Glen Dye’s new Discovery and Adventure Centre. Here, outdoorsy instructors Pip and Stu will bring out your inner woman or man of the woods with wellness and bushcrafting sessions ranging from green wood carving and fire skills to breathwork. We sat cradling cups of pine needle tea as Pip guided us through the myriad benefits of cold water immersion, explaining how ‘constrast bathing’ – alternating a hot sauna with cold immersion – is good for our physical and mental health, reducing stress and releasing feel-good hormones such as dopamine into our system. Then it was time to try a ‘Nordic cycle’, swapping from the comforting wood-fired sauna to an ice-cold tin bath of water. The bath was a decidedly fresh eight degrees and managing just three minutes of sitting still in its chilly clutches felt like a big win, made easier by patient Pip’s breathwork coaching. A few rounds of icy water and steaming sauna make my skin rosy and my mind calm, and the buzz lasted the rest of the day. When we had all warmed up, we sat around the campfire and Stu taught us the delights of wood carving using branches of silver birch. It turns out that shaving curls of wood by a crackling campfire is surprisingly mindful.

If the untutored wild is more your thing, it’s on the doorstep at Glen Dye. On what felt like the first sunny day of the year we hiked straight from our cottage door and up through fresh green woodland and over springy heather to reach the 589-metre summit of Clachnaben, a six mile there-and-back-again yomp with gloriously clear views of the surrounding hills. Back down in the valley, we followed the course of a River Dye to a small gorge for a dip in fresh cold river water the colour of whisky.

‘Keep Glen Dye a secret’ was once emblazoned on the wall of the Coach House, where we stayed, but I think it’s rather too late – the word is out. Wild swimmers and wood nymphs will feel right at home here.

Stay here: Stay at Glen Dye Cabins and Cottages from £150/night, minimum two night stay. Wellness and bushcraft sessions at the Discovery and Adventure Centre run twice a week, £25 per adult. Travel to Aberdeen on the Caledonian Sleeper from £190 for a solo room or £240 for a shared room.