We've just returned from a restorative break in one of our very favourite places to escape the noise and hectic pace of day to day life - the wonderful Glen Dye estate in the Highlands of Scotland.
Glen Dye is a private estate of around 15,000 acres where it is possible to stay in one of their beautifully designed cabins or cottages, surrounded by wilderness forest and moorland on the banks of the River Dye.
The remote and rugged beauty of The Highlands offers the perfect escape if you're looking for somewhere to immerse yourself in the healing power of nature and reconnect with yourself amidst a wild and isolated landscape.
Taking time to unwind and totally switch off was high on my list of priorities - a rare luxury when caught up in the whirlwind of family life and running a small business. In a location where there is no mobile signal, phones were readily abandoned in favour of reading, sketching or playing games and time became immaterial - we were led by our wants and needs, not by the clock. We ate when we were hungry, walked when we needed fresh air and slept when we were tired. How liberating to be freed from the usual constraints of a daily schedule!
Glen Dye is such a special place. Wide open moorlands snaking with crystal clear streams spread out beneath lush green forests, which felt cocooning and enchanting - a flash of white in the near distance one day drew our attention to a prancing young deer as he picked his way through the cloak of trees ahead of us.
The mighty granite tor of Clachnaben sits high above the Glen inviting you to tackle the assent through the forest and out up onto the steep hillside along the track to reach the craggy peak. We set out super early one very misty morning, without considering the weather conditions, so we were not able to enjoy the stunning views once at the summit, but it made for an atmospheric hike nonetheless. The climb along the edge of the forest in the low lying mist was really quite magical.
Sometimes slowing down doesn't always mean switching off.
Engaging the brain in new activity, for example, learning a new skill, can be a great way of calming and focusing the mind. Setting aside time for yourself feels incredibly self indulgent but it' so important to fill yourself up from time to time.
Wood carving is something I've wanted to try for a while now but have never found the time to explore. Sitting around a flickering campfire, carving cups and coat hooks out of fallen birch branches whilst sipping freshly brewed pine needle tea was just wonderful.
There's something incredibly seductive and rewarding about creating new forms from natural materials...Breathing new life into something. There's a lot of parallels with pottery here - much like the, often quite meditative, process of working with clay, the slow, deliberate and very tactile nature of wood carving makes it a very mindful craft
To be still and present in the moment is an art I'd like to master.
Being outdoors facilitates mindfulness for me. Away from the clutter of everyday life. To feel the majesty of Mother Nature, to be immersed in the landscape around me, to be enveloped by its beauty and feel small, to really see and listen and breathe.
The opportunity for outdoor bathing, I've come to realise, must be taken wherever possible! (I'm working up to wild swimming, which is next on my experiential wish list). Whilst staying at North Lodge this year, we relished having our own private Summer House, River Cabin and wood-fired hot tub down on the banks of the river, just below the house.
Filling and heating the water in the tub is a slow, attentive process, this is a task that cannot be rushed. The stove needs to be filled gradually and tended carefully. This is slow, thoughtful living. We must reacquaint ourselves with the art of patience - a skill we seem to have forgotten in the busy, modern world where everything has to be instant.
Soaking in a steaming hot bath amongst the trees, overlooking the river below was an absolute delight for the senses...
...A great way to clear the mind and be still.
It's very hard to leave a place like Glen Dye... to leave behind the vast open spaces, the comforting embrace of the forest, the invigorating sound of the River Dye rushing by, the reassuring presence of the Tor looking over you.
I want to savour that fleeting insight into a life less hectic. This period of isolation was much needed and most welcome.
To enjoy the sense of freedom afforded by simply being....is pure magic.
mhor84.net - we stayed here en route to Glen Dye - a stylish, dog friendly motel with a relaxed, casual vibe, great food and friendly staff. Check out their little shop next door too for unique gifts, homeware and clothing.
glendyecabinsandcottages.com beautifully styled, eclectic properties set within a remote wild landscape, my idea of heaven.
Apart from the many beautiful walks right from your doorstep, each property at Glen Dye is well equipped with games, books and also a record player and plenty of great vinyl.
This time I particularly loved reading 'DO/inhabit - Style your space for a creative and considered life' by Sue Fan/Danielle Quigley.
'Rumours' by Fleetwood Mac was the soundtrack to our adventures at the River Cabin whilst Max Richter was our favourite soundscape for lazy days spent playing, sketching and reading back up at North Lodge.
The Estate Shop at Glen Dye sells wonderful locally produced food and also has a well curated selection of considered lifestyle products.
Finzean Farm Shop & Cafe is a ten minute drive away for locally and responsibly sourced produce. Their homemade Wild Garlic Pesto and fresh Scottish Salmon were amongst our favourites.
This blog post wasn't intended to be a review but there's just so many good things to say about Glen Dye! I also firmly believe when someone does something brilliantly, it's good to shout about it! (I have problem with curbing my enthusiasm for things I feel passionate about ;)
All the good stuff is here - this is simple, considered living at it's best. I've come back feeling refreshed and inspired and asking myself, do we really need all the stuff?