Edinburgh-based travel photographer and writer Caoilfhionn Maguire set off to the depths of Aberdeenshire for a couple of nights away, when restrictions permitted late last year. Here she reports back on her trip to Glen Dye, and why it should be one of your best kept secrets. Follow her @CaoilfhionnRose.
Instagram became my primary source of travel inspiration during our first lockdown in the UK and it is then that I discovered Glen Dye. The rugged, almost Americanised nature of this outdoor retreat caught my attention immediately and I knew that I had to visit.
Luckily for me, this is where I spent my birthday—switching off from the world and reconnecting with myself. While Scotland is abundant with quirky accommodation options, this glamping retreat is second to none. Just 25 miles south west of Aberdeen, and near the picturesque town of Braemar, Glen Dye Cabins and Cottages is a private estate of about 30,000 acres of dense forest. Hidden in the leafy shadows of the Kincardineshire woodlands are wilderness cabins and bothies awaiting the adventurous traveller. From the outset, I knew we were in for a special and grounding experience, especially as we were fresh out of lockdown where life relied on an internet connection. Perhaps the most standout feature of this family-owned and run woodland paradise is The Sawmill. Far from a place to simply rest your head, The Sawmill will ignite your inner adventurer. Simple and humble in ways, utterly luxurious in others, The Sawmill marries together our need for respite with our appetite for reconnection with nature. The traditional renovated Sawmill, where guests can cook meals and play heated games of monopoly in front of the fire, sits centre stage, ringed with fairy lights that lead the way to a 1950s Airstream Safari and a pink-doored Shepherd’s Hut. Both offer sleeping quarters for The Sawmill’s guests, with a beautifully designed bathroom—featuring a hot shower, no less—standing between the two.To maximise the experience, The Sawmills also features an outdoor, rainwater shower for the brave, and a wood-fired Swedish hot-tub for those who prefer something a little more laidback, like stargazing with a glass of red in hand.
The land surrounding The Sawmills and the property’s other accommodation is vast and hugs the River Dye. Long ambling walks through the forest are recommended and the team at Glen Dye provide a bingo sheet for keen wildlife spotters. If you’re lucky, you’ll come face-to-face with the neighbourhood stag. To warm up after exploring, pay a visit to the Glen Dye Arms, the on-site BYOB pub. It’s decked out as all great traditional pubs are, making it a cosy nook to enjoy your tipple of choice. Cooking is pretty easy as each accommodation is kitted out with a kitchen and a Big Green Egg—the King of BBQs. If the weather permits, the latter is a great way of absorbing as much of the great outdoors as possible while preparing meals. Alternatively, Braemar and Banchory have lots of restaurants and bars. Time slows down at Glen Dye and the lack of phone signal and temperamental wifi forces even the workaholics among us to switch off for a day or two. Following a year of uncertainty and stress, Glen Dye Cabins and Cottages are redefining how people holiday, giving guests the chance to reset and reconnect with themselves and loved ones, in surroundings that Mother Nature has designed to inspire.Glen Dye has been Scotland’s best-kept secret, until now — it needs to be top of your 2021 staycation list.