Town vs Country
We are townies through and through. Our kids were born in an inner city hospital in East London and, for the first few years of their lives, we lived within walking distance of London’s Kings Cross. It was a huge wrench to move to Zone 3 for better secondary schools.
When they eventually leave home (not that we’re counting the days or anything) we’ll move back into the centre. We talk about it often.
The countryside scares me slightly. My anxiety level rises when we stay in a remote area. My monkey brain yells: “where will we get provisions?” And “what happens if the car breaks down here with no phone signal?” And “Does Uber serve this hamlet?”
Way back in March, a PR agency asked me if we would like to stay in one of Eagle Brae’s log cabins, in the Highlands of Scotland. I’m embarrassed to admit we spent several weeks (yes weeks) discussing if we could travel that far for just a few nights. And wondering if we would enjoy such a wild and remote holiday.
Then talk turned to returning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Mr Maven and I had been many years ago BC (Before Children). We agreed this would be a great opportunity for the kids to experience it too, and we could start our Scottish adventure at Eagle Brae.
Our Highland fling
Several months and a ten hour car journey later, we pulled up to the most stunning log cabin I have ever seen. Eagle Brae may call them log cabins, but I think that moniker does them a disservice. They are luxurious works of art. All ten cabins are hand-made using traditional methods and sustainable materials, powered entirely by renewables.
But this is no hippy, dig your own toilet outpost. They include all the most modern equipment.
The Ardea log cabin
We stayed in the Ardea cabin for four guests, which was built in 2018. We had our own sauna, two sitting rooms, a wood burner, a beautiful bathroom and well appointed kitchen. The kids had the mezzanine floor with their own TV and computer. Their wooden beds had curtains for privacy.
Our large bedroom featured French doors opening onto the veranda, overlooking a duck pond (which the kids had to wade into several times for ball retrieval), with stunning views across the glen.
The concierge service had our pre-ordered food shopping delivered and put away in time for our arrival. A complimentary hamper stuffed full of local produce added to the sense of occasion.
I was stuck by the attention to detail. Hard carved Himalayan wood carvings adorn the walls, little animal footprints are whittled into the stairs.
Nothing is mass produced. The cabins are made from Western Red Cedar, carved by hand in Canada before being reassembled on-site. The roofs are insulated with grass, which is why you won’t be able to see Eagle Brae using Google Earth – camouflage!
The great escape to the great outdoors
There are several activities nearby which Eagle Brae can arrange for you. We booked pony trekking and canoeing. Both were guided by professionals and suitable for absolute beginners like us.
We rode through woodland and over mossy hills on horseback, and canoed through gorges on rivers as still as glass.
Other activities we didn’t have time to try include salmon fishing, dog sledding and clay pigeon shooting. Maybe next time.
Time to relax
The afternoons were spent reading and resting our aching bones. The boys played football on the veranda and enjoyed the sauna.
In the evenings we drank wine and ate simple meals made with local ingredients. I had a long soak in a hot bath. Bliss.
After two full, life-enriching days, our Highland adventure was over. The Edinburgh Fringe awaited, so we returned to our car and drove South.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from our Eagle Brae holiday, it’s that I should embrace the unknown. The countryside isn’t so scary afterall. To think I nearly said no to this amazing experience.
Much love, Vx
[Disclosure: I am so grateful to Eagle Brae for our complimentary stay. We paid for our own travel, activities and food.]