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Brucefield Estate, Clackmannanshire

Underneath The Ochils mountains with pretty Dollar to the north and historic Culross to the south sits the 1000-acre Brucefield Estate, home to three gorgeous luxury Scandi-style eco cabins – Tod, Mertrick and Brock. Welcome to The Schenbothies. Let’s check in.

Brucefield Estate – Scandi-style dog friendly cabins in Scotland

Escaping to a cabin in the woods and indulging in ‘friluftsliv’ or ‘open-air living’ is deeply rooted in the Nordic and Scandinavian way of life – and we Scots have also caught on to the benefits of spending time outdoors. 

The Norwegians love their off grid ‘hyttes’ – and more than half the population of Sweden has access to a summer house – and on an estate in Clackmannanshire just one hour from Edinburgh and Glasgow you can check into your own luxury Scandi-style bothy and indulge in your own version of friluftsliv too. 

Brucefield Estate bothy, Schenbothies
Cabin in the woods Scotland
Schenbothies Scotland

Now Clackmannanshire might be Scotland’s smallest county, but it is a mighty wee one. Skirting the edge of the brooding Ochils with their waterfall-filled glens and ancient tower houses, Clackmannanshire is bounded to the south by Fife and the River Forth, to the west by Stirling and to the north and east by Perthshire.

Below the Ochils are rolling farmers fields and ancient woodlands, and the 1000 acre Brucefield Estate and its three eco bothies – named after the Scots for animals found here – Tod for fox, Brock for badger, and Mertrick for pine marten.

Stay at the eco cabins at Brucefield Estate

Outside, the bothies look like raised traditional-style Nordic huts you might see on the coast of the Lofoten Islands – they have been stylishly designed by a local carpenter – and there is one in a lovely rust, a sleek black and a gorgeous airforce blue. All three cabins fit beautifully with the surrounding estate. Dogs are welcome in the Mertrick cabin on request.

Inside the bothies there is more space than you’d expect and all the Scandi-chic design you could want for – the birch ply walls and spalted Scottish beech floors are warm in the firelight, there is mid-century modern furniture and vintage crockery, a modern bathroom with organic toiletries, a perfectly tiny kitchen and a cosy king size bed up in the loft.

The interior furnishings have been sourced locally – Amy Briton tweeds, Skyeskyns sheepskin. The fire is Danish – perfect for creating that sense of hygge.

A locally sourced breakfast – with fabulous wild hearth sour dough bread – is provided. You can even order in a Brucefield Estate meal kits in advance – we rustled up a one pan roast leg of lamb. Outside the lodge there is a deck over looking the woods and a bbq firepit for an outdoor dinner. Other local food options include Polly’s Pantry, Saline Shaw Farm Shop and the Dollar Deli.

Book the Schenbothies at Brucefield Estate

Brucefield Estate bothy, Schenbothies

Discover regenerative travel at the Brucefield Estate

Once the Barony of Schenbothy (which gives the three bothies their name) the lands here passed through the Stewarts of Rosyth (supporters of Mary Queen of Scots) in the 15th century and to George Abercromby of Tullibody, a cofounder of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. The current owners themselves can trace their lineage back to Robert the Bruce, King of Scots. 

The fields, meadows and woods here at Brucefield are also ancient – the estate is pepper potted with towering 300 year old Scots pines, gnarled oak trees and moss covered stone walls.

Regeneration of the estate is under way everywhere you look – working with conservationists, ecologists and a 10-year wildlife plan, decades of undergrowth and overgrowth is being carefully peeled back to create and restore the habitats for both wildlife and visitors to enjoy. 

There are now meadows with heritage Scottish cattle, a walled garden with fruit trees and the estate’s cottages are being brought back to life with orange pan-tiled roofs and ochre walls. One cottage, Slackbrae is now a gorgeous holiday home. In the future there will be space for foodie events and, maybe, small wedding parties. 

The estate is laced throughout with woodland walks and remnants of ancient history – from witches stones to mediaeval crests. Bikes and wellies are available to borrow from the estate if you want to explore – the West Fife Cycle Way runs past the estate which will take you to Dunfermline and Alloa.

If you truly want to indulge in the Scandi way of life, the estate offers history and wildlife tours – look out for bats, bees, red squirrels. Pine martens are regularly spotted on the estates wildlife cameras.

The estate is also home to hundreds of native Scots pines – we got hands on with Brucefield’s extensive replanting scheme and planting three Scots Pines – helping to bringing this 300 year old designed landscape back to life. This is true regenerative travel – and we were proud to leave behind far more than we enjoyed.

Book the Schenbothies at Brucefield Estate

Heritage cattle
Brucefield Estate

Things to do at The Schenbothies, Clackmannanshire

Beyond the Brucefield Estate is lovely little Clackmannanshire, one of Scotland’s hidden gems. If you can tear yourself away from your cabin, there is lots to do:

Discover The Ochils – towering above Brucefield Estate are the Ochils and the smallest, Dunmyat (pronounced Dum-aye-at) is one my favourite wee hills in Scotland. A walk up the hill path is a great way to spend an afternoon and has wonderful views reaching back down to your cabin and across Fife and Stirling, the Wallace Monument, Perthshire and the Lothians to much bigger hills beyond. 

Read more: how to climb Dumyat.

Visit the lovely town of Dollar and Castle Campbell – just 15 minutes drive north of your cabin is the pretty town of Dollar. There are great cafes (try the Cafe at No 44), a deli for all your snacking needs, a lovely gallery and vintage shop, and a fantastic cake shop (Troy-Ann’s Patisserie, open on Saturdays). Stroll along the high street before climbing up through the beautiful Dollar Glen to the magnificent Castle Campbell.

We walked the Dollar Glen circuit which is managed by the National Trust for Scotland. 

Discover Culross – pronounced ‘cul-ris’, Culross is one of Scotland’s best-preserved and prettiest 17th-century villages. With an Abbey, Palace and Town House once formerly used as a courthouse and a real-life prison for witches awaiting trial on the Firth of Forth. If you are a fan of Outlander, Culross is the base for the fictional village of Cranesmuir. The Mercat Cross square, the Study House, the gardens of the palace and the West Kirk outside the village were all used for outlander filming locations.

Read more: how to visit Culross

Walk the West Fife Woodlands Way – a 10-mile marked route around west Fife. Along the way, you will visit many of west Fife’s gorgeous woodlands including Valleyfield Woodland Park, Balgownie Wood, Devilla Forest and visit a plague grave and the West Kirk (Black Kirk in Outlander) with great views of The Ochills.

Read more: walk the West Fife Woodlands Way

How to get to the Brucefield Estate

The Schenbothies at Brucefield are around 40 minutes drive north east of Glasgow and 1 hour north west of Edinburgh. The closest train station is at Alloa, a 10 minute taxi ride away. The bothies are also located the Alloa to Dunfermline cycle way NCN 764.

Book the Schenbothies at Brucefield Estate

Read more: the best cabins in Scotland

Thank you to the Brucefield Estate for having us to stay