I’d be quite happy making my home on a 42-thousand acre, 700-year old Scottish Highlands estate. Especially if my home was to be Lochanshelloch Cottage. Surrounded by redwoods, roe deer and rambling paths which lead to you a rather nice country pub – this is a remote rural hideaway really worth discovering.
In the Highlands of Scotland, 12 miles from Inverness, and home to a castle dubiously connected to Shakespeare’s Scottish Play is the Cawdor Estate. Whilst the estate isn’t actually that far off the A9 it’s worth taking the long way round to get there. Wind your way up through the Cairngorms National Park on the iconic Snow Road to Royal Deeside and pretty Braemar. Stop at the butchers to stock up on comfort food and local whisky.
Then leave the Whisky Trail and tourists of Speyside behind and cross the River Findhorn, where as the roads get windier and the signs become non-existent, you’ll start to wonder if your sat nav is having a laugh and whether a trip to the closest village pub to ask for directions (and supplies) is a good idea. Around just one more corner and across the fields appears Lochanshelloch Cottage, your home for the next few nights. Well, you can’t exactly miss it…
Welcome to the Cawdor Estate
Greeted only by the greedy local deer and a garden complete with a few pheasants, the welcome at Cawdor Estate is low key – all designed to make you feel instantly at home. Oh and what a wee home. Sleeping up to six, downstairs at Lochinshelloch Cottage there is a large country kitchen, a huge well-scrubbed dining table and a cosy lounge complete with open log fire and the ultimate in squishy sofas. There is also a double bedroom with a brass bed hidden under the stairs and a luxury shower room – perfect for scrubbing up for dinner after a long muddy walk. Upstairs, there are two more double bedrooms under the pitched roof with deep mattresses and locally spun wool blankets.
Lochanshelloch’s decor marries-up shabby chic antique shop finds, clashing rugs, sisal carpets and fashion shoot photos. But then the owner is not just the Lady of the house, but also an ex Vogue fashion editor and designer with Holland & Holland and her long term friend, and 90s supermodel, Stella Tennant – and it shows. (The owner is also truly a Lady for the Cawdor Estate is the home of Colin Campbell, the seventh Earl and 25th Thane of Cawdor, and his wife Isabella!)
With four more cottages across the 42 thousand acre estate – Ivy Cottage in the village, and Achneim Cottage next door (ok, nearby) to Lochanshelloch. To the south down by the River Findhorn is a hunting lodge for 22, the delightfully retro wooden Fisherman’s Cottage and a three-bedroom whitewashed bothy which was what was once the home of the Cawdor Estate gardener. Take your pick – they are all gorgeous.
Whilst it is tempting to settle into your cottage and just watch the changing skies and deer outside, the Highlands are on your doorstep and it would be a shame not to explore.
5 Things to do at the Cawdor Estate
Take a walk in the woods (to the pub!) – two miles from Lochanshelloch is Cawdor Village, with its friendly local shop and the Cawdor Tavern which has real fires and real ales from the Orkney (the owners also own the brewery) and a popular restaurant if you want to venture out for food. We discovered you could walk to Cawdor Village in around 30 mins through the pretty Big Wood – pull on your walking boots and try and find the hidden bridges across the Cawdor Burn to get to the pub quicker! – or take the long way around to The Hermitage and Greystone Bridge to discover huge rhododendrons, redwoods and ancient Scots pines.
Visit the 14th century Cawdor Castle – explore the ancestral castle of the Thanes of Cawdor and still the private home of Angelika, the Dowager Countess Cawdor. The Castle gardens are a riot of colour, there is a drawbridge and moat, and stepping inside you are immediately transported back to clan culture. Make sure you descend into the basement where you’ll find the remnants of an ancient Thorn Tree – inside the castle! Note – The castle is now closed to the public but will be open from Saturday 13th April to Sunday 6th October next year.
Walk the Culloden Battlefield – one of Scotland’s most famous war graves, the Culloden Battlefield is just a short drive from Cawdor. With a visitor centre which vividly in sound, light and reconstructions tells the tale of one of the most important hours in Scottish History, a visit to Culloden is sobering and stark – even if you are not long related to one of the clans. Take a walk out onto the field, but please respect it – the Fraser clan who died on this moor have nothing to do with the fantasy Outlander tale. The battlefield is managed by the National Trust for Scotland, free for members, £11 for adults.
Day trip to Inverness – 12 miles to the west of Cawdor is the city of Inverness – and it is well worth a day trip. Walk along the River Ness and the Caledonian Canal, discover Leakey’s Bookshop, take a boat trip out on Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle, visit the Nessie centre and then head back into town to the Black Isle Brewery Bar which serves up organic beers accompanied by delicious pizzas. The Castle pub also serves a huge range of beer overlooking the river.
Explore the Moray Coast – with crashing waves, unique blue waters and pretty fishing villages hugging the coast, I love the Moray Firth. Take a walk on the beach at Findhorn, head for lunch at The Bakehouse or The Bothy in Burghead, and then visit Bowfiddle Rock and Elgin Cathedral. If you want to wildlife spot, the Moray Firth is famous for its dolphins – with a centre at Spey Bay.
…and after a long day exploring, you have your cosy cottage all waiting for you. Grab a plate of local cheese and your whisky of choice – and light the log fire. Time to snuggle in for the night.
Oh Lochanshelloch, can I just move in?
Love, from Scotland x
Thanks to the Cawdor Estate for inviting us to stay!
More of my favourite places to stay in Scotland