When I am imagining and building a trip from pictures and imaginations and urges, these days much of that is for wildness and open air. Space for the winds to blow and be seen in the grass. No humans for as far as my eyes can stretch. It was on this type of hunt, I went down rabbit trails of reviews, pieces of media, and snippets from social, and somehow, this all led me to Alladale Wildness Lodge, which I started mentioning in the previous post.
Alladale's owner and staff have been working hard for decades to re-wild the landscape with original species of foliage and fauna. And for a property with hills, glens and wilderness filling over 100 square kilometers, this is an impressive task. The lodge is usually reserved for small groups and retreats, but a few weeks of the year, rooms are let on a hotel-basis. I had carefully planned our trip for a few nights there to line up with these weeks. How glad we are! The staff welcomed us, despite our late arrival, with a multi-course, warm meal, drinks in the drawing room, and even an evening introductory chat about the mission and motivation behind Alladale. Lest this become straight up advertising, I'd love to just show you around, as we did.
And the first non-person we met was Logan, the wolf dog whose sidekick was the general manager of the estate. We'll come back to her.
We spent two full days at Alladale, and the first, we took a tour of the property with gamekeeper Ryan, and the second, followed Ryan's guidance on a suggested hike. The directions were mapless, but Walker knew just where to go (I have no internal compass to speak of. Or the one I have is severely misguided.)
The landscape at night had looks a bit like the moon, and in daylight, revealed thick, orange ferns so effusively bubbling across the land.
From the valley, or glen, floor, we slowly gained height, up
closer to the clouds and fog.
Ryan had taught us that the shape of these wild trees was caused by deer eating the saplings before having a chance to gain their height, and they reminded us so much of trees on safari.
Parts of the hike were pretty steep, so I acquiesced to photos more willingly than normal.
Another safari tree aka pine.
And more acquiescing.
The rainbow of rusts and forests as we rose stretched even more diverse.
And yet, my eyes were apparently looking down, finding breath.
We were taking this solitary photo, on a hike with no others,
when here comes Logan, looking very wolf-like indeed. She was friendly, and behind her, the Lodge's manager, out for a full-day hike.
Walker's jealousy at the manager's 8+ hour hike was bursting, watching Logan and him head out into the vast wilderness.
We stayed where we were to take a few photos, and knew we had to turn back for lunch.
Behind every photo is a photography wife begging her husband not to take another step than necessary closer to the edge of the steep, steep hill.
The view and the heights took my breath, yet again,
And just as we turned back from the view, we saw the fog, pouring like steam over the path we'd just walked.
One quick photo, despite the very cold fog. Walker looks unfazed. I am shivering, for sure.
The view we'd just seen was completely clouded over.
And we walked back down in much more MacBethian climes.
All of this remote and wild scenery is not entirely without drama. I am very cold in these photos. And very hungry. And perhaps racing down the hill to get back to lunch.
The wildness of Scotland is what draws us back, our travel north star in many ways.
Lunch was warm bisque and fresh salad, and the afternoon drew dark around 3pm. We cannot rave enough about Alladale's commitment to the land and its ecosystem, from plates of incredible food, to these unmatched views.