I think often of the sorrow of leaving a place I love, whether I have just grown to feel so, or been in its presence for years of my life. In many ways, every place I've lived is inside who I am, and I carry that with me. And also, every place I've visited feels that way, too. When I don't expect, in the middle of a work meeting, one single impression will be in my mind as if I'm there: the evening light, the glow after the early sunset in Scotland.
It is rare to see the orb sink itself, with fog and haar so prevalent, but the clouds lit from below, the world for a moment blue, even brighter than when sun was high.
Leaving Alladale's bounty, full of integrity for each species of the land, held a twinge of sorrow. But arriving at our next destination, Killiehuntly, was equally as full of potential and joy. I think this is what magnetizes me to travel: the opening to a new way or piece of beauty in the world with any movement.
And even before we arrived, on the quiet, one-lane Scottish way leading up to the next estate, Killiehuntly,
we spotted a true bit o' Scotland. After stopping for lunch at a large sporting estate, Rothiemurchus (with clay pigeon shooting, riding, archery, and as we discovered, delicious cullen skink (smoked haddock) soup at the cafe, Druie), just a mile or so from arrival, we spotted an old barracks, crowning the mountain. Metaphor chosen intentionally as they were built for the British to monitor the Jacobean uprisings in the 1700s.
Yes, this place was just sitting up on a hill by its lonesome.
We walked around, with just a few others, the Ruthven Barracks. It amazes me that these structures, older than the United States, remain with such rectitude still.
When we arrived at Killiehuntly, the farmhouse on a large estate doing serious environmental work, we also arrived at the most meticulously designed huddle of buildings, absolutely spotless.
From our first moments checking in, through to gorgeous, vibrant meals, to the yurt sauna and fire pit chats in the evening, Killiehuntly's hospitality and welcome astonished us.
This was the walk from our wee apartment in the hay loft, to breakfast in the main farmhouse.
We stayed in the Hayloft, a separate suite with kitchenette, away from the main house, and loved it to the core. The dark green paint! The Scandinavian furniture! The Japanese towels!
I was literally ooing the enter time. The care the staff put into the place was so felt, and we learned how the staff refreshes everything yearly. It felt both stable and old, and brand new at once--in all the best ways. I sat with candles lit each morning and night feeling the quiet to my core.
I'll share a bit more about our hikes and intro to the landscape in the next post, but we did manage a few unguided jaunts around the property, just walkable right from the Hayloft (which itself was only a 2 minute walk to the main house).
The farm adjoins some national forest being managed by Scotland, and our afternoon walk was dark in the presence of these pines.
In fact, when Walker took these via tripod, I could barely see the road with my normal old eyes. But look how stunning the colors.
Per usual, the damp in the air turned to the finest of rain.
In the evenings, we headed for delicious 3-course meals at the farmhouse, shared with other guests. We loved the dinner conversation and meeting some new pals. And the dijon potatoes I had one night stand out as the best single bite I ate in Scotland.
We sat by the fireplace or walked 50 meters to the fire pit in the evenings,
and in the morning, returned for breakfast, multiple courses of local cheese, fruits, yoghurts, and eggs.
Everything was spotless, delicious, and fresh, even as the November breezes were calming the land for winter.
Sometimes I do not even close my eyes, and 3 months later, can see the light just bursting out of the stone farmhouse's windows in the early evening, or the morning glow illuminating every piece of golden hay. The light in Scotland will always be unrivaled, and coming out of Killiehuntly's heavenly orbit,