Best for a Highland fling: Scotland - UK - Travel - The Independent

Best for a Highland fling: Scotland

The rain lashed against the windscreen and all I could see was the headlights' feeble beam on the dry stone walls and ghostly lichen-crusted trees that bordered the slick lanes. We were heading north from Inverness, somewhere on the borders of Ross-shire and Sutherland, home to verse-inspiring scenery, but I couldn't see a bloody thing. I coaxed the car on and up. "Drive to Ardgay and turn left at the phone box in nine miles", read the directions and, just as we were thinking we had to be on the wrong road, there was the red box. A left turn, more wet miles, and on to an unmade track. Finally we had arrived at Alladale. The lodge loomed, grey and shadowy like Baskerville Hall and through the deluge we saw the door creak open to reveal ... a very nice man who loaded our three-course dinner in his Land Rover and escorted us to our bed for the night.

We weren't staying in the lodge itself, but in Eagle's Crag, one of the two bothy-style stone buildings up an even more pot-holed track, at what seemed to be the last outpost of civilisation. But this is no spartan shelter. This is modern chic, Highland style, with underfloor heating, deerskin rugs, vast plasma TVs, huge sofas, wet rooms: all the paraphernalia of contemporary luxury accommodation. And although it's nominally self-catering, it's lazy luxury self-catering, where chef's selection is delivered with instructions on how long to put it in the oven. And it's good stuff – soups, salads, fresh rolls, and local produce such as haggis or Highland beef. And venison. Lots of venison.

That first night was approaching freezing and buffeted by gales but we were cosy by the wood-burning stove. Next morning we woke up to clear skies. And the most astonishing view. Eagle's is the most remote accommodation at Alladale and looking west is what appears to be your private glen with the river burbling by, and mountains that slope to 1,300ft above you framing the view. And this is just from the window while you're eating breakfast.

The estate, or wilderness reserve as it aspires to be, covers 23,000 acres. Paul Lister, scion of the MFI empire, bought it in 2003 with a vision to return this remote area to its prehistoric glory as part of the vast Caledonian forest. To achieve this, Alladale's estate manager, the ebullient New Zealander Hugh Fullerton-Smith, is embarking on an audacious programme of replanting hundreds of thousands of Caledonian pines to expand the forlorn patches of old-growth trees, culling the red deer and reintroducing native animal species that can promote tree growth.

Wild boar and elk are already on site. The pair of elk are an imposing sight even from behind a fence. They're not fully grown – when they are, in a couple of years, the male will weigh about 750kg and stand about 2m at the shoulder. One of the most radical plans is to bring back wolves. "Our long-term ambition is to introduce two packs," Hugh told me, "but for that we need 250,000 acres. We would have to bring in the neighbouring estates." For now they've applied for a zoo licence to keep three wolves, eight wildcats, plus the boar and elk, in a 500-acre enclosure. You certainly can't fault Alladale's ambition.

All this worthy rewilding doesn't stop you having a splendid time playing the country gent or lady for the week: there's the full range of Highland sports – deer stalking (at least until the wolves take over, to show how it's supposed to be done), clay-pigeon shooting, fly fishing and riding. And, when the weather behaves, the view isn't bad either. Alladale.com; 01863 755338. Ghillie's Rest (the smaller of the two cottages) is £400 per night, low season, full board

Wild Britain

# You can walk straight up into the heart of the Lake District from the front door of the Michelin-starred Samling Hotel, situated just above magical Lake Windermere. Ask to stay in one of the estate's old cottages – they are beautiful and secluded. Prices from £190 b&b; thesamlinghotel.co.uk

# With its stunning location on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Awe, the 300-year-old Taychreggan hotel has often been voted Britain's most romantic place to stay – and under the friendly management of Fiona Sutherland and her family team, we can confirm that this cosiest of Highland boltholes is performing better than ever. Fabulous dinner, bed & breakfast from £99.50. See taychregganhotel.co.uk

# One of the great figures of modern British cooking, Ian McAndrew was once the youngest Englishman to hold a Michelin star. Now he and his charming wife Jane have relocated to the Scottish Borders, realising a dream by transforming Blackaddie House – a historic country inn amid the spectacular scenery of the Southern Upland Way – into the most welcoming of small hotels. It's well worth the detour from the M74 – and, of course, the food, most of it sourced locally, is quite simply superb. Dinner, bed & breakfast from around £80. Visit blackaddiehotel.co.uk

# Rossahilly House is a beautifully-appointed seven-bedroom house in a secluded setting on the edge of Lough Erne in County Fermanagh. It makes a perfect base from which to explore Northern Ireland's picturesque Lakelands – or try a day's invigorating surfing at nearby Donegal Bay. Prices from £1,700 for a week. See rossahillyhouse.com

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week