A lodge to ruin all lodges forevermore; truly the best way to describe this idyllic bolthole, Old Mill on the Spey is indeed a Highland hideout.
We were invited to stay here by Highland Hideouts, a collection of uniquely beautiful, self catering properties in the Aviemore area, for the weekend and immediately fell in love before even stepping foot inside. Let me take you on a journey…
Driving past the sawmill on the single track road to Boat of Garten you take a sharp left turn under the arch of the old railway bridge (yep, the very same one the traditional steam train crosses) and cross the cattle grid past the new lambs to be greeted by a thousand twinkling lights hugging the trunks of the giant pines that line your walk to the Old Mill. Stepping inside you discover a bright open plan space for relaxing and entertaining and what lies beyond is a warren of five bedrooms, spread over different levels and each one more unique than the last. Having melted over the built in cubby bunk room, the warm wood chalet detailing, giant fluffy beds and luxury ensuite bathrooms with underfloor heating, we eventually discovered the master suite, hidden away on the lower ground floor and complete with wood burner, leather easy chairs, views onto the River Spey and a huge picture window showcasing the workings of the original mill wheel. We had found our home.
Venture out past the most adorable sauna in the land (that is him just down there), round the hot tub on the decking and past the mill wheel and you will find the gardens, stretching right down to the banks of the river and as unique as the house itself. Rocks and stairs and quaint wooden bridges take you on an adventure through this vast space and tucked in the corner you will find the summer house, complete with fridge and fire and the most gorgeous outdoor fire pit where we gladly toasted our marshmallows on sticks, sipping wine, watching the sparks fly into the night air with the faint gurgle of the river below.
To say this place is magical might just about cover it. Sleeping up to fourteen, if you are searching for the perfect family or friend retreat then look no further… I just need to try out the other amazing Highland Hideouts now too…
(Honestly, if you spend a weekend here you could well be forgiven for staying put – I can confirm Tesco home delivery and our weekend provisions found us no problem – but if you want to venture out and about I have popped a couple of suggestions further down for you).
In collaboration with Highland Hideouts
EAT & DO
A picturesque five minute stroll by the side of a small loch will bring you directly into the centre of Boat of Garten. Perhaps best known for its train station with that ol’ steam train you can park yourself in The Boat Country Inn for a traditional pub meal (is there anything better than scampi in a basket I ask you?) and a view of the tracks.
You can stock up at the charming Post Office complete with an excellent selection of groceries, local produce and deli counter and if you fancy trying your hand at one of the many cycling routes in the area then Ride will sort you out with anything from the teeniest tiniest balance bike right up to an e-bike for those who prefer to take it a little easier. Of course in the winter you are perfectly placed for the skiing but summer is all about the outdoors too – the lovely chap in Ride gave us some insider tips (and a map) and sent us off on one of the most beautiful walks the following day too. Winding through the massive pine forest down the side of Loch Garten you will find yourself at the lesser known and stunning Loch Mallachie. Only an hour long walk maximum and well worth navigating the pram over the tree roots for…