Posted in Life

Forest Holidays in Strathyre, Scotland

Forest Holidays in Strathyre, Scotland Posted on 27/12/201713 Comments
Ahoy, hello! My name is Jenny. I am a thirty-something human female from Manchester in the north of England. I enjoy rainy days and sad songs, custard donuts and salt & pepper chips and beer, lentil dhal and fried okra, X-Files and Twin Peaks, fierce fat heroines and mental health advocates, dogs and cats and otters and a very special beirdo. To paraphrase Sylvia Plath: "I blog because there is a voice within me that insists on writing lots of ridiculous chuff".

To those of you who seek solitude, extreme relaxation, chilly-shouldered night-time hot tubbing followed by curling up by a roaring log fire, or even the dubiously punishing enjoyment of mountain hikes and exceedingly long bike rides, boy have I got a splendid idea for you.

I have been coveting the very notion of such an escape since I first discovered Forest Holidays around 10 years ago. At that time I would order the paper catalogue and sneak away for a hot bath or (let’s be honest) extended loo break clutching my pamphlet o’ dreams. I have always been tremendously fond of a pine forest; of the canopy of quietude, the soft carpet of needles beneath the feet, and the glorious isolation of any remote, enclosed location. When I was a ween we frequently camped in the Peak District and so from nigh-on a toddling age I have been in love with nature.

A beautiful autumnal scene of Loch Lubnaig and a long path beside the loch.

However, I am also madly, wildly devoted to hot bubble baths and warm fluffy towels, to indoor plumbing and mod cons. My friends, this is where Forest Holidays’ most luxurious eco-cabins come into the picture.

A view of our big eco-cabin at dusk, showing lights on inside and a hot tub on the deck.

As many of you will know, my Mum passed away on 3 September of this year, after a long-but-short illness. Through naïveté or perhaps through wilful ignorance, I didn’t expect to lose her nearly so soon. She was 64, and had many lifetimes of living left to do. I may be 36, but no doubt, I still need my Mum.

Another lovely autumnal view of Loch Lubnaig with a bare tree hanging over the water.

One of my Mum’s many valuable lessons was an appreciation of rest, relaxation, and of recharging the batteries so we may fight another day. I therefore felt it was very fitting to take some of the money she had left me and book N and I into a top notch fancypants ‘golden oak‘ cabin at the edge of Loch Lubnaig, nestled in a valley of the Trossachs National Park, Scotland, for that traditionally hectic week just afore Christmas proper.

Forest Holidays seem like a pretty good deal as far as such companies go; they support UK forests (via the Forestry Commission), local communities, and UK tourism. The Scotland site we stayed at, Strathyre, was actually the first location for cabins built in collaboration with the FC in 1973 (don’t worry folks they have sure been tarted up since then). It isn’t explicit within their corporate responsibility blurb, but they also use a lot of eco-friendly (and mostly vegan friendly) toiletries and kitchen basics. They have multiple UK locations, some being perfectly accessible without a car.

Because I hate most people and have a soft, ridiculously molten heart hidden ‘neath a fragile but convincingly hard, black exterior, I paid extra for the corner-most cabin, on the edge of the forest footpath (and national cycle route 7 for N) so that I would be relatively untroubled by other humans, having their fun and such.

Looking out of the huge two-floor window of our cabin with the loch and trees outside.

If I may, dearest bloggo readers, I will let a few photos speak for themselves herein. We enjoyed (sort of) a very icy ascent halfway up the nearest big hill, a heck of a lot of night-time relaxing in the deck’s hot tub, a couple of long bike rides (in N’s case, if we ask him nicely he might blog about it, there were some awfully nice photos and a pony or two), and even some crafting in the site shop/cafe/HQ. (Hold the phone, he went and blogged it up.)

A small cardboard box on top of a microwave; the box says "With our compliments... Your eco-friendly kitchen essentials."

An open scrabble board on the coffee table. Some letters are on a rack and they spell "WELCOME".

A misty mountain path surrounded by tall pine trees.

N treading carefully on an icy mountain path, surrounded by pine trees.

Another ruddy misty mountain path surrounded by tall pine trees.

A picture showing the VERY icy mountain path.

A beautiful dusk photo of Loch Lubnaig with a bare tree silhouetted over the loch.

A close-up of two complimentary bottles of body wash and shampoo.

A close-up of the toiletries showing they are vegan friendly.

A blue-tit picking up a piece of bread from the picnic table on our deck.

The blue tit sitting on a branch with its bread looking puffed up and proud.

A red-breasted robin sitting on the picnic table.

A bird (maybe a starling) sitting on the picnic table.

There were really only a couple of minor niggles with the whole enjoyable experience; wi-fi is not included in the price of the cabin, and I paid extra for this (it did go down at one point; not for long but without my internet-umbilical I start to panic pretty sharpish) which seems a little unusual in, dare I say it, this DAY AND AGE.

Also, with a full kitchen of appliances and cuisine-accoutrements, there were zero basic condiments (salt, pepper, stock cubes, cooking oil) but some very overpriced basics in the shop (£3 each for salt and pepper, £6 for olive oil). The ready-made meals were pushed heavily, but of course being a big ol’ vegan they were of little use to me. I had pre-ordered an on-site fruit & veg box, which was lovely but didn’t arrive until the evening of our second day and so we were forced to purchase the single most expensive can of Heinz baked beans I have ever encountered. I felt it was a wee bit disingenuous to push the self-catering element when the ready-made pizza/burger/curry packs were being peddled so relentlessly. However, we did buy some fresh bread and on one occasion a lunch, and my chips were really top notch. N, being pescatarian, even had very few choices on the menu so there was really nothing substantial for me. This was expected (being in rural Scotland) but a MacSween’s veggie haggis would be a splendid menu item for the veggies/vegans if you ask me (hint hint, Forest Holidays).

There are a number of additional activities and luxury ‘extras’ that can be booked in advance of your stay. The sites are very child/dog friendly (though we left Vulpe with her Dad for the week, being utterly bonkers as she is) with lots of stuff to do.

Overall, my blog chums, we really did have the most wonderful break; it was much appreciated at a time when the Christmas-hysteria was really ramping up, and as the chlorinated waters bubbled around our travel-weary bodies on that first night, we vowed to take a yearly hot-tub holiday from then on.

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  1. Ooh, this all looks so wonderful. I hope you’re feeling relaxed and optimistic as we inch into a fresh New Year.

    1. Thank you Rebekah 🙂 I’m planning to sit quietly in a corner and hope 2018 pays me no attention whatsoever this year, if that counts as optimism!

  2. I’ve been contemplating something along these lines for a while – something far from humanity, bit of nature, and a big bath thrown in. Seems like the whole rip off basics/paid-for wi-fi was really unnecessary though. Sigh.

    1. It was definitely unnecessary but if you have a car and can load up with provisions it’s totally doable without all the cheeky extras (aside from the wi-fi I guess, but it wasn’t extortionate). I would still highly recommend the whole experience, especially as they have sites throughout the UK 🙂

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