Scotland is famous for its magnificent scenery and wildlife, and Eagle Brae is the perfect place to experience both first hand. Located just north of Loch Ness, these luxury log cabins are an ideal retreat from which to explore the Scottish Highlands.
Handily situated 20 miles from Inverness airport, it’s a beautiful drive through the countryside to Eagle Brae. You could also take one of the frequent trains to Inverness including the Caledonian Sleeper service. Arriving at the property, we noticed the intricate carved wooden sign standing proud outside.
Driving the short distance up to reception, we were excited to spot a stag grazing nearby. Sightings of wildlife are so frequent that there’s a book at reception where guests note what they have spotted. We were warmly welcomed by the owners, Mike and Pawana, and their gentle Bernese mountain dog, Kyla.
Eagle Brae is the result of their vision to bring a unique concept to the Highlands, with hand-built log cabins and a very personal service. Their attention to detail has really paid off, with seven stunning cedar log cabins that take self catering to a completely new level of luxury.
Created from the finest Western Red Cedar logs, each cabin has been hand-built by Pioneer Log Homes of BC, using authentic Norwegian techniques. The wood is specially sourced from sustainably managed forests in British Columbia, Canada. It has a beautiful grain, and apparently provides outstanding thermal performance and natural insect deterrent qualities. There are two cabin designs and some are set up slightly differently, with all being individually named. All of them have an open plan design with a superb cathedral ceiling, combined living room, kitchen and dining area plus an upper floor mezzanine.
The smaller cabins have a double bedroom and a bathroom downstairs and the open mezzanine room upstairs is set up as a second sitting room. Come with me on a tour of our cabin…
We were staying in Buteo, one of the larger cabins with an additional en-suite bedroom upstairs and an open plan mezzanine area. Prior to our stay, we were asked whether we preferred the bedrooms set up as twin beds or a double – it’s entirely up to you.
The cabins blend into the landscape thanks to the use of wood and the grass growing on the roof! They’re very well spaced out so you have complete privacy. Inside, they have a really cosy feel thanks to a log burning stove. Not only that, there’s adjustable underfloor heating so it feels really warm.
Pawana is originally from the Himalayas in India and her brother in law is a master wood carver. His team have created the signs and wood carvings that decorate the cabins. They epitomize the intriguing blend of Scottish and Himalayan culture, so unique to Eagle Brae.
Whilst having a rustic appearance, each cabin has a complete range of modern appliances, including a washing machine and vacuum cleaner. There’s also high speed broadband throughout and an office space with its own computer and printer, handy for printing out boarding passes. Another particularity about Eagle Brae is the dedication to sustainability. It’s one of a handful of tourism destinations in the world to offer completely carbon neutral holiday accommodation. Completely self-sufficient for all its utility and energy needs, there’s a micro-hydro scheme providing electricity and hot water, wood-pellet burners for under floor heating, and water from a natural underground source. Guests can help by recycling all rubbish where possible.
Buteo means Buzzard in Latin, and it is the only large cabin looking straight down Strathglass glen. This wide valley holds a huge variety of wildlife including otters, kingfishers, deer, badgers, hares, black grouse and golden eagles.
We had an interesting visitor on our very first morning! This cabin really is great for wildlife spotting. It’s far away from any steep slopes so would be perfect for elderly guests or those with impaired mobility.
It’s also the closest cabin to the goats paddock, so a good choice for families with young children, who’ll love playing with the friendly goats. One of their roles is as “eco-strimmers” – i.e. they trim the grass roofs!
We admired the hand-carved mezzanine balcony depicting the Lewis chessmen.
The kitchen is fully equipped, with a dishwasher, microwave, and every utensil that you could possibly need. It’s possible to order around 150 grocery items, quality meats and wines through the Eagle Brae intranet.
You can also order a range of 10 tasty home-cooked meals, if you’d like a night off from cooking. We tried the wild venison stew, accompanied by green beans and sweet potatoes. It was really delicious, and had been sourced locally. Fresh fish is also delivered once a week, and Eagle Brae keeps its own traditional Hebridean four horned sheep and rare-breed Berkshire pigs.
We enjoyed breakfast on the deck outside, taking our tea from the funky Scottish mugs – this one features the famous poet Robbie Burns.
Continuing our tour of the cabin, upstairs there’s a great view over the living area. I really liked the selection of books and magazines – so often in holiday accommodation these are old books that people have left behind but here they’ve deliberately chosen books that you’d actually want to read like the latest Bill Bryson.
The 8,000 acre Struy Estate, where Eagle Brae is located has been owned by Mike’s family since the 1930s. It’s a peaceful environment in which to relax or to enjoy all the activities on offer nearby. Next to Reception, there’s a lake which attracts many birds and a decked outdoor seating area.
Inside Reception, guests can help themselves to complimentary tea, coffee and hot chocolate, make a note of the animals that they have spotted or purchase a Himalayan Nehru jacket. These are entirely hand-made: hand sheared, hand spun, hand woven and hand tailored.
The cabins are so homely that you may never want to leave, yet if you tear yourself out there’s lots to do in the area. I’ll be writing separately about some of the local attractions including Plodda Falls, Glen Strathfarrar’s forest and grassland and nearby Loch Ness. There are several munros, or Scottish mountains over 3,000ft high within close reach. Wildlife and bird spotting is easy from the comfort of your log cabin and Eagle Brae can arrange a variety of other activities. These include salmon and trout fishing, canoeing and kayaking, archery, golf, pony trekking and camera stalking. Similar to stalking with a rifle, pictures are shot, not animals!
We were fortunate to try out dog sled riding, and I’ll be writing in detail about this once in a lifetime experience led by Olympic contenders, Leask Racing Sleddogs. In fact Eagle Brae has just hosted an International Federation of Sleddog Sports World Cup Race.
For a truly unique and personal experience in the Scottish Highlands, there’s nowhere better than Eagle Brae. Guests return time after time, and I can certainly see why. Try it and you’ll fall for its many charms!
Book your Eagle Brae experience, Struy, Beauly, Inverness-shire IV4 7LE, Scotland
We stayed as guests of Eagle Brae for the purposes of this review