What challenging times the world has experienced this year. We sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well. As you can appreciate, we closed the Apartment in March this year and are currently awaiting confirmation from the Scottish Government that we can reopen in July. We then need to use the guidance that they provide to ensure that we implement changes to ensure that our guests remain safe and healthy during their stay with us. We have decided that we will have at least 78 hours between guests to ensure that the risk of any virus contamination will be minimised.
Typically this Spring and early summer has been stunning. Little rain and lots of sunshine has resulted in the opportunity for us to take our daily exercise in the local area and to appreciate the little things that we might usually miss. Having a family of Willow Warblers in the garden has been a real treat, together with nesting Bullfinches, Robins, Blackbirds, Siskin and Goldfinch. We stuck to no mow May, and decided we liked the daisies so came up with an alternative mowing regime!
Stay safe and we will update on our opening as soon as we have news.
We have had a busy year in the Apartment, welcoming old friends and new guests too. It has been great to hear where guests have visited while staying with us over the past year, including climbing the crags on Cairngorm, tasting whisky at Tomatin Distillery, taking in the atmosphere at Culloden Battlefield, Paddleboarding on Loch Morlich, taking the train to Skye and visiting the Highland Wildlife Park. We thought you might like to see some of the places we have visited this year.
The photo below shows the gorgeous Gordon Castle Garden, one of the UK’s oldest and largest walled garden. It is being restored to its former glory and you can appreciated the sheer amount of hard work it has taken to achieve this. We particularly enjoyed seeing the old apple trees that were growing against the wall, one of the few remaining aspects of the original garden.
Balvenie is not only known for its great whisky but also for its castle. Situated in Dufftown a short drive away, it is an amazing structure which you can climb up inside to view the surrounding countryside.
Closer to home, this is Sluggan Bridge over the Dulnain River. You can walk from Squirrel Apartment through the forests to the bridge and return via a different route. The bridge was built around 1830, replacing a previous bridge that was destroyed in a spate flood.
Wishing you all a very happy festive season!
Winter has now gone, we had a little snow, but not enough to have regular skiing, which was disappointing. However, we did manage a lovely walk at Findorn Beach, walking on the snowy sand! We are lucky to have the beach, mountains, forest and city all within a short drive.
Although the winter could have been snowier, the Spring has been fantastic and we have had some beautiful blue sky sunny days. A good excuse to go walking in the Cairngorms to appreciate the beauty. Although this photo shows a short hillwalk, there any many low level easy walks in the area, and in Carrbridge we have many well marked footpaths through the woods and alongside the river.
We have taken the opportunity to add a few things to Squirrel Apartment. We have a new outside table and chairs, and following guest feedback we have added a DAB radio to the Kitchen and a Roku streaming device to allow guests to use catch-up tv and watch their Netflix or Amazon Prime accounts. Of course, the one thing we don't need to improve are the Squirrel sightings, Squirrel is present eating its nuts most mornings and many evenings!
After a very mild December, we hear that winter is on its way this week. Despite having no major snowfall, the ski centres at Cairngorm and the Lecht have been producing snow and have the beginners’ slopes open! Hopefully by the end of January we will have lots of the white stuff for snow sports!
We had a very busy Autumn in Carrbridge with the two big village events, Carve Carrbridge, the annual open chainsaw carving competition and the World Porridge Making Championships. The prize, the Golden Spurtle was won jointly by two Swedes this year! The Apartment is booked for the Porridge weekend this year but we still have availability if you want to come and watch the chainsaw competition on 31st August – it’s a great day out. Photo above of the 2018 winner by James Ross
On the nature front, our resident red squirrels have been busy, one guest reported that one squirrel has been sitting in the squirrel box munching his way through the food! Good numbers of brambling have also been visiting the garden. In the woods opposite, crested tit, crossbill and even a female capercaillie have been seen recently. If you are nature lovers, we can give you some local sites to visit and can even loan you a moth trap during your stay!
We have had a hot and dry summer this year which was very welcome after the long winter. It has been great seeing everyone smiling as the appreciate the good weather! We have taken the opportunity to hike in the Cairngorms and have had some great mountain days. It has been difficult for the foresters locally, who are concerned about the potential for forest fires. Luckily we had some rain last week but we are back to a warm dry forecast for this week.
Carrbridge is getting ready for two large events - the Chainsaw Carving Competiton on 1st September - a great day out for the whole family, and the World Porridge Making Championships on 6th October. This event attracts competitors from across the world who compete to win the Golden Spurtle. It is great to visit these competitions and fit in a visit to Landmark at the same time - they have lots of new attractions this year, including a prehistoric one!
Although we had some great skiing conditions over the winter, the season did seem to last a long time. We were pleased when Spring arrived, hearing bird song and seeing the snowdrops, daffodils and primroses appearing in the garden.
We have experienced a very dry Spring, with some beautifully blue sky days and the weather has warmed up considerably. We have even managed a BBQ or two!
The Apartment has been busy this year and we have had guests arriving on motorbikes, by train and by plane and/or car. They have all enjoyed the various walks that are on the doorstep, including the riverside walk into the village (where they have enjoyed coffee and cakes or a pub lunch - or both sometimes!) and the woodland walks through the stunning pine forests.
This winter has allowed us to enjoy the weather. We have had some gorgeous walks in the frosty sunshine and the cross country skiing has been fantastic. We are planning to hit the ski slopes next week- we have both Cairngorm and the Lecht nearby so are spoilt for choice.
On the wildlife front, the red squirrels and numerous birds are quickly emptying the garden bird-feeders. We have seen badgers, red and roe deer, pine martin, mountain and brown hare all in the area, but unfortunately no wildcats! We have offered the services of a wildlife guide to our guests previously and we can now arrange the use of a guide and hide to watch a Black Grouse lek, a really special experience.
Locally, the husky rally was a great success and we are looking forward to Groove Cairngorm, the music and snowsports event. There are so many different activities in the area - for example, you can take a horse-drawn carriage drive to explore the area, or visit the exotic animal rescue centre. For those who are feeling more adventurous, you can use the services of our recommended mountain guide, Dave Greer, to explore the Cairngorms. Afterwards, you could have a coffee in the Carrbridge Old Bakery, lunch in the Carrbridge Kitchen or dinner in the Cairn Hotel. Be warned, you will run out of time!
We have had a fantastic year in Carrbridge for events. Our historic bridge is 300 years old this year and there have been celebrations throughout the year, including the commissioning of a beautiful carved bench. The celebrations end next weekend with a local art exhibition and we are hoping to display a few photos! We have also had the infamous Duck Race, Carve Carrbridge - where chainsaw carvers create some amazing sculptures and the World Porridge Making Competition. This event attracts competitors from as far as Russia, US, Iceland and many places in between - this year, both prizes were won by Swedes!
There has been a real autumn chill in the air, but today we have very warm temperatures with a high of 19 degrees forecasted. However, the trees are turning and the birds have made short work of the berries so it is likely that winter is just around the corner. Here's hoping for plenty of snow! We close the Apartment at the end of the month for some redecoration so it is like new for Christmas guests.
We have had a busy summer and have met so many lovely guests. Thanks to their reviews, we have been awarded the TripAdvisor certificate of excellence! We are delighted to have won this in our first year.
So much is going on in the Strath over the next couple of months, we have the Harley rally Thunder in the Glens on 25-28th August, Grantown Highland Games on 27th August, followed by Carve Carrbridge on 2nd September, Motor Mania in Grantown on the 3rd and of course the World Porridge Making Championship in Carrbridge on 7th October.
Nature-wise, we have had some good finds in the area, including a large patch of Coralroot Orchid, Bog Orchid, a massive new colony of Serrated Wintergreen and a new site for Small Blue Butterfly. And of course the Red Squirrels are daily visitors to the Apartment - a recent guest experienced a stand-off between a squirrel and a Great-Spotted Woodpecker!
We are now taking bookings for 2018 and are looking forward to seeing returning guests and welcoming new ones!
(c) Russ Telfer
This beautiful image was taken recently by a fantastic photographer, Russ Telfer, during his stay in the Apartment. Russ was taken aback at being able to see regular sightings of squirrels just a few feet away!
One of the best things about Strathspey is the amount of activities and events that happen over the summer. From Highland Games to the Harley Davidson rally - Thunder in the Glens, the events are fun and diverse. Every weekend there is something happening! Through the week there are lots of things to do too, we recently had a castle fest - visiting Ballindalloch, Cawdor and Dunrobin - all very different but equally stunning. Next on our list are a visit to the nearby Exotic Animal Rescue Centre and a ride on the Carrbridge horse drawn carriage.
We are so lucky to live and work in such a beautiful area. The nature sightings in Carrbridge this summer have been very special, ranging from new sites for Serrated Wintergreen, Coralroot orchid and Small Blue butterfly.
We are now thinking about Christmas and New Year - as it's our first season we have availability for both weeks. Come and experience our Highland hospitality!
But plenty more sunshine expected first - enjoy and relax
Ps. Hope you like the title - that's my soul music influence!
What's on, what's been seen and other news