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Travel: Cairngorm Lodges are the perfect staycation for nature lovers

The Cairngorm Lodges are just an hour away from Aberdeen by car. (Picture supplied by Advantage PR)

Set in the heart of woodland, surrounded by nature and stunning silence, are the Cairngorm Lodges.

The eco-friendly lodges are secluded, yet just a short drive from the likes of Aboyne, Ballater and Braemar.

You might say the lodges have the makings of the perfect Scottish staycation – a tranquil setting with plenty of locations and attractions to be explored nearby.

That’s certainly the impression my partner and I took away from our short stay there.

As we pulled up to the Pine Marten – one of five lodges situated at Logie Coldstone, near Aboyne – I was met with silence… blissful, beautiful sounds of nothing.

With my five-year-old chatterbox of a son, that silence didn’t last for long mind you…

Samantha and her family stayed at the Cairngorm Lodges, near Aboyne.

Magic of nature

The Cairngorm Lodges are just a short 15-minute or so drive from Aboyne, and much to my delight, they were pretty easy to find.

Set back from the road, the accommodation is tucked away within the Blelack Woodlands Estate, shielded from the noise of any passing cars.

Our lodge was the fourth along and offered plenty space for parking right outside.

Once parked up, my son was immediately drawn to the makeshift teepee which had been erected next to the lodge entrance.

To a little boy with a big imagination I can only wonder how magical this sight must have been to him.

Samantha’s son Jacob explores the makeshift teepee structure.

Even our Labrador, Lottie, seemed taken by the teepee structure… or maybe she was just interested in the big sticks?

And that’s another big tick in the box for the Cairngorm Lodges – dogs can stay there too!

The Pine Marten Lodge.

Also outside the lodge was a bench and barbecue. Although we weren’t blessed with glorious sunshine on our visit, I could see that on a hotter day the location would be ideal for a spot of barbecuing.

Clean and comfortable

The lounge space inside the Pine Marten lodge. (Picture supplied by Advantage PR)

Inside, the lodge was clean, sufficient and offered everything you’d need for a comfortable staycation.

The fully fitted kitchen was open-plan to the living space, which had a dining table adjacent to two leather sofas, a TV with DVD player (for those cosy nights), and a wood-burning stove.

Bedroom one had a comfy double bed, while bedroom two offered two single beds. Plenty space to sleep four.

And there was, of course, also a bathroom complete with a shower – although no bath, which might be an issue for anyone planning on staying with small babies.

The Pine Marten lodge offers a fully fitted kitchen. (Picture supplied by Advantage PR)

Overall, the spacious self-catering lodge was great, but I did feel like it erred on the side of basic. A few more homely touches wouldn’t go a miss to make it feel just that little bit more welcoming.

Winding woodlands

There were plenty of muddy puddles for Samantha’s son, Jacob, to enjoy.

Getting back to nature, the surrounding landscape offered lots of little winding woodland routes to explore and walk our dog.

We thoroughly enjoyed being able to wake up, grab a bite, and then head straight out for an early morning woodland family walk. There was even a loch just down from the lodges, too.

The picturesque loch near the Cairngorm Lodges.
Samantha Leckie with her partner Allan, son Jacob and family pet, Lottie.

Pub grub

While on our family staycation, we also took the time to explore the areas nearby. Our first night took us to Aboyne, where we enjoyed some lovely pub grub at The Boat Inn.

Complete with a cosy, feel-good factor, The Boat Inn was very welcoming and the perfect place to enjoy a drink and decent bite to eat.

If you’re ever in the area and feel those hunger pangs, I highly recommend popping by for a visit.

The interior of The Boat Inn.
Samantha and her family enjoyed some lovely pub grub when they visited The Boat Inn in Aboyne.

Something special

A short car journey from the lodges sits the stunning spot of Braemar. Picturesque is the perfect word to describe the village.

Surrounded by beautiful scenery, Braemar has so much to offer when it comes to character. There’s just something special about the place.

Prior to our trip I had taken some time to seek out dog-friendly places to grab a bite to eat – and there were plenty.

After wandering around the village, having a nosy in the charming shops, we stopped off at The Bothy – one of my pup-friendly finds.

With indoor and outdoor seating, there was the option to sit inside or enjoy the spectacular hilly views outside, alongside a delicious lunch. We did the latter.

The Bothy in Braemar offers a generous menu, served with stunning views.

Craigievar Castle

Not only are the Cairngorm Lodges near the likes of Braemar and all of its attractions, but it also isn’t too far from a number of incredible Scottish castles, including Balmoral, Braemar, Crathes and the ever-popular Craigievar Castle.

Despite being just six miles south of Alford, we’d never before had the chance to visit Craigievar Castle, and so we decided there was no better time than when staying at the lodge.

A 20-minute drive away, it took us no time at all to get to the pretty-in-pink castle, and wow… it was worth the trip.

Craigievar Castle is a sight to behold.

The magical castle is said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle, and it’s easy to see why with its enchanting looks and surrounding grounds.

While my partner decided to take our dog for a walk around the gardens and explore the woodland trail, I took my son Jacob inside the castle for a tour.

The tight, spiral staircases aren’t for the claustrophobic, but the castle offers so much in terms of a fascinating history and artefacts.

Although I suggest parents with small children request not to hear the castle’s ghost stories, or you may have to make a sharp exit like I did with a truly spooked Jacob – bless him.

Samantha and her son Jacob at Craigievar Castle.

Flawless service

Keen for the break not to end, on our way home from the Cairngorm Lodges we swung by the Banchory Lodge for yet another bite to eat – did I say we’re a real food-orientated bunch?

The Banchory Lodge. (Picture by Paul Glendell)

The lodge was bustling despite torrential rain, and happy customers flowed in and out of the venue.

We were seated in the quirky bar area and enjoyed a fantastic brunch, accompanied by a flawless service.

The bar area of The Banchory Lodge. (Picture by Paul Glendell)

Another dog-friendly location, there were even doggy biscuits for Lottie to gobble down as she lurked under the table hoping for food to fall.

A haven for nature lovers

The Cairngorm Lodges are a haven for nature lovers with woodland walks right on the doorsteps of each lodge.

Around an hour drive from the city, the lodges aren’t too far away from Aberdeen and are fairly easy to find with a good sat nav.

Family and dog-friendly, the lodges themselves make for a comfortable stay – but I would love to see some more of those homely, cosy decorative touches.

There’s an abundance of activities nearby for those who want to explore the surrounding areas further, with distilleries, castles and walking routes.

And if you’re into your food and drink then there’s no shortage of fantastic restaurants and cafes to grab some grub, just a short drive away.

But if you just want to lay low and have a quiet few days away from the hustle and bustle, then the Cairngorm Lodges offer that tranquil time too.

Cairngorm Lodges, Logie Coldstone, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire AB34 5PQ
Telephone: 01339 289103
Prices: Four nights midweek from £379 or three nights weekend from £399