In terms of travel, busy airports and city breaks suddenly aren’t the hot tickets they once were – so escaping to a safe, remote location, a staycation in potential isolation, seems like a sensible and relaxing choice.

One such is Glen Dye Estate, in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire – an off-grid rural escape that has graced the pages of publications from Tatler to the Telegraph. This invigorating retreat on a 30,000-acre estate offers guests the opportunity to ‘rewild’ themselves, combining a mix of quirky yet luxurious accommodation options, private outdoor hot tubs and wild swimming. It’s up to each guest exactly how ‘wild’ they wish to be.

The Scottish Farmer:

To be fair, when farmers and landowners first started diversifying into camping, glamping, cottages and cabins, it was quite a novelty for the public, granting them access onto tucked away estates and farms in a way they hadn’t experienced before. Nowadays, there are a lot of quality country experiences and short breaks on the table, so standing out from the crowd is half the battle. Glen Dye certainly stands out.

At Glen Dye, they mix up polished accommodation with engaging and escapist outdoor facilities and adventures. Their statement or signature piece has to be the silver, restored 1955 Airstream Caravan – it’s imaginative, playful yet smart.

Set by the river, dominated by a gigantic bed, the caravan is a romantic bolthole; visitors barely need to see another soul for the duration of their stay. Guests will discover that their kitchen, dining and sitting room are situated in a nearby 1800s wooden building, which once was a refuge and seed store for the estate foresters.

The caravan’s heated rainfall shower is outdoors and set in the abandoned sawmill, or visitors can opt to fire up a wood-fired Swedish hot tub. Everything is cosy and beautifully finished, yet encourages guests to spend time outdoors and appreciate the land around them.

The Scottish Farmer:

Steading cottages are available, part of the conversion of a set of derelict Victorian farm buildings. In our case, we checked into the stylish yet family-friendly North Lodge, a contemporary three-bedroom Scottish haven.

The living room featured plush velvet sofas, a fully-furnished kitchen with a complimentary hamper bulging with local produce and our bathroom stocked ‘Faith in Nature’ toiletries gracing an indulgent rolltop bath. But somehow, like most guests, we ended up outside in the Scottish countryside, because the lodge comes with its own unique riverside cabin.

The Scottish Farmer:

The cabin was a short walk from the lodge down to the River Dye. Inside was a wood-burning stove, armchair and picnic-style dining table, as well as motivating posters and novels to inspire outdoor exploration and intrepid activities.

Just outside our cabin proudly stood our Big Green Egg barbecue, a wood-fired hot tub and fire-pit. This is the kind of location where you could pass a whole spring day, or a chilled evening as the fairy lights twinkle in the trees. It’s about spending quality time with your immediate family and friends, and enjoying sustained periods outdoors for relaxation rather than work.

Admittedly, embracing the Glen Dye vibe can take some effort. For example, guests don’t simply pull back the lid of the hot tub and jump in. They need to fill the tub, light the fire, and tend the flames to heat the water for their dip. It’s also about keeping the fire-pit going and nurturing the coals for a barbecue to feed the family.

An escape to Glen Dye isn’t solely about reconnecting with nature, but also tapping into basic primeval tasks and skills that most of us tend to ignore in our daily lives (reassuringly, the option to use the modern kitchen and facilities back at the lodge is always there, if your ‘wilder’ ideas don’t quite go according to plan.)

The motto of Glen Dye is ‘Home of the Brave’, which can be discovered on posters, enamel mugs and flags across the estate. For us, travelling with young children aged four and six, undergoing a relatively easy hike up Scolty Hill, near the Deeside town of Banchory, was brave indeed for little legs. And ascending the 20m tall tower on the summit to take in sweeping views of the Grampian countryside.

The Scottish Farmer:

Closer to home, Glen Dye is watched over by the granite tor of Clachnaben hillside, a popular walking location at the northern end of the Cairn o' Mount mountain pass. Wild swimming in the river is also encouraged for those hardy enough.

The benefits to health of spending time in nature has been proven over the years. From the Japanese ‘Shinrin-Yoku’, or forest bathing, and mindfulness, to simply leaving the smart phone behind at the lodge, breathing in fresh air and living in the moment. Putting bravery aside, Glen Dye’s motto could equally be ‘Home of the Calm’.

The Scottish Farmer:

It’s clear that the unique offering at Glen Dye has personality, it’s not a corporate clone but an idiosyncratic brainchild of passionate individuals, Charles and Caroline Gladstone. Charles is a direct descendant of Prime Minister, William Gladstone.

The couple own and manage the Hawarden Estate, in Wales, splitting their time between Scotland and Wales. In Wales, they run the estate farm shop as well as The Glynne Arms, a pub and restaurant in the centre of Hawarden. Charles also wrote the 'Pedlars' Guide to the Great Outdoors', where readers learn how to swing an axe and tickle a trout.

The couple is especially well known for organising the ‘Good Life Experience’ in Wales, with musicians Cerys Matthews and Steve Abbott. The chilled festival combines a mix of music, talks, foraging, campfire chefs, craft experiences, and a celebrated dog show.

This combination of fun, wellness and outdoor living has been adapted and reimagined in the wilds of Scotland at Glen Dye, where the festival vibe has not been forgotten.

A series of micro festivals had been planned across 2020 –which fell victim to Covid-19 restrictions – nothing on the scale of the Good Life, but far more personal and intimate. These were encourage participants to get creative, crafty and hands on, and reconnect with themselves and the land – hopefully something that will be re-connected to the estate's itinerary when restrictions are less onerous.

As 2020 travel plans ebb, change and flow, those who looking to escape to the countryside and get away from it all should consider Glen Dye, an immersive option for the wild and the brave.