Well if those woods happen to be in Nethy Bridge near Aviemore you are sure to get a big surprise as you would come across the well-hidden Woodman’s Hut at the Lazy Duck.
We last stayed there 2 1/2 years ago just a month or two before we found out I was pregnant.
Even though it was a while ago and pre child, I wanted to publish a review of the Lazy Duck I wrote at the time. It is a truly wonderful place for a weekend away.
The Lazy Duck is a small holding with Soay sheep, ducks and geese located just outside of Nethy Bridge in the Cairngorm National Park. We have stayed several times, in the small 8 person hostel and in their tiny 4 tent campsite. Both were fantastic stays but the one that really sticks with us was a 3 day night break in the Woodman’s Hut.
I had read a review a year or so before our stay about this wooden hut in the woods, with views over the Cairngorm Mountains from the veranda and no electricity or running water. So once we had talked about the possibility of starting a family in the near future we decided we needed a short break away for two as it could be the last time, for a long time.
We arrived late afternoon on a dark, chilly December day. We had called ahead to let them know our ETA so we were met by manager JC who pointed us in the right direction, up the little path, through the woods to the Woodman’s Hut. It was toasty warm inside as they had lit the wood burning stove ready for us and I fell in love with the place on first sight.
A small kitchen was tucked down one side with a camping gas fueled hob. There was a sink with running water, not from the mains supply but from a whisky barrel on the outside collecting rainwater. The rest of the open space in the hut included the small cheery, wood burning stove with a tin kettle on top and two comfy reading chairs nearby and a table and chairs to dine at.
The highlight of the interior for me was the box bed. Just big enough for two with a window at the foot of the bed overlooking the Cairngorm Mountains and another star gazing window in the roof. We laid on the bed alternately looking at the snowcapped mountains glistening in the moonlight one way and the Milky Way and shooting stars above our heads, so bright and clear away from street lights.
We hadn’t had chance to get any food in to self-cater so we headed into Aviemore to a favourite pub of ours, the Ben MacDui, where we know they do a good Sunday Lunch until late. After dinner we headed to the Old Bridge Inn, another old favourite, and watched a fantastic band play Scot Rock. (I may have just made that up) It was all fiddles, bagpipes, drums and electric guitars.
Back at the hut I had my first experience of outdoor toileting. Located a couple hundred meters from the hut is an outdoor composting loo. Chilly was one way to describe it and I have to say I got the fear when sitting above a gaping chasm into blackness. What could be lurking down there…?
The following morning as we opened our eyes, we really got to appreciate the view from the window at the foot of the bed. Mist swirled over the moors in front of us and above it rose the mountains, pink topped in the sunrise.
We took breakfast on the veranda, taking in the view and listening to the damp drip off the trees, the odd quack from a duck and occasional whoosh of a bird wings overhead. They were the only sounds.
I put off having a shower until the sun had completely risen, raising the air temperature above freezing to a not much warmer 3 degrees. This is because the shower was a bush shower. An outside bush shower. To use it you boil a kettle on the stove, fill the bush shower bag, and top up with cold water from the whisky barrel rainwater to make it a manageable temperature then strip off and in the wooden ‘shower unit’ adjacent to the hut.
To stand looking over the mountains, hearing the odd tweet of a bird and surprisingly not too cold was quite a liberating experience, I did however shower in a bikini, I just couldn’t do the full monty. The warm shower was followed by a quick dash, wrapped in a bathrobe, back to the hut to cuddle up in front of the stove.
We had another 2 wonderful nights at the Woodman’s Hut, where we spent the long Scottish winter evenings sat next to the stove, with a bottle of wine and read, played Pass the Pigs and talked. Really talked. There was no TV, no phone signal and no Wi-Fi to distract us.
During the day we hiked, ate cake and visited the Cairngorm Reindeer, which deserves a blog post on its own and will follow in the not too distant future.
Unfortunately the huts aren’t toddler friendly although they can stay in the hostel and at the campsite if you can all squeeze into a small 2-3 man tent (that’s the largest you are allowed on the tiny site) We will definitely return one day for another wonderful hideaway weekend for two and in the meantime we hope to stay in the hostel or campsite with Monkey just so we can go back.
If you can get away from the kids and make the trip to Aviemore, I couldn’t recommend anywhere better to really recharge your batteries.
Visit www.lazyduck.co.uk to find out more about their huts for two, campsite and hostel