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Travel: A family retreat you’ll all love at Glen Dye in Kincardineshire

Glen Dye interiors.
Glen Dye interiors.

This is the best holiday ever!” yells my four-year-old as he happily splashes in the bath with his little brother; both laughing as they drum their hands energetically on the warm, dark, rippling water.

For once, I’m not concerned about any overspill. Bath time is always a cause for fun but having their own wood-fired outdoor bathtub enclosed by towering trees in the north-east of Scotland takes this pre-bed ritual to another level.

It’s one of the many memorable and unique features of a stay at Glen Dye, a collection of cottages and cabins nestled in the wild grounds of the Glen Dye estate, which comprises 1,500 acres of forest and woodland 12 miles south of Banchory.

I’m spending two nights with my partner, Sean, and sons Ben and Luke in No. 4 Steading cottage. It’s one of around twenty properties across the estate that have been converted from derelict farm and estate buildings into deluxe holiday lets, including cottages sleeping up to seven, a small cabin in the woods on the banks of the River Dye, a converted Airsteam caravan and The Coach House, a recently renovated B&B that has five bedrooms and can be booked individually or as an entire house sleeping 12.

We pull up beside No. 4 Steading cottage. In contrast to its Victorian exterior, inside the decor is bright and contemporary, with quirky touches. It boasts four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a large open-plan kitchen/dining area that leads on to a small, cosy living room complete with a wood-burning stove.

Luke and brother Ben take a dip in the hot tub

We also have private courtyard where we find a large stockpile of firewood and a luxury Green Egg BBQ, which we manage to cook delicious burgers on the next night. The amenities are all high-end, including a record player with Bluetooth speakers and a state-of-the-art coffee machine. Small packets of complimentary tea bags, coffee beans, rock salt and dog biscuits – the cottages are all dog-friendly – is a lovely touch.

Not far from our accommodation, we find the Glen Dye Vegetable Garden, where guests can pick their own fresh fruit and vegetables or order from the estate’s small shop, which also sells non-alcoholic drinks, meats, eggs, storecupboard staples and pre-cooked meals.

The boys enjoy exploring the garden and meeting the estate’s flock of chickens. Near the garden is a small wood-fired sauna that has to be booked in advance. If you’re looking to relax and recharge, Glen Dye really does spoil you for choice.

After meeting the chickens and spotting a pheasant, we entertain the kids with a walk in the woods and along the nearby River Dye.

Despite its remote location, there’s plenty to do in and around Glen Dye. The surrounding woods and moorland are ideal for longer walks, guests can fish in the river, and the picturesque village of Banchory is a short drive away. Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle lie 20 miles east and 15 miles west you’ll reach Cairngorms National Park.

On our walk back, we come across The Glen Dye Arms, a small former farm building converted into a rustic BYOB pub with a built-in bar where guests can relax beside a roaring log fire.

Surprisingly, the absence of a TV hasn’t phased my boys at all. They’re happy enough racing around the house and playing with toys when we’re not outdoors. For rainy days, guests have a stock of board games, jigsaws, books and records.

Later, once the kids are in bed, I brave the cold January night air to take a dip in the Swedish wood-fired bathtub, in our own private section of woodland a short walk from our house. It took four hours to heat but was worth the effort.

Sinking into the warm water and looking up at the star-filled sky, with the wind rusting the trees, the gentle roar of the nearby river and the crackle pop of the log fire, is a calming, if initially surreal, experience.

The next day, I leave Glen Dye rested and relaxed. We pass a large sign that reads “Keep Glen Dye a secret”. for For any guests ready to book a return visit to this popular staycation site that combines nature and luxury, that’s sound advice.


Glen Dye’s three-hour wild wellness and bushcraft classes, where guests can take part in mindfulness walks, foraging, bushcraft skills and wood whittling, cost £55pp pre-booked online.


Prices for a single night at The Coach House start from £155, family room from £225. Three nights at Steading No. 4 costs £1,395. Visit