Scotland: Six days Rewilding Retreat in the Cairngorms

Taking in amazing primeval forests, dramatic glens and sparkling highland lochs in search of the spectacular wildlife that lives there, such as ospreys, eagles, red squirrels, pine martens, beavers and otters.



The Cairngorms is the perfect location to explore a variety of habitats - from upland to wetland and croftland to coast. After many years of decline, the last remnants of the Caledonian Forest are beginning to recover. The gnarled granny pines, some centuries-old, are now surrounded by new life as saplings begin to erupt from the undergrowth and spread. 

The autumn months see shifting priorities in the wildlife we search for. Salmon leap up waterfalls to reach their spawning grounds, red deer are roaring throughout the glens, red squirrels hurry across the woodland floor and crested tits are calling from the tops of pine trees.

Our adventure will be enhanced by fascinating discussions, picnic lunches in the field and of course, the odd coffee stop.


Home to some of Scotland's most spectacular landscapes.


Day 1: After arrival and introductions we enjoy our first meal together before an after-dinner presentation setting the scene for our adventure.

Day 2-6: We begin our retreat by exploring our surroundings with a walk through our 120-acre rewilding reserve and spend time searching for crested tits in the surrounding pine woods.

We look for golden eagles, red deer and mountain hares in a remote Highland and discover the regenerating landscape of the acclaimed Glenfeshie estate. 

We explore the rich Caledonian Forest of Glen Affric with its mesmerising views across sparkling lochs and watch red squirrels scampering and pine martens foraging from a local hide. One of the season’s most impressive sights can be salmon leaping up challenging waterfalls as they migrate to their natal rivers to spawn.

We’ll visit the various landscapes of Cairngorms Connect, the UK’s largest landscape-scale restoration project and throughout the retreat, we’ve arranged to meet with several rewilding experts working on exciting projects. They will provide a fascinating perspective on their work, stimulating new thinking about the future for Scotland’s wildlife and wild places.

This retreat will be an immersive experience set against stunning autumnal landscapes and amazing wildlife, interspersed with thought-provoking discussions across a broad spectrum of rewilding topics.

Day 7: We say our farewells after breakfast on Friday.


  • Days: 7 days/6 nights
  • When: Set dates: 7-10 May 2021 and 22-25 Oct 2021
  • Accommodation: Ballintean Mountain Lodge 
  • Guide: James Shooter
  • How to get there: You can train, ferry or fly into Scotland via Inverness, Edinburgh or Glasgow. From there you will need to take a train, bus or (rental) car and get to Kingussie.
  • Languages: English


€1480 pp

The price includes: 6 nights accommodation in an en-suite room. All meals. All excursions. Guiding. Presentations. Transfers to/from Kingussie

The price does not include: Travel to/from the retreat. Travel/cancellation insurance. Alcoholic drinks (wine is served with dinner). Personal expenses


While the activities of man have taken their toll, the rise of rewilding in Scotland now offers hope that the wild nature for which the country is rightly renowned can be restored.

From Cairngorms Connect to Scotland: The Big Picture, and the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape initiative, today a growing number of inspirational rewilding projects are demonstrating how rewilding can benefit both people and wildlife.

We believe healthy nature and healthy communities go hand in hand. Our Rewilding Retreats demonstrate and support this philosophy.

A key element of rewilding is for communities to see the benefit in restoring wild landscapes and wildlife populations, by creating new economic opportunities which allow them to thrive.

Our retreats visit inspiring rewilding projects where we’ll hear first-hand from the experts on the ground who will provide fascinating insights into their work and explain why rewilding is so beneficial to both wildlife and people. 


Aukje Van Gerven


Meet James

James is an award-winning nature photographer, filmmaker and guide with a passion for rewilding based in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland. Having studied a BSc in Zoology with Conservation and an MSc in Science Communication he has a thorough understanding of conservation issues and a wide array of skills in multimedia production.

James is one of the directors at SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, a non-profit social enterprise focused on rewilding advocacy and communications. 

James has helped create films and books, all with an emphasis on rewilding and currently heads up their Rewilding Retreats programme.

As an advocate for ecotourism as one of the economic benefits of rewilding, James has been guiding nature lovers and photographers across the Scottish Highlands for several years. He will take you in search of amazing wildlife, visit inspiring rewilding initiatives on the ground and explore the potential for a wilder landscape, where land and sea, people and wildlife, businesses and culture flourish together.

“Quite frankly I’m addicted to nature. I can’t emphasise enough that time spent in the wild is good for your body and mind. Hiking to a mountain top for sunrise or walking amongst the gnarled Scots pines of the Caledonian pinewoods are mesmerising experiences, only heightened by armies of woodants building nests, red squirrels performing arboreal acrobatics or the heart stopping glimpses of  golden eagle. There’s so much to explore in the natural world and every time you head outside you’ll see or learn something new, no matter how big or small, and that’s the excitement of nature.”

James Shooter

Rewilding Retreats Scotland