Rarely have I felt as content as I did earlier this year, at a wonderful little retreat in Scotland called The Woodman’s Hut. Located inside popular Cairngorms National Park, it’s the choice accommodation at Lazy Duck Hostel, a farm and lodging run by a semi-retired couple. (The husband reminded me of Garrison Keillor.)
I remember lighting a fire in the stove and, as its warmth spread throughout the room, thinking that I was experiencing one of life’s simplest, most satisfying pleasures.
Old-time living of this sort can be hard to come by on a per-night basis. But here it is: a cottage built using local larch and sturdy Caledonian pine, blankets made from wool spun at a mill on the nearby River Spey, a box bed modeled on those used by Scottish islanders. The tap water tastes faintly of whisky, because it’s stored in old Glenlivet barrels. It’s a self-catering situation here, and there is no fridge. (I cracked a window and left my butter and milk on the sill to keep them fresh.)
The owners leave detailed instructions in the cabin; if you have an issue, they’re just a few hundred feet away by forest path. Maybe it’s because I’ve stayed in non-electrified cabins before, but I didn’t need the lifeline. I made tea and moved from the rocking chair to the armchair to the porch at dusk, where I lit a pipe and took in the views of misty peaks.
Enveloped in darkness and silence as I lay in bed that night, I gazed up through the skylight. So little, and yet so much.