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Hideaway at The Dell of Abernethy, Cairngorms, Scotland

The Dell of Abernethy is a peaceful retreat with six self-catering cottages in the Cairngorms, Scotland.


The Dell of Abernethy is a peaceful retreat with six self-catering cottages in the Cairngorms, Scotland. 

The Dell History

Once built for the head forester of Seafield Estate, who planted many of the towering trees above the house today, The Dell has been in the Fleming family since the sixties when owner Polly’s Grandparents, John and Elizabeth, decided to purchase The Dell after years of it sitting empty. Together, they set about the first round of renovations to create the holiday destination it is today. Uncle John took the helm on their retirement and now the Dell is home to Polly, husband Ross and their two young boys. Before this, Ross and Polly were living in nearby Rothiemurchus where they had their busy restaurant Ord Ban, a round-the-clock eatery with great food, live music and an art house cinema. Previous to this they had landed on a remote Pacific island managing a beach resort in Fiji. In their ‘spare time’ they co-produced the Insider Festival, a boutique music event set within the valley.

The Dell Location

Nestled within the wilds of the Cairngorms National Park and right on the edge of the ancient Abernethy Forest, The Dell, which is one hour from Inverness airport and twenty minutes from Aviemore train station, is a haven for wildlife and perfectly placed to experience the unique habitat of the area year-round. In fact, in 2019, The Dell was the home of BBC Winterwatch, Springwatch and Autumnwatch; a beautiful showcase of the wonderful Cairngorms through the seasons. Capercaillie, Pine Marten, Red squirrel, Golden Eagle, White tailed eagle, Wildcat, Crossbill, Roe Deer, Badger, Owl, Mountain Hare, Common Lizard, Crested Tits, Brambling, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch are just some of the wildlife you can spot from The Dell.

The Dell itself is set in four acres of gardens and pine forests dotted with organic vegetable gardens, chickens, a zipline, swings, a trampoline and petanque for the kids to encourage a wild, free and unplugged holiday. Abernethy Nature reserve is right on the doorstep with its ancient Caledonian pine forest with over 35 km of trails marked out, ideal for walking and biking. Accessible trails for wheelchair users and buggies are also available. The peaceful, friendly village of Nethy Bridge is just one mile along the riverside walk with Nethy Bridge being well placed for some wonderful day trips; north to the Moray coast and the village of Findhorn, east to Braemar, Royal Deeside and Fife Arms and west to Ullapool in a couple of hours.

The Dell of Abernethy

The Dell Accommodation

The six self-catering lodges and cottages offer the perfect escape for couple, group and family holidays and no better base for exploring the Cairngorms National Park and beyond. Although formed from the original building, each lodge or cottage offer their own privacy and character but can also be linked internally for those big family or group gatherings via secret bookcases and Narnia-style doorways.

The largest cottage, West Dell, was the first building to occupy The Dell site as a crofter’s black house. Its deep-set windows look out to a wide aspect down the main west lawn and is a perfect family cottage with large open plan living spilling out onto the main lawn, featuring original deep set windows and beautiful axe-cut beams. Dell Lodge, which sleeps eight, has recently undergone a beautiful restoration; stripped back to its core and introduced to simple luxury and quirky furnishing. The Dell Cottage is a beautiful, spacious hideaway for two, nestled on the eastern wing of the Dell boasting a stunning sun filled living space packed with vintage furniture, an open fire and a huge walk-in shower. Little Dell, offers aromantic retreat for two, with a warm and cosy wood burning stove and tall Victorian windows overlooking the back lawn. The most secluded cottage, East Dell, sleeps five and is tucked around the corner with a beautiful aspect Eastward across the fields and River Nethy. It has its own enclosed garden and ‘sit-ootery’. The South Dell, which was once the main kitchen of Dell Lodge also sleeps six and although tastefully modernised, retains a huge granite surround which once housed a cast iron range with bread oven and whisky still.

The Dell Food & Drink

The Dell is a real home from home, and to make everything as easy as possible the on site ‘Dell Grocer’ (open Monday – Saturday), is stocked with homemade oven meals, fresh vegetables, chilled wine, hot coffee and sourdough plus holiday treats, a selection of books and bows and arrows for the kids – all the essentials for a stress-free stay. You can also pre-order groceries with 48 hours notice to ensure a fully stocked cottage on arrival to feed those hungry children. Tasty things to throw in the oven after a long walk, fun meal kits to get the kids involved with and even grazing platters are available to share around the fire with a carefully paired wine. Polly and Ross have brought together some of their favourite independent producers showcasing their unique local larder. Between themselves and their amazing village stores, they aim to provide all the whimsical holiday needs to maximise The Dell experience whilst helping support the local economy.

The Dell of Abernethy
The fire pit, photo Catriona Parmenter

The Dell Experiences

The Dell can organise a range of activities all bookable via their concierge team, from bike rentals and guided bike and wildlife walking tours to soundscape walking meditation, private yoga, massage and Craniosacral therapy. There’s even axe throwing and wood carving. Private dining and private parties are also available for those special occasions.

The Dell’s woodland Tipi is their pride and joy. Nestled in the tall pine trees and surrounded by nature, The Dell plays host to events, workshops and classes throughout the year. A beautiful fire pit sits in the centre surrounded by vintage seating, German beer hall tables, a locally stocked bar and soft lightning and candles. During the school holidays The Dell Pizza Nights take place every Thursday evening in the Tipi and this summer they’ll also be hosting a series of Supper Clubs in their unique style of combining live acoustic performances in between courses, promising a really special evening with new friends, lovely botanical cocktails and dreamy music.

Next to the Tipi is the Fire Pit that guests in residence can book for £25 for a two and half hour session. The fire pit will be pre lit  with an ample supply of wood, cushions for comfort plus sheepskin rugs and blankets to keep warm whilst toasting marshmallows and smores from the Dell Grocer. There’s also a spit roast BBQ which can be booked £40 for exclusive use along with all the coal and utensils you’ll need.

They also have the usual run of different residential wellness retreats throughout the year, including an Ashtanga Luxury Yoga Retreat (19 -26 April), a luxurious week of Ashtanga Yoga, community and nutritious food hosted by Katy Scherer and Joseph Armstrong. The week will consist of traditional Ashtanga Mysore practice as well as daily breathing and meditation sessions and afternoon workshops. Scottish singer, composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Siobhan Wilson will be performing at The Dell on 17 May followed by an acoustic supper club evening on the Saturday. Throughout July, The Dell Makers Market brings together a wonderful assortment of crafters, artists and food and drink producers from the local area to showcase their fantastic products. Hang out under the trees listening to live music, watch demonstrations from local green woodworkers and fill up your bellies on food and drink. The Dell’s annual Tipi Sunday Social (18 Aug) marks the end of summer with food trucks on site and DJs providing the foot stomping tunes from 2pm. A perfect end to the summer holidays. Come November, The Dell will host its first ‘Wintering Retreat’ (25 -29 Nov), the first in a series of Dell curated retreats based in the cosy Dell Lodge. Joining forces with the incredible yoga teacher Katie White, these four days of cosy immersion will teach guests how to ‘tune in’ to winter with slow morning practices, evening fireside Nidra, lazy brunches and deeply nourishing soul food. They will have optional classes in cookery with a focus on nutritional meal planning, crafting and a beautiful walking sound meditation and massage, leaving guests more aligned, more connected and re-charged for the year ahead.

New for 2024

For a real Scottish adventure, The Dell has recently teamed up with WildTrax, who rent out amazing classic 4×4 Land Rovers, some of which come with an incredible rooftop tent specially designed for the Scottish weather, offering a brilliant way to explore more of the stunning landscapes and rugged terrain of the Highlands.

Prices at The Dell start from £160 for Little Dell for two people. Until the end of March The Dell of Abernethy is running a promotion for mid week stays, where if you stay for four nights mid week (Monday – Friday) you receive the 4th night free with code ‘Hideaway’.

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Travel Begins at 40

Travel Begins at 40 Editor

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