Wellbeing is Everywhere

Slow down and immerse yourself

Amidst our vibrant andbustling towns and villages, there are some special places in the Highlands operating at a different pace.

Our landscapes have changed little over the centuries with ecosystems that have taken millennia to form, and which are being nurtured and restored to create truly extraordinary places. Presented with these exceptional, unspoilt environments, it is only natural that so many visitors are inspired to engage with them and immerse themselves. They are the perfect place to slow down, reconnect with the present and leave the stresses and cares of modern life behind. Recognising the uniqueness of these environments, people are working across the Highlands to create a multitude of ways for you to connect with our landscapes. Our mountaintops, lochs, glens and coastline all offer immersive experiences that will not just allow you to escape everyday life but enhance the way you see your life as a whole. You can explore true mindfulness with grounding forest bathing experiences in ancient woodlands or submerge yourself in the landscape with a wild swimming adventure in one of the thousands of pristine freshwater and sea lochs for which the Highlands are famous. To get a deeper perspective of how the landscape has shaped our Highland culture and folklore, why not go on one of our story-based walks. Or you could actively taste the landscape with a guided foraging experience where local experts introduce you to the Highland’s exceptional wild harvest. However you choose to immerse yourself, we can promise that the Highlands will rise to the challenge and make it an experience that will stay with you for life.

Story walks of culture and folklore

With Strathspey Storywalks, explore gems and untold stories which are very much part of places, but often hidden or forgotten. This is a different adventure, a different way to explore. It isn’t high adrenaline, it isn’t high-altitude, it isn’t fast-paced – it’s about connection and guardianship and care, which is radical in its own way. Strathspey is an incredibly rich area – in stories, songs, and music – but this is sometimes not obvious, particularly for visitors passing through.
Founder Sarah Hobbs wants to make the most of what’s already here and so Strathspey Storywalks is a very low-key, low-impact business, taking small groups of people aged 3-80+ on informal, slow explorations through the woods around Aviemore.
The walks bring together folklore, history, nature, foraging and Gaelic heritage, as these things cannot be separated. On the walks, taste seasonal wild teas whilst local stories of kings, witches, fairy folk, highwaymen and a Gaelic song or two are shared!

About The founder

Sarah Hobbs is a mountain lover and quiet explorer, hailing from Derbyshire, via Norway, Egypt and London. The landscapes, the people and the reindeer brought me to the Scottish Highlands and Aviemore, which has become my home.
Wandering and wondering about placenames in the hills led Sarah to begin learning Scottish Gaelic. That has opened up a whole world of stories and songs linked to places and communities, some of which she shares during the walks. She particularly likes the Gaelic working songs – òrain obrach – and informal singsongs down the pub…
For most of her life, Sarah has worked with communities to uncover and draw out hidden stories or narratives, for social change. She has worked to address systemic social inequalities in the UK, in health and education, and also organised and run cultural expeditions for young people to the Middle East and South Asia for peer-to-peer learning beyond stereotypes. The walks continue some of this, exploring hidden gems and untold stories which are part of the fabric of places, but often hidden or forgotten. With time, Sarah hopes to expand the range of walks within and around Aviemore and Strathspey.

Re-discover your creativity with photographic retreats

Quiet Landscapes retreats and workshops are led by renowned landscape and seascape photography specialist Margaret Soraya.
The landscape photography workshops take place in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands and are an opportunity to catch your breath, relax, and develop an understanding of mindful photography.
Margaret specialises in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. Living close to the shore of Loch Ness, these are places she knows and loves. Margaret also has a deep passion for the Outer Hebrides, Inner Hebrides and Orkney Isles.
Taking part in a landscape photography workshop provides time to immerse yourself in nature and allow the quiet of the landscape to seep in. The pace is slow, and the teaching is gentle in Margaret’s workshops.
The landscapes and seascapes are remote, wild, and revitalizing. And Margaret is a kind and encouraging tutor who passionately believes in helping others. She creates each photography workshop and retreat with the same care and attention she gives to each client.

About the founder

Margarets great passion is for the sea and water, surf, SUP, wild swim, and spends most of her time in or photographing water.

Margaret Soraya is a landscape photography retreat leader and has been a professional photographer for 18 years. Sharing, teaching, and helping people with their photographic journey is her great passion.
In 2018, Margaret created Quiet Landscapes from a belief in the power of quiet and a love of remote, wild landscapes in the UK. In an increasingly noisy world, she wanted to share these quiet, beautiful places.
Margaret is based in Drumnadrochit, on the edge of Loch Ness in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland with her two sons. Allowing her easy access to many of the most beautiful Highland landscapes such as Glen Affric, the North West coast, the Moray Coast and the dramatic coastline of Caithness. As well as being able to travel easily to some of the most favourite Scottish Islands including The Outer Hebrides, The Inner Hebrides and Orkney.

Forest Bathing or Shinrin-Yoku

An Darach Forest Therapy is part of Darach Social Croft’s range of nature-connection activities, offering guided Forest Bathing and Nature-Connection activities and experiences in the tranquillity of the Scottish Highlands.

Shinrin-Yoku is a practice originating in Japan, translated into English meaning ‘Forest Bathing’, sometimes referred to as ‘Forest Therapy’ or ‘Silvotherapy’ too. Forest Bathing is a health-promoting practice that involves spending time outdoors in nature, sitting peacefully or walking slowly and leisurely through the woods or forest, immersing yourself in the natural environment and mindfully using all your senses. The practice enhances well-being and relieves stress by increasing peoples’ nature-connection and harnessing the healing and restorative powers of nature. People who follow this practice appreciate that it is physically, psychologically and spiritually beneficial to spend time ‘bathing’ in the atmosphere of the forest, and there is an increasing amount of research evidence to support this. Importantly, people with higher levels of nature-connection often do more for nature, both in terms of reducing their impact on the environment through using fewer resources and through taking positive actions to help wildlife and the wider natural environment. As with many practices, such as yoga or meditation, Forest Bathing and Nature-Connection Practices can be beneficial when you learn how to do them by yourself but can be even more beneficial when you are introduced to them and led by an experienced guide.

A guided Forest Bathing walk usually lasts around two hours, but in this time we may only walk about a mile. During your walk, Hugh, as your guide, will periodically stop to offer Forest Bathing ‘invitations’. A Forest Bathing ‘invitation’ is an activity intended to encourage you to connect with the natural world around you through your different senses, heightening your sensory awareness and increasing your nature-connection. You can read more about ‘What to Expect on a Forest Bathing Walk’ on their website. 

An Darach Forest Therapy has also produced a range of Forest Bathing and Nature-Connection Booklets to support self-guided nature-connection activities and address the increasing prevalence of eco-anxiety that people are experiencing. You can find out more about the different in-person and online nature-connection activities and resources that are offered at www.silvotherapy.co.uk.

About The Founder:

Hugh is a certified Forest Bathing Guide having trained with the Institute and is a member of the Forest Therapy Hub. He lives with his wife and a menagerie of animals (including Pygmy Goats!) on a Highland Croft, which they run as a ‘Social Croft’. A Social Croft is the Scottish equivalent of a Care Farm providing social, mental health, and educational care services, using a blend of therapeutic farming practices and nature-based craft and nature-connection activities.

Hugh is very passionate about supporting people to increase their nature-connection, both for their own individual benefit and for the wider environmental benefits that this can bring, as people with higher levels of nature-connection often do more for nature, both in terms of reducing their impact on the environment through using fewer resources and through taking positive actions to help wildlife and the wider natural environment.