Happy New Year Everyone!
We’re into January week 2 already….. I’ll catch up!! We hope you’ve all enjoyed some downtime and fun with loved ones over the festive period despite the difficulties many are experiencing in the current financial climate.
Although clearly not positive for Highland energy bills, early winter saw Boat of Garten, Strathspey and the Cairngorms at their scenic best as beautiful glistening winter wonderlands! But tricky to get around sometimes! If you would like to stay at the cottage over these periods when there is deep fresh snow, be prepared to perhaps leave your car at the bottom of the driveway as sometimes it is just impossible to get up (I have seen even Land Rovers fail!!), even if salted – and we don’t have our own snow plough!
Time to resort to sledge power! There’s a couple there for the use of guests whenever there’s real wintry weather. We haven’t seen the -13/14 ºC temperatures we had in early December since, but there is still snow around, certainly higher up on Cairngorm Mountain. No matter the time of year, there are always exhilarating activities to be undertaken around the National Park; at this time of year, made all the more satisfying returning to a warm cosy cottage!
Highway to Heaven
Talking of transport options, having worked hard on renewable energy and wild garden biodiversity last year, we want to try to focus on encouraging greener transport options in 2023. Sledges are still our favourite low-carbon option – working off tattie power and gravity!
For longer distances, we have had a “Car-Free-To-Cairngorms” initiative running since 2019, where we started encouraging guests to leave the car at home in exchange for a discount on the cottage rental. However, clearly, the pandemic made long train journeys riskier for health and only a few have taken this up, so far. But, we still see this as a way to reduce our footprint, and, win-win, improve and extend the holiday experience of our guests! Visit Car-Free-To-Cairngorms to discover how your holiday can be even better!
Even although we obviously don’t live there, I always loved the idea of going to bed in London and waking up in the Cairngorms! Check out the Caledonian Sleeper service, or there are many day time trains for those who’d like to see the scenery en route. At Aviemore station there is an array of transport options to get you the last 5-7 miles to the cottage (distance depending on whether you take the road or the Speyside Way!). The Heritage Horizons – Cairngorms 2030 project is building an e-bike network across the National Park – the option to jump on an e-bike (with a wee luggage trailer attached) to scoot along the Speyside Way to the cottage, is now almost reality! We also arrange more standard options, like hire cars, to be waiting at Aviemore station too for those who envisage needing more conventional transport for their holiday – still a big carbon saving getting to Aviemore on the train!
But, we now also have a further option since we installed solar panels and battery storage last year, connected to a smart Zappi electric vehicle (EV) charger. This charger is the leading edge in optimising sun-powered EV charging. Imagine if your holiday travel could be powered by the sun! We have the technology!!
Of course, whether it would be 100% solar would depend on many factors, including, obviously, how sunny it is (or has been – Strathspey has higher than Scottish average sunshine levels!), the level of battery charge, how much solar power you are using in the cottage, and how far you’re travelling (may not get you to Skye!). But the kit will optimise across EV / battery / any use in cottage, before it uses any grid (or avoids grid and waits for the sun to come out / generate surplus!). Not only that, but, if grid electricity needed, it will time charging to lower tariff periods too! Personally, blown away by how smart this is all becoming so quickly….. or perhaps just as smart as everything needs to become to fix a climate emergency!
So, although we can’t currently provide an EV for your stay, we provide this “green bonus” of free power to anybody staying at the cottage arriving in their own EV. Although we do have to have a “cap” on free grid pulled power, in case some do travel significant distances on their holidays, for local travel this will end up free for most.
Make Space For Nature
We realise we are so fortunate to already have an established large wild and wonderful space for nature. So, conservation and biodiversity enhancement action will continue to be top priorities for us around the cottage and Boat of Garten. However, in the spirit of sustainability, as we all seek to address the current ecological and climate crises, we would also like to be wider advocates for meaningful action to enhance our wild, and less wild, places and overall biodiversity.
So, we’d like to outline and share a very worthwhile initiative recently launched by Nature Scotland, the guardians of Scotland’s natural heritage – Make Space For Nature.
In addition to giving lots of advice and tips for action to take across the 4 seasons, the initiative also helps to remind us that many of today’s issues of greatest concern are connected – they suggest:
- Nature isn’t just nice to have. We all need nature to survive – from the air we breathe to the water we drink and the food we eat.
- We aren’t just in a climate crisis – we’re also in a nature crisis.
- Nature is impacted by climate change but restoring nature will help to tackle climate change.
- By protecting nature, we can recover what we have lost and store up to 30% of the necessary emissions globally, helping combat climate change.
- We call these ‘nature-based solutions’.
So, in 2023 and beyond, all power to you in implementing your nature-based solutions, and all the best to everyone!