The noise and pace of the modern world can be difficult to ignore at times; I know I’m not the only one who has been craving a slower lifestyle and is making a conscious effort to be more mindful in recent months. Arriving at Inverlonan, just a few miles from Oban, I already felt a weight lift as I became absorbed in our beautiful surroundings.
Inverlonan has re-imagined the bothy experience: it’s what they call “rough luxury” – a beautifully designed and well-catered space, but – like the bothies that inspired them – commodities we might take for granted are more sparse. There’s no running hot water, only an outside long-drop toilet, and a shower bag you have to heat the water for on the stove. As such, simple tasks – boiling water, brewing tea, washing, making breakfast – are stripped back to basics. A time of off-grid living, heating and cooking on the fire and outdoor toilets in the UK isn’t so long ago when you think about it, yet we still take many of these privileges for granted here today. I certainly won’t be taking them for granted again after our stay at Inverlonan, where slow living is so much more than an aesthetic or a hashtag – but a beautiful way of life.
The bothies are nestled in two spots overlooking the stunning Loch Nell. Beatha (“bay-ah”) (where we stayed) is further up the hill – you can see the loch through the surrounding oak trees and it is a wee bit more secluded in a way, while Uisge (“oosh-ka”) overlooks the loch directly. The bothies are sensitive to the landscape and reflective of it, with picture windows framing the beautiful views. They are made from and decorated with natural materials that truly complement the surroundings. It’s as though the bothy, you and the landscape merge into one as you become absorbed in the nature all around; no disturbances. In one day, we spotted a red squirrel (see if you can spot it above!), deer and dragonfly. Bliss.
The most luxurious element of staying at Inverlonan (as well as the gorgeous design) is the food. Included in your stay is a seriously indulgent breakfast, which you cook over one of the fires. My highlight was cooking with the egg spoon, serving my freshly baked eggs with Inverlonan’s homemade baked beans. We opted for sourdough pizzas on the first night (there is even a pizza oven: make sure you get it really hot!) and our shaping efforts improved with each pizza. I was shocked when I saw three hours had passed while we were making and eating them, truly absorbed in our delicious task. The second night we had the unforgettable Wild Dining experience (more on that next week) and on the last night, we had Inverlonan’s homegrown veg cooked over the fire, while Al had local langoustines (so fresh, one of them was still moving). Again, taking it back to basics and slowing down made me really appreciate every mouthful.
I read a whole book, watched the waves on the loch, went for walks and filled pages in my sketchbook. I came back creatively reinvigorated by our time away, and with a new appreciation for my bathroom! Joking aside, do make sure you’re up for the toileting experience, and be aware that the bothies are only reached by buggy (or boat!) so pack light and wear comfy footwear – though the team give you a lift to the bothy on the first day and back to the carpark when you leave. Bring your midge spray and a sense of adventure, as well as a willingness to truly switch off. This is a place like nowhere else I’ve been. Pure magic.