Travel: Charlottefield, complete with outdoor wood-fired bath, is Atholl Estates' dreamy new self-catering cottage

It sleeps four and is situated in Tulliemet, between Dunkeld and Pitlochry
Charlottefield Pic: Alexander BaxterCharlottefield Pic: Alexander Baxter
Charlottefield Pic: Alexander Baxter

“Are we here?” my designated driver asked, as we wound up the path.

Although check-in is from 4pm, it was a very late post-work arrival at Atholl Estates’ newest Highland Lodges cottage, Charlottefield, which joins its Shepherd Huts and new Glen Glack Cabins, among other self-catering options.

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All we could see in the darkness, apart from the vague outline of the fir tree outside, were four amber rectangles against the horizon.

Charlottefield Pic: Alexander BaxterCharlottefield Pic: Alexander Baxter
Charlottefield Pic: Alexander Baxter

The lights were on. It was waiting for us. Cue the excitement, as we reached our destination and fumbled with the key safe. The view into every window was like a perfect snapshot, which increased our urgency to get indoors and settle into our home for the weekend.

This sturdy cottage, on its elevated position overlooking Tulliemet Moor and the River Tummel, was built by the Dick family, who owned the Tulliemet Estate in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the property is named after Dr Dick’s wife, Charlotte. She isn’t the only notable woman who’s had influence around these parts. Apparently, Mary, Queen of Scots, would use the nearby track when travelling to Blair Castle. I wonder if she was also guided by distant lights.

Our first job, on arrival, was to light the fire for the Nordic outdoor bath, which is in the former wood shed and sheltered underneath an awning.

Then, while waiting for it to gradually heat up, we admired this cottage’s glossy-magazine-level decor. You know you’re old when you rate a holiday property by how many comfortable reading nooks it has. This has more than a few, including the red armchair, slung with a tartan blanket and situated by the wood-burning stove, various squishy footstools and the comfy sofa.

Charlottefield's bedroom Pic: Alexander BaxterCharlottefield's bedroom Pic: Alexander Baxter
Charlottefield's bedroom Pic: Alexander Baxter

The white and bright downstairs area is open plan, with lots of vintage furniture, including a round dining table, to seat four, with reclaimed cobalt blue wrought iron legs. There’s a print of a buzzard above the fireplace, and a few quirky objects, like a toadstool-shaped basket that I immediately start Googling, in order to see if I can buy it somewhere.

As far as practicalities go, they’ve got a huge fridge freezer, Nespresso machine, microwave, super efficient oven, plus all the top-of-the-range cooking paraphernalia you could want, including a dresser full of crockery and glasses. Other useful touches include the washing machine and tumble dryer, just outside the WC that’s on the mezzanine level.

That could come in especially useful, if you’re travelling en famille or with a dog. Although the cottage suits couples, the plush and mint-green-painted super king bedroom, is adjacent to a twin bedroom, with its child-friendly painting of white ponies on the wall and a vintage dressing table. On the first floor, you’ll also find a smart bathroom with walk-in shower, plus Highland Soap Company products and a lovely design feature of stripy wallpaper that contrasts with the chintzy plates that are hung above the bath.

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It would be wonderful to say that we got an early night, so we could get up early the next day to spend it exploring the area, except that would be a lie. We waited for the al-fresco bath to heat up, then broiled ourselves under the stars until way past our usual bedtime.

Ground floor at Charlottefield Pic: Alexander BaxterGround floor at Charlottefield Pic: Alexander Baxter
Ground floor at Charlottefield Pic: Alexander Baxter

After a sleep in, we took a short trip to Dunkeld, to pay a visit to Flora Shedden’s wonderful bakery, Aran, where we bagged caramel and walnut tart and lemon poppyseed cake, and bought some wine from another favourite, Redwood. For the rest of the day, intertia reigned supreme, as we played an umpteenth game of Scrabble and listened to the wind outside. It’s strange how you can be somewhere for such a short time, and yet it immediately feels as comfortable as a well worn pair of boots.

We might’ve gone to Blair Castle & Gardens, which has free entry if you’re staying on the estate, but it doesn’t reopen until March 28.

Also if we’d had an energy boost, we could’ve visited Pitlochry, cycled through Glent Tilt, visited The Grandtully Hotel by Ballintaggart for lunch, or just explored the various woodland walks nearby. Apparently, there’s a pair of resident golden eagles around these parts, as well as plenty of red squirrels.

We did look out for them. Honestly.

At least, that’s when our eyes were open. It’s just so easy to drift off, when you’re reading in the cosiest of nooks.

Charlottefield, Tulliemet, Pitlochry (01796 481355, Rates start from £750 per week.

Stay before March 17 for seven nights or more, new bookings only, and enter the code HAMPER at the online checkout to get a free hamper on arrival, worth £55,



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