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The anticipation was killing me. Knowing what lay ahead was filling me with pure elation. The only thing standing in my way was a four hundred and thirty nine mile drive.

An arduous journey of endless cats eyes, concrete, potholes and empty packets of Haribo. Travel sweets are usually shared but on this occasion my passenger took great delight in eating everything in the car!

Crossing the Scottish border is one thing, waving at the flag sign and playing some piping music to make it official that we’re in Scotland is just plain sad, but I can’t help it! When you hit north of Pitlochry, Scotland comes alive. Rugged landscape, dark thunder clouds, snow capped mountains and beautiful scenery all in one day.

 

And then you arrive…….. Alladale Reserve.

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Located 1.5 miles up a well maintained dirt track, Alladale sits proudly above the Carron River Valley. A beautiful place set in movie scene landscapes offering you the escape we all so badly need.

What Alladale offers is a unique escape for couples or families alike. Multiple accommodation options are available, from the main house to highland cabins that are fully heated and complete with electricity. This may not sound exciting, however trust me, when you see given the location, it’s pretty amazing.

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The main lodge contains everything a great escape needs. The best thing about it, absolutely no phone reception at all. Utter bliss! For those of us that need a lifeline to the outside world there is wifi so you’re sadly not completely cut off.

Each room could be dressed for double or twin use. A multitude of space for you and your family in large front facing rooms, which had stunning views of the encroaching valley. All ensuite, giving you complete privacy and a thoroughly comfortable, peaceful stay.

Although the house and other cabins are for group bookings, Alladale have now opened up rooms for sole occupancy in the main house to help boost bookings out of season.

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Tom, the chef, was outstanding. Each morning he provided a lovely cooked breakfast, from a full English, to eggs Benedict, Haggis and much more. Along with this came a cracking hamper for lunch, full off the best sandwiches and homemade sausage rolls you will ever eat. Nothing is too much if you just ask for it.

The best time for me, however, was the evening. Coming in after a long day out on a photo shoot battling all types of weather, there was always a warm welcome, an open fire and a stiff G&T. Note that Alladale do not supply alcohol so it is BYO unless requested in advance. While relaxing, you can gaze into the wilderness and watch the local red deer feeding on the lawn.

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Then to the main event. Tom never failed to provide food that turned a room of laughter into a room of silence. You know when you have food that just silences you? The food here was like that. One of the highlights of my trip to Alladale.

If the Scottish elements are too much for you and some indoor activity is required, you could always sample the snooker room, gym and sauna. Great ways to burn off the healthy food provided by Tom and the team.

I can’t recommend Alladale Reserve enough. This scenic, highland getaway will clear your mind and bring you back down to earth.

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Photos courtesy of Andy Le Gresley

 

YSP March 2018 (62 of 62)

No such thing as bad weather…only bad clothes @ The Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Thank god the snow’s finally starting to clear in my part of Yorkshire. It’s been four days since leaving the house and I’m finally FREE!!!

The blisteringly cold winds can claim responsibility for the endless snow drifts and me not being able to leave the house. If you’ve read through my previous post you may remember, my attempted walk did not go well.

It’s so important to wrap up in the right clothes as having insufficient clothing will only spoil your day. Check out my clothing of choice for todays winter walkies at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Read to the end to see what I wore and which brands to look at!

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The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is situated at Bretton Park just off the M1 at junction 38 heading north towards Leeds. In 1720 Sir William Wentworth built the Palladian mansion that forms the centre of today’s Bretton Hall. Sir William’s son, Sir Thomas Wentworth, created a lot of the parks and gardens around his father’s mansion, including having the River Dearne dammed and the lakes dug out.

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There are multiple entrances. The first you come to from Junction 38 is being developed, avoid that one at the moment. Enter through the main entrance as it winds you down to the newly built YSP Learning & Cafe which is a stunning glass fronted multi-storey building looking out over the park.

 

 

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This offers great food, drink, art and a nice shop containing prints, china, books and more.

The best thing for me is that you can walk in straight from the park in your wellies and there is also a seating area outside if you have you dogs with you.

In the park there is another cafe for drinks and snacks, which is perfect if you spend a bit of time on site.

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I like art. I’ve been to a few galleries and studied, well actually, took part in art at school using mostly felt-tip pens (just to annoy my teachers).

Some of the Sculptures here are interesting and some of them to be honest I just don’t understand but of course I am no art scholar. There are some very spectacular sections that use film which I love, for example in the old Chapel. There is also this LED screen which changes from time to time but always gets my attention.

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My favourite part though is Hiroon Mirza Deer Shelter Skyspace. Walking through a gate you look onto three stone archways that are built under the land above. Open door ways on both sides are very subtly lit from the floor offering a walkway into the shelter. What’s funny about it though is in the main room there is a square hole in the ceiling, Yorkshire’s own Pantheon. If you sit round the edge of the room on the stone shelf and it rains you can sit in dry contentment and watch a perfect shower coming through. Very cool and good for contemplation.

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Apart from the Loo Trees which I simply don’t get. Old porcelain loos and dustbins stuck to a bunch of metal trees… it’s just not pretty. However, there are always new Exhibitions like the:

Zak Ové: Black and Blue: The Invisible Men and the Masque of Blackness

Quite a fun exhibition especially for slightly older children, like me…

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If you’re wanting more of a walk, the park is large enough to cater for a good hour and a half trek up to Longside Gallery and back down in a loop. Check out the map to show you where to go. This a great walk and well worth it.

Careful though, it might tire you out…

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The only downside is that dogs are welcome but have to be on leads. I understand completely but a bit boring. There is a sneaky track up the side of the park though it you want to let them lose. Just go to the Cascade Bridge and turn facing north. There a small gateway straight ahead of you.

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We’re lucky we only live just down the road, so the YSP is a regular haunt of ours and one I recommend visiting.

Check out my clothing & footwear tip from todays trip:

loop tackle

Although Loop maybe a Fly Fishing brand supplying the finest technical equipment, they also provide Technical Outer Wear suitable for the worst of conditions. Today, one of my under layers was the Loop Leipik Liner Jacket. This Primaloft jacket keeps you very warm!

 

Sasta_color_1Sasta provide some of the most hardcore clothing on the market. Check out my Associates Page to learn more about this great brand. My jacket today, a one off that somehow I managed to acquire years ago, is outstanding and continues, after years of use, to keep the weather out.

 

1464165864-35326100Where would you be without our favourite Schoffel Oakham Gilets. I have to admit that originally when looking at a gilet for shooting I looked for anything other than the Schoffel because everyone was wearing them. First choice was Musto and it was nice, but, after a few seasons In gave in a bought myself a Schoffel Oakham. Yup, it really is that nice and so much nicer than any I have worn. It’s now a standard part of my casual and work wardrobe.

 

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Wellies. I do love my Muck Boots and yes they really do the job in every condition. Ice, snow and slippery concrete were the enemies today and they Mens Arctic Outpost ruled them all. There is another alternative now from Muck Boots that is simply awesome…The Arctic Ice Grip. Check out the video’s below. These boots are perfect for anyone wanting the ultimate grip

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To go with Muck Boots check out Wigwam Socks. I’m not sure why but I go through socks all the time. Not just cheap socks but expensive ones also. I have now been wearing these socks every time I go waking and they have yet to fall apart and are really warm and comfortable. Check them out.