Autumn at The Boat House in Rothiemurchus is truly enchanting
Waking up to misty mornings at The Boat House with the rising sun sparkling on drops of dew caught by delicate cobwebs woven at daybreak, with shades of gold, bronze and amber painting the surrounding dreamy riverside location in Rothiemurchus in the Highlands of Scotland. Leaves crunching underfoot while you wander underneath the autumnal canopy during woodland walks with your two and four-legged friends(s). During the autumn months, they seem to be everywhere, seemingly frantically.
Swallows and the young they reared in the rafters of the old garage have flown to Europe on the way to spend the winter in South Africa but during the Autumn months, around Rothiemurchus Red squirrels seem to have taken over their endless activity scurrying up and down trees and through leaves from dawn to dusk, frantically making the most of every moment to gather their store of food to last until Spring. Especially towards the end of the October days, the deep-throated grunting ‘roar’ of Red Deer stags can echo around the hills, warning younger stags not to challenge them and making sure ‘their’ hinds know who is the most powerful mate. In the late afternoon frosty stillness of October, it is one of the evocative Highland sounds.
Whether you have been exploring with canvas, camera, a flask of hot tea or just enjoying, one of the joys of autumn is returning to hot chocolate and cake before a luxurious, long, candlelit soak in a free-standing tub watching the sunset over the hills, then snuggling up under a cosy throw on a squidgy sofa watching the dancing flames of the wood fires, with the book you have longed to read or the movie you have been dying to watch. Our chill-out room with its TV huge screen and log burning stove is perfect.
Many of us are looking forward to watching the new Bond movie ‘No Time to Die’, which at last can be released. You are probably aware that Rothiemurchus has been the location for many movies, TV dramas and advertising. Last summer (2019), just as the two-year complete renovation of The Boat House was being completed, the production company asked whether we had a very secluded, stylish, luxurious and spacious three bedroomed house available to rent. There was, as is usual with filming, complete secrecy and at the entrance to the drive both gates were kept closed, however, during the long summer evenings a beautiful woman was sometimes seen near The Boat House looking at the views and the Highland cattle.
When we found the lovely message she left in our visitor’s book (sorry, not currently in the house as part of sanitising), “Thank you so much for this amazing place. I had the time of my life”. Léa Seydoux, we realised the first guest was the French star and James Bond’s love interest in this major film.
We were told that Léa fell in love with The Boat House and we were delighted she could experience the magic of Rothiemurchus and The Highlands of Scotland in such a romantic hideout.
We hope her memories last a lifetime as they do for so many visitors to Rothiemurchus and like many, return.
There are so many reasons to love Autumn in Rothiemurchus and particularly reconnecting with nature through our amazing produce. Those of us who are fortunate to live here often take our amazing super fresh seafood, beef, venison, lamb, fruit and cheeses for granted as we live with it on our doorstep, and we don’t realise that the fresh produce of the Highlands of Scotland is renowned throughout the world. However, our Highland secret is that Autumn is the best time of year to enjoy our treats.
One of autumn’s delights is foraging for woodland fungi, particularly delicate Chanterelles. This year there is also a great crop of Brambles (blackberries in the South) to make into jelly or with apples into crumble – yum.
There is a reason why we were brought up to believe that shellfish is best when there is an ‘r’ in the month. We spend May to August waiting for September, October, and the winter months when the seas are colder and sea fish and shellfish are at their best; we think fish caught in cold water tastes so much better. We regularly remind ourselves of our good fortune at having Pro Fish, one of the best family-run fishmongers in the U.K. who win prizes at Billingsgate Market (London), that our seafood lured them from their French home to Aviemore.
This summer has been the most amazing growing year – the grass only started slowing down last week. As a result livestock is blooming and our purebred Highland beef and red deer look wonderful. The Farm Shop’s expert butchers – Brian and Fraser are flat out trying to make sure that they keep growing numbers of customers supplied with our exceptional venison and beef. Grant the Rothiemurchus farmer and his assistant Kevin are half way through the Spring barley harvest and so far samples of barley have met the exacting specifications for malting for malt whisky, which is a great relief as they have a contract to fulfil. You can follow Grant’s entertaining @rothiemurchus_farm on Instagram.
In The Boat House garden, neglected hundred-year-old apple trees are groaning with apples and there’s a good crop of pears on the old pear tree on the wall opposite the door to the kitchen. Bunches of red rowan berries – one of the iconic sights of the Highland autumn, are starting to appear on the ancient Rowan tree in front of the front door. Making rowan jelly to enjoy with our velvety Rothiemurchus venison is an annual Rothiemurchus autumn ritual.
Rowan trees were traditionally planted at the entrance to a home to ward off the witches, underneath is a cobbled square and inside the house, immediately opposite the front door a small sliding hatch. It is thought The Boat House was a ‘hostelry’ and after horses were tied up under the tree, drinks – probably beer, were served through the hatch. Customers sat in the rooms either side of the front door – the Rowan bedroom and the Chill Out whose door was originally first on the left.
As you can probably tell, Autumn is one of our favourite times of the year. There so much happening but more time to enjoy it. We love sharing our secrets although then they aren’t secrets any longer and welcoming visitors who are not limited by school and public holidays to enjoy this magical season with its incredible colours.