NAVIGATING narrow, snowy roads in the north-west Scottish Highlands in winter means you come across hundreds of animals seemingly unaware of the shocking temperature. Well-upholstered sheep take their time getting out of the way, red deer eye you nonchalantly from the slopes and buzzards soar overhead, planning their next meal.
After driving through the handsome and appropriately named Avenue of Trees in the stunning Ross-shire village area of Letters, about a 45-minute drive from Inverness, it’s easy to spot our digs for the weekend: a simple-looking black-clad timber cabin.
It sits a few feet uphill from its slightly older sibling, the similar but larger Taigh a Chnuic B&B, where the owners Anne-Marie and Michael live. Thick snow stops us from getting our city car up to the house so hike we must.
The Studio Hoose is a new addition to the portfolio of Canopy & Stars, which specialises in unusual places in nature. Overlooking Loch Broom, which can be seen from every room, the cabin also offers views of the Beinn Dearg summit, the closest Munro.
Kicking snow off our boots, we arrive to a warm welcome, a fresh loaf of home-made bread and biscuits. We fire up the wood-burning stove, wondering how people who have these at home ever get anything done, and gaze out of the big windows as the sun sets.
USP: The Studio Hoose is a beautifully designed timber cabin, made from sustainable materials. There’s a double bedroom, another with twin beds and a kitchen that leads to the lounge with a super-efficient stove. Not that you’ll need it: there’s under-floor heating that’s a mesmerising treat. There’s a little veranda outside the lounge, where birds take advantage of hanging feeders.
Who goes there? Anyone who loves clean air, starry skies and walking beside sparkling lochs, through forests and up into ancient hills. If you’re lucky you might see eagles, red squirrels, pine martens and even the Northern Lights. This place is heaven for nature lovers. Stars of the show are Moby, the owners’ outrageously soft and fluffy cat, and timid Meg, the border collie. Michael is a hill runner, so if that’s your thing he’s got some good advice.
Venture out: You need a car. The cabin is a 15-minute drive from Ullapool, a village and fishing port that would make a great location for a tartan noir drama. It’s your best option for stocking up on food or eating out. The Celidh Place (theceilidhplace.com), The Arch Inn (thearchinn.co.uk) and The Frigate (facebook.com/frigate.ullapool) are all recommended, and there’s a seafood shack in the warmer months. We opt for a three-hour walk through Inverlael Forest, which is magnificently snowy and quiet, and drive west beyond Ullapool to Ardmair and Rhue, which have a great view of the Summer Isles.
From £145 per night, canopyandstars.co.uk