Nestled among towering trees and roaming wildlife, arriving at Brucefield Estate feels like stepping out of the hectic pace of day-to-day life and into a little slice of tranquillity, says Lily Smith.
The sun had finished setting, and the country lanes were getting darker and narrower. Then, as we turned the final corner, we were greeted by a sunny yellow cottage, gently illuminated against its pitch-black surroundings: Slackbrae Cottage.
Set in a stunning location, which is just waiting to be explored, this inviting cottage is ideal for anyone in need of a rural retreat. Upon entering the accommodation, it’s hard not to feel transfixed by the interior design, which blends modern, Scandinavian decor with cosy, traditional Scottish details.
From the clean white walls and warm wooden floors to the rustic furniture made from local trees and the huge windows and skylights – this cottage really is something to behold. The chosen design is not only beautifully stylish: it’s also incredibly efficient and eco-friendly. This is even more impressive when you learn that the building within which you’re standing has a 700-year history, and used to be a forester’s cottage before it underwent a complete makeover.
A cosy evening: complete with a roaring fire and delicious dinner
Upon arriving in Scotland, we immediately felt the temperature drop. However, the accommodation features underfloor heating, as well as central heating, so needless to say we were incredibly toasty. Despite this, we couldn’t resist using – one of the star features of the accommodation – the masonry stove.
Sourced from Scotland’s only masonry stove designer, this log-burning fire is like no other I’ve ever seen before. They are commonly found in woodland areas throughout Europe, such as the alps and Nordic countries. However, they remain a rarity in the UK.
Oozing with efficiency, when you light the fire (using well-seasoned hardwood logs from the estate) the surrounding stone heats up and gently emits heat for up to 18 hours. This keeps the cottage perfectly cosy all night long. Owner and biologist, Victoria Bruce-Winkler, told us that they were incredibly proud to have acquired this super-efficient stove. It’s not hard to see why.
For our dinner, the estate kindly provided us with a delicious chicken curry, complete with fresh vegetables and salad, all sourced from a local catering business in Dollar, Troy Ann’s Caribbean Kitchen. The cottage’s large kitchen is well-equipped for cooking. Alternatively, there are plenty of local restaurants and takeaways if you fancy a night off!
Exploring Brucefield Estate: local produce, rare wildlife and a rich history
On our first morning at the cottage, we rose following a delightful night’s sleep on a plush, king-size bed. For breakfast, we tucked into a wide range of delicious local produce provided by the Estate. This included freshly baked sourdough bread from down the road, local honey and preserves made a stone’s throw from the cottage, and delicious dairy products and sausages from a nearby farm. As a food-lover, this breakfast hamper was one of my favourite things about our stay.
After finishing our breakfast, we met up with Graham, Land Officer at the Estate, who took us on a tour of the grounds and told us all about the fascinating history behind the grand and beautiful Brucefield Estate: from the well-known facts to the small details which still remain a mystery – like the numerous carvings and engravings upon buildings.
Possessed by many different hands throughout different historical periods, the estate has certainly played its role in Scottish history. Graham told us that during the medieval era, the estate was part of the Barony of Schenbothy and owned by the Stewarts of Rosyth, supporters of Mary Queen of Scots. He also mentioned that the current owners of Brucefield Estate can trace their own lineage back to Robert the Bruce, King of Scots!
As we wandered around the estate, Graham also pointed out the huge array of wildlife and plants living in the grounds: from roaming deer and hovering birds to 300-year-old trees and rare wildflowers. The estate was also alive with blooming fungi during our visit, which littered the ground beneath our feet.
Brucefield Estate: the perfect escape for cycling enthusiasts
As we returned to Slackbrae, we were keen to continue exploring. So we hopped on some bikes – kindly loaned to us – and continued our adventure. If you like to explore on two wheels, Brucefield Estate is the perfect place, thanks to an old railway track that has been turned into a traffic-free cycling route.
This flat, straight and safe road provides the perfect route to explore neighbouring towns, including Alloa and Dunfermline. There are also safe, quiet roads leading to Devilla Forest, the Wallace Monument or Cambuskenneth Abbey. You’re also within cycling distance of several local farm shops and cafes. We visited Polly’s Pantry in Alloa for a coffee and delicious slice of cake – this recently opened café and farm shop is definitely well worth a visit when staying at Brucefield.
In summary: what to expect from a stay at Brucefield Estate
Nestled among towering trees and roaming wildlife, arriving at this cosy cottage feels like stepping out of the hectic pace of day-to-day life and into a little slice of tranquillity. The inviting interior, combined with the stunning surroundings, truly encourage you to pause and be present. You’re sure to leave feeling relaxed and mindful – and slightly disappointed that you can’t stay forever!
If you’re looking to stay at Brucefield Estate, there are currently two accommodation options available. Slackbrae Cottage, where we stayed, sleeps up to 4 people, plus dogs for an additional fee. This accommodation, which also benefits from WiFi, a TV, radios, and a firepit, is perfect for families or friends who are looking for a getaway filled with both relaxation and adventure. It’s also accessible, as there are no steps. Plus, the wet floor bathroom is equipped with a walk-in shower, pulldown seat and grab rails.
Alternatively, you can stay in one of the brand new eco bothies. These offer adult-only, rural accommodation, set deep within the estate for a true off-the-grid, secluded woodland retreat. These bothies are even Wi-Fi-free – perfect if you’re in need of a social media detox! Plus, the gallery bedroom features a stargazing window above the bed, making these bothies ideal for a romantic getaway. Similar to Slackbrae Cottage, these bothies have been built with the environment in mind, making them perfect for the eco-conscious traveller.
Visit brucefieldeastate.scot for more information and to book your stay.