The Lazy Duck campsite is well named. Its resident Aylesbury Ducks are so relaxed that the site owners David and Valery once had to bring in nanny ducks as the Aylesburys were too lazy to bother hatching their own eggs. The site seems to have an equally soporific effect on campers, and new arrivals soon slip into a similarly relaxed state here, as doing very little becomes the main aim of the day.
To call the Lazy Duck a campsite is perhaps a little misleading. It’s more a chilled forest clearing, blessed with a sauna, wood-fired hot tub, and a bush shower, where swings and hammocks dangle from the tall trees and man and duck idle side by side. It just happens to have plenty of room for four very lucky tents and their (maximum of three) inhabitants. With typical unassuming attention to detail, David and Valery and their team ask you to move on every three days to another spot to save the grass. Welcome new comforts include the Campers’ Shelter, where you can relax by a chimenea in the evening and meet your fellow lotus-eaters. Other welcome include the eight-bed hut hostel; the Woodman’s Hut, a seriously romantic eco log cabin-style getaway for two; the Duck's Nest, an enviable couple's retreat on the waterside; and the Lambing Bothy, which stands alone among the nuzzling Soay sheep and free range hens.
The larch-built, wood-fired sauna is not just an afterthought, either, with a small chill-out area by the sauna room where you can light a candle, burn a little essential oil and listen to the collection of ambient CDs. The views, both here and all around the site, are sublime, with the heather moorland and patches of Caledonian forest stretching out in front, while the peaks of the Cairngorms National Park lurk to the rear.
Once you've managed to rouse yourself from this wanton relaxation – no mean task here – then even setting out on a walk requires little effort, as the Speyside Way, one of Scotland’s designated network of marked long-distance trails, passes nearby. The area is also very popular with mountain bikers and you can cycle on the Speyside Way itself, around the Abernethy Forest or the Rothiemurchus Estate. The forest and estate are both highly regarded, with a variety of terrains from smooth forest roads to tough muddy single tracks through the thick trees. In winter there are ski slopes nearby; the Deans advise 'hutters' (there's no camping from November to May) to bring their own toboggan if they fancy a spot of sledging.
Back at the campsite, one of the simple pleasures is just watching the eponymous ducks amble through their day. They are joined in the ponds and Fhuarain Burn by myriad other birdlife including mandarin, widgeon, goldeneye and whistling ducks. Red squirrel, roe and red deer, and the odd capercaillie can be spotted within the surrounding forest.
If you want to shun the laidback ways of the Aylesburys, you can also tackle the Spey in a canoe or kayak, or just sample some of its famous produce on a choice of distillery tours – this is serious whisky country. After a few drams, a swing in a hammock is the perfect recreation at a site where relaxation is practically mandatory. Just ask those ducks.
Campfires enouraged (in chimeneas). Wet weather cooking facilities. Sauna and wood-fired hot tub normally available for a nominal charge. Hammocks and swings. Toilet, bush shower and washbasin by the camping area. Hot and cold water, washing-up space, a robust ‘bush shower’ all the way from ‘down under’ that’s proving hugely popular with campers. Free-range eggs when available plus veggies and bags of salad. A communal area with a chimenea. Long swing.
Tents (maximum 3 people) – yes. Caravans, campervans, dogs, big groups, young groups – no.
Of many distillery tours our favourite is Aberlour (01340 881249), which is open for visits every day between April and October (otherwise Monday–Friday). The site is within the Cairngorms National Park (01479 873535), which has numerous outdoor activities on offer plus the Cairngorm Mountain Railway (01479 861261). The area is also home to the wonderful Cairngorm Reindeer Centre (01479 861228), where under the supervision of trained staff, you can feed, stroke and walk amongst these friendly animals. Situated in the centre of the Cairngorm National Park, visitors follow the herder up to the mountain enclosure, where beautiful mountain views can also be enjoyed. Ornithologists will enjoy the nearby Loch Garten (01767 680551), with its resident ospreys. The resort town of Aviemore is close by and also has plenty of wet weather options, shops, cafés and a swimming pool. Ace Adventure (0330 555 0313) are a specialist White water rafting and outdoor activities provider, based near Aviemore. Jim and the team cater for a wide range of activities; from high adrenaline thrills to relaxed wilderness and wildlife experiences.
Food & DrinkA fishmonger visits on Wednesdays, and nearby Nethy Bridge has a hotel bar, fine dining hotel, post office and store and the superb Balliefurth Farm Shop (01479 821245). The Old Bridge Inn (01479 811137), on the edge of Aviemore, serves local Moray fish and Speyside steaks. Elsewhere, the daytime only Druie Restaurant Café in Rothiemurchus (01479 810005) has sandwiche and cake options as does the beautifully rustic café-cum-bird-hide at Inshriach Nursery (01540 651287).
Opening TimesCamping from May–October. Lambing Bothy, Woodman’s Hut, Duck’s Nest and 8-bed hut hostel open all year.
Family FriendlyBreathe, unwind, relax. This is the perfect place to introduce your kids to the pleasures of laziness.
The Owner Says
4 pitches for lightweight/expedition tents up to maximum 3 person
No availability showing at Lazy Duck.
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