It’s happened, I’ve become a proper city girl. While I love the outdoors and would jump in a kayak or climb a hill at any given moment; I’m also devilishly glued to my phone and an expert at jaywalking and dodging traffic. The last time I pulled out my walking shoes was for a music festival, and I haven’t been up north in years. What happened to the girl who loved jumping rocks in the Trossachs and watching eagles through binoculars in the Highlands?
I wanted to get off-grid and find somewhere I could see the stars. Cue Hassan, my friend who is up for anything. We found a remote bothy for Halloween weekend which is the definition of Hygge and is where I discovered agritoursim (sometimes agrotourism). Owned by Jane and James, Barley Bothy is a converted chicken shed in Aberdeenshire. They built it on a small corner of their farm where they grow barley for malting whisky, hence the name. It has two massive cupboard beds with stargazing windows, a roll-top bath and a cosy wood-burning stove. We even had to cook with a log fire! The best bit – autumn colours and never-ending rolling fields.
That weekend we watched horror movies by the fire, stargazed in the evenings and explored a spooky castle during the daytime. The only trick-or-treater was the donkey in the nearby field! Hassan was unlucky enough to still get a signal and 4G; I on the other hand was completely off-grid and out of touch with everything. Back in Edinburgh, Josh, who had forgotten I was away, got worried because it looked like I hadn’t been active in one day. How’s that for a horror story? Which reminds me; we watched the final episode of Black Mirror in between The Conjuring movies. A-m-a-z-i-n-g.
Huntly Castle was a find! After sitting in the car park for fifteen minutes with a sore stomach and mulling over whether to even go inside, we eventually wandered up the tree-lined driveway and explored this maze of a ruin. I loved how untouched it seemed – it left almost everything to the imagination with just a few pieces of text here and there to prompt you.
Inside Huntly, the main spiral staircase was still intact. I shotgunned the tower room at the very top as mine, Hassan could have the one below! The dungeon was the creepiest, and utterly freezing; but I loved the dining hall where they held all their parties. It’s well worth a visit and a ticket costs £5.50.
Back at the Bothy, we cooked a wood-fired pizza and played an emoji card game (it was a card game, no phones needed!). Then we watched The Conjuring 2 which left me on edge for the rest of the night – the perfect horror movie! I honestly did not want to leave, Jane had even left homemade bread and jam for us – plus a kettle of hot water heating on top of the stove. It was the best way to spend Halloween.
Most importantly, we had crazy stupid fun! Hassan made a vlog mostly featuring him and shots of me running away from the camera. And there’s an epic fruit scene…watch it!