the duck keepers

SARAH & PHIL of THE LAZY DUCK

Hi Sarah & Phil, please introduce us to ‘The Lazy Duck’ and tell us a bit about what you offer.

The Lazy Duck is a year round eco-holiday destination in the Cairngorms National Park. We have three unique off grid wooden cabins for couples, a bunkhouse for families or small groups and possibly the smallest campsite in the UK. Wild Spa offers include a well being studio, sauna and wood fired hot tub, plus hammocks for every area. Forest bathing is a special part of our experience.

Our site is home to a dozen hens and around 30 rare breed ducks, from lolloping Aylesburys to cheeky Goldeneyes. They are a big part of the Lazy Duck experience for our guests, young and old. With squirrel feeders at every cabin and scattered around the site, Red Squirrels are regular visitors, with a breakfast guest at The Duck’s Nest and Homestead that you can set your watch by.

The Lazy Duck
The Lazy Duck
photo by Travel Two
The Lazy Duck
photo by Alyson Stewart

Can you take us back to where it all started and how you have developed over time?

David and Valery Dean ‘The Originals’ started Lazy Duck back in 1999. Our website contains their ‘small is beautiful’ statement. It was their intention to create: “space for elemental living, personal reflection and a ‘recharging of batteries’. Since 1974 we have had the idea that this place (Lazy Duck) is one to be shared with others four seasons round. This is how we have chosen to do it.”

We (Sarah & Phil) are recently returned diaspora having lived and worked in Transition town Totnes, Devon. A chance meeting eight years ago in London after 16 apart led to rekindled romance and a new life together; becoming a blended family of five with Sarah’s daughter Daisy now 19, Phil’s son Ben, 17 and daughter Aimee, 16. Our plan of returning to Scotland first began six years ago. Our thoughts were of a connected, simpler, self-sufficient life; making our living from the combination of skills gathered along the way and doing what truly fills us with joy every day.

The Lazy Duck at night
photo by Jack Boothby

We began to dream of an off-grid retreat centre offering holiday experiences that would nourish both guests and host staff, allowing us all to slow down and embrace the power of being in nature. We would combine the luxury of therapy sessions with unique off grid accommodation. And there had to be a hot tub. We gathered inspiration from our adventures in Cornwall and beyond, staying in a wide variety of accommodation from the serene luxury of Scarlet Hotel to Loch Ossian Hostel with its breath-taking setting and inspirational self-sufficiency. We visited sites in the Borders and Argyll & Bute with Kilmichael Glen almost but not quite becoming our plot to build on. In April 2019 The Lazy Duck lease offer popped onto our morning search list and by August, a lease was signed for Sarah and Phil to become the new duckeepers in Nethybridge. Our homecoming.

Since taking on the lease at Lazy Duck, a strong friendship has struck up between The Originals and us, founded in the symmetry of our passions, beliefs and motivations.

photo by Alyson Stewart
photo by Alyson Stewart

Where did the name ‘The Lazy Duck’ come from?

The Aylesbury Duck (think Jemima Puddleduck) is featured in our logo, originally drawn by David and Valery’s daughter Polly. The Aylesbury doesn’t hurry for anything or anyone and epitomises the spirit of our intended hospitality; the provision of a space for slow living.

Over time ‘Come Home To Slow Living’ has expressed everything that The Originals and we value; that we continue striving to provide to all our guests.

hot tub
photo by Travel Two
the lazy duck

You offer various options of accommodation, can you tell us about them and tell us about the ethos that they all share?

The Homestead (sleeps 2):
Quirky luxury off grid accommodation for two at the heart of The Lazy Duck. An idyllic home from home in our meadow. Soak up the morning sun from the veranda, feeding the neighbours, a flock of hens who cluck and scratch for your attention. This is our dog friendly accommodation.

The Lookout (sleeps 5):
Right at the heart of the action beside the campsite providing an ideal accommodation for family or friends. The Lookout is an indoors/outdoors spacious bunkhouse, with exposed pine beams and bespoke Elm furnishing. It is a fun space where children (and grown ups …) can run free then clamber into bed at night.

Camp Site (4 pitches for up to three-man tents):
A uniquely intimate and serene space for lightweight campers. Generous pitches, communal campers shelter, picnic benches and chimenea all help create friendly cosy spaces to gather and share your day’s adventures or laze in hammocks gazing up the mature Scots Pine trees planning the next day’s activity.

The Ducks Nest (sleeps 2):
Embraced by the forest and on the bank of our duck pond: The Duck’s Nest is a two person waterside eco lodge. This luxury hide offers wildlife photography opportunities and waterfowl viewing at all times of the year.

The Woodmans Hut (sleeps 2):
Nestled in centuries-old Scots Pine Forest, the Award Winning Woodman’s Hut is a romantic hideaway entirely crafted from its surroundings. Luxurious and laid back, this fully off grid retreat is for couples who want to relax, recharge and reconnect.

red squirrel
photo by Alyson Stewart

You have added a ‘Well being studio’ for your guests, tell us about this and the services that you offer

The Lazy Duck well-being studio is a cosy wooden cabin set on the edge of our forest.
With its amazing views and wood burner, this space evokes calm; a place to unwind and let go. Sarah is a fully qualified Yoga practitioners and Massage Therapist with experience in Swedish and Acupressure techniques. We are working towards creating our own retreats and are exploring opportunities to collaborate with other practitioners.

chickens

You are located off the grid, which is perfect for people looking to escape, can you tell us about your location?

Our site is a six-acre mix of ancient pine forest and clearing; far enough from civilisation but a 20-minute walk from the centre of Nethybridge. Our cabins range from The Woodmans that is completely off grid to The Homestead with electricity and WiFi. Composting Loos, rainwater collection and bush showers are offered in all our accommodation as delightful ecological utilities.

We compost and recycle everything we can, creating a closed loop ecology of all our organic waste. Our 100% renewable electricity is supplied by Bulb and we remain actively curious as to how we can reduce our waste and power requirements; how we can live lighter on the land.

photo by The Caryls

What would you recommend doing to people coming to stay with you?

Slow down. Really slow down. Choose maybe a handful of things to do and enjoy them well, in good company. Guests almost exclusively come to enjoy the elemental outdoors, each other and slow time so the message is well received. Our website Explore page contains up to date information on activities and their providers, from the famous highland games in the summer to winter snow sports on the Cairngorms Mountain and Lecht.

We are blessed by the number of couples who choose Lazy Duck as their elopement destination with small, wild locations increasingly being chosen for a romantic getaway. Our cabins are all perfect for this intimate event with the Poet’s Seat on open moorland a favourite spot to tie the knot.

When we are asked or can, we offer advice on how to enjoy time with us in the National Park. One example is cycling over the Ryvoan Pass on a sublime loop back home to Lazy Duck. Another is a short loop over the moor, down the Lettoch Road and back to a cozy stove, pot of tea and game of Back Gammon.

cairngorms

You like to promote your local communities and businesses, please share some of your favourites with us.

There are so many excellent businesses in our local area it is hard to choose which to mention. We have a number of partnerships; the Balliefurth Farm Shop and Achnahannet Farm Shop providing breakfast hamper produce. The Nethy House Café is a regular spot for lunch or coffee and Andersons restaurant in Boat of Garten is a favourite evening destination. Our explore page contains a full list of all the excellent businesses in the area from local bike hire from Basecamp in Grantown on Spey or Ride in Boat of Garten to Jimmy Carter’s mobile fish & chips.

Loch Garten

“Come home to slow living” is your tagline, can you share your tips on the best ways to incorporate slow travel into future trips?

We have a special welcome for guest arriving by public transport or by bicycle, recognising that their slow living has already started. The sleeper train is an opportunity for a family or small group to connect and begin their adventure the minute they start their journey …… time away, time out, time together

We would recommend that guests decide on maybe one or two experiences with a few back up plans, definitely keeping some time for lazily swinging in a hammock and dreamily staring up the tall trunks, through branches to the sky. Or booking into our wood fired hot tub on a starlit night.

lazy hammocks
photo by Jack Boothby

For anyone looking to book a future trip with you, please include the best way to make a booking below

Our website is the only method of booking: www.lazyduck.co.uk but potential guests are always welcome to call on +44 7846 291154 to discuss and we are more than happy to process the booking on their behalf if that is preferred.

WHERE CAN WE BOOK?

The Lazy Duck

The Lazy Duck

Visit our website for more information here  
Follow us on Instagram & Facebook

Elopement wedding photo above taken by The Caryls, view more of the photos from this wedding here.

the duck keepers
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