VOLANTE Stanley Moss seeks a proper retreat, without too-trendy eco-adventure add-ons, and finds two unspoiled, isolated destinations in Eilean Shona in Scotland and Biby Gård in Sweden
Photographed by Paula Sweet
Stanley Moss istravel editor of Lucire.
I need to plan a retreat, but not just any old retreat.
I do not require eco-adventure, a zipline, a hot air balloon, a whitewater raft, an overpriced spa with an unpronounceable name, an infinity pool or a golf course adjacent to a four-star dormitory, courtesy of my favourite overwhelmed travel planner. I’m not interested in visiting hospitals and orphanages, digging irrigation ditches or installing solar panels in the Outback. I don’t want to sit around a campfire singing Kumbaya, or sleep on the hard cold ground in a canvas tent, surrounded by exotic insect life with the roar of carnivores too close for comfort at five-star prices. And I definitely don’t seek a tasteless, faceless cream-coloured box in the middle of nowhere, seasoned with institutional food and shuttle buses to hell.
What I want is a place where all the intrusions of everyday life and consumerism fall away, where the pleasurable sensation of isolation prevails, where unadulterated nature envelops me, a place where an evocative, inspiring spiritual recharge completes the picture. I know of two such places, quite distinct from each other, but beyond the realm of the expected.
Eilean Shona, a verdant and unspoiled island, nestles at the entrance to Loch Moidart on the west coast of Scotland. Far away on the horizon the Isle of Eigg hovers, and to the north the Isle of Skye lingers. Getting there takes some commitment, an hour’s drive from Ft William, through farmland and forests, twisty roads meandering through picturesque villages. Then a private road to Dorlin Pier, where an inflatable boat perhaps piloted by the inestimable Paul awaits you. Much has been written about Shona, and J. S. Barrie’s descriptions of Neverland were drawn from its woods and dells during his retreats there in the 1920s. Once you’ve crossed over, passing Castle Tioram, you set foot on an isle of breathtaking isolation. Since 1995, the island has been owned by the Devereux-Branson family, guardians of its tranquillity, who have upgraded the few structures to a level of natural comfort. Go for the wildness, for the invigorating walks, the lofty view from a neolithic menhir which overlooks the approach to the sea. Get married there, book the entire island for your corporate retreat, escape with your partner for a romantic getaway. Words cannot describe the place, so let the pictures tantalize. The real thing is better than a fairy tale.
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