Review of The Rumblie, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
The Rumblie is in the heart of the Cairngorms and feels like home-from-home, with its vibrant garden, a well-stocked bar and plenty of local knowledge.
>> For availability and booking, see our full listing for The Rumblie.
The Rumblie is located in the small Highland village of Laggan, very near Loch Laggan, surrounded by the riches that the Cairngorms National Park has to offer.
I would recommend getting there by rail rather than road as Scotrail offers wonderful views through their panoramic windows and the railway line takes a more scenic route through Perthshire and the Cairngorms than the road does. Depending on the time of year you visit you’ll be treated to a very varied landscape of mixed deciduous and evergreen forest, pasture, lochs, mountains, moorland and crops of bright yellow oilseed rape.
I was met at Newtonmore station by the owner Simon and was delighted to find myself travelling for the first time in a part-electric, part-petrol car. Our destination was Gergask, 7 miles away, a hamlet within the parish of Laggan. You’ll have an idea of how peaceful it is when I tell you that Gergask is one of 12 hamlets in Laggan but the total population for the entire parish is 260 people. This is Monarch of the Glen country – filmed on nearby Loch Laggan – from which The Rumblie has gleaned a great deal of memorabilia, on display throughout the house.
There are two twin rooms and one double and all of them have ensuite bathrooms. Every room, named after a local landmark, is spacious yet snug with a cosy feel about it. They all have DVD players for a night in after a long day’s walk, books to borrow and comfortable beds to retire to. Peace abounds here, as I was told that it’s only the lowing cows that are the noisy beast of the wilderness (of which there are none in close proximity to the house) and the very tame chickens in the garden are seen but rarely heard.
Husband and wife team: Simon and Fiona, have a system – she sows, he harvests, she cooks, he composts. They grow a range of fruit and vegetables in their garden and source the rest of their food from Macleod Organics and award-winning local butcher George Gow of Kingussie. Their breakfast and dinner menus use seasonal ingredients where possible, and evening meals can be two or three course. Fiona can cater for gluten and dairy-free diets, as well as vegetarians and vegans. Her specialities are crowdie cheese and salmon or trout pate, stuffed chicken thighs wrapped in parma ham, and rhubarb and custard crumble.
Fiona also offers pack lunches, with sandwiches and cake. And they have a small shop so you can stock up on drinks and snacks, as well as insect sprays and suncream, before a day out. Their teas, coffees, sugar, bananas, orange juice and chocolate are all Fairtrade.
They also have a licensed bar in the living room, a drink from which can be enjoyed by the wood-burning stove over one of their board games or a book.
Honestly, where to start? Most visitors come for the walking, to explore the not-long-established East Highland Way and or to ‘bag’ a Munro. But you can also horse ride, learn how to mountain bike and go on guided rides, go wild on quad bikes, enjoy one of the 18 way-marked local walks, go fishing or bird watching, visit a nearby whisky distillery or see how Highlanders used to live in the Highland Folk Museum, which is free to visit. And in the absence of public transport in the area, The Rumblie offers to ferry you to and from a number of places, depending on what you choose to do, at no extra charge. When you make a booking, make sure to mention the activities you're interested in and Simon or Fiona will organise everything for you.
I would suggest a visit to coincide with the Macpherson Clan’s annual gathering in August in nearby Kingussie. The Macphersons, literally: ‘Son of the Parson’ in Gaellic, gather each year against a backdrop of pipe bands, processions and much merriment.
If you want to wait to decide how to spend your days in the Cairngorms once you arrive, you’ll have a wall of leaflets at your disposal offering information on possible events, walking routes, activities and tours.
If you fancy a relaxed evening in, having removed your mud-laden boots on the old church pew by the front door, then Simon offers whisky tastings (for between £10 and £20 depending on how expensive your taste is). He has a Certificate of Expertise in Scotch Whisky and has turned his hand to craft a splendid bar in the living room using whisky barrels. Simon can answer pretty much any question you might have about the area’s history or geography.
Wifi is provided in the living room along with a laptop for guests to use; they also have a printer for those requiring boarding passes – they’ve thought of everything!
In 2012 The Rumblie was shortlisted by the Green Tourism Business Scheme Goldstar Awards. For anyone who is interested, they have a ‘Rumblie Green File’ detailing everything they are doing to reduce their environmental impact. It’s neatly categorised so you can skip to your area of interest, be it energy, waste, food etc.
The Rumblie has a biomass generator for all their hot water and heating; the wood used to power it comes from mixed sustainable sources. Tours of the inside the generator are enthusiastically proffered, where you will find a very handy wall display of how it all works. It generates enough pressure that the showers, for example, are not electrically pumped.
20 photo-voltaic solar panels were installed on the roof in November 2011, generating around one-third of their electricity needs. About 50% of their lights are low-energy LED, and the rest are energy-efficient compact fluorescents or T5 strip lighting. Their white goods are among the higher bands of energy efficiency and each room has an Eco Kettle, which allows you to only boil the water you need.
The bathrooms in particular are exemplary. There are refillable shampoo and shower gel dispensers (thereby reducing packaging waste) and the products they use are either the Bee Kind range, which supports honey bee and sustainable pollination research, or from the local organic range The Highland Soap Company. The bathroom tiles are made from reconstituted materials, the basin sits atop a stand made from bamboo – a more renewable source than wood – and the loo paper is made from recycled paper (of course) and the bin liners are compostable. They also have a compost heap in their garden for all their food waste and the garden paths are paved with chopped waste tyre pieces that look not dissimilar to wood chips, but are really spongy to walk on. Try them out!
The Rumblie is also trying to reduce the amount of residual waste it generates. For example they try to buy liquids in glass packaging rather than tetrapak because their waste contractor balks at recycling the latter.
The loos, shower and taps are all designed to minimize water consumption. The showers are ‘aerated’, meaning they use air to keep the flow at a high pressure rather than more water; the taps have a maximum water flow of eight litres per minute; any faster and it’ll splash you, any slower and it might not do the job.
How to get here by public transport
To get to The Rumblie by public transport, you can take the train to any one of three stations: Dalwhinnie (6 miles away), Newtonmore (7 miles) or Kingussie (12 miles). There are direct services from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, and even London. You can also catch the coach (check out Scottish City Link) that stops in Kingussie and Newtonmore. There are no local bus services but by prior arrangement Fiona or Simon can pick you up (and drop you back) or taxis can be booked ahead (there are no ranks at the stations) via Kingussie Taxis.
Guests to The Rumbie arrive by a number of means, including canoe, paraglide (although that was only once, and admittedly not a planned landing), horseback, bike and on foot. To encourage guests to arrive via the East Highland Way (a mere 40 yards from their front door), The Rumblie has signed up to a scheme whereby if walkers book accommodation through a walking company (for example Contours Walking Holidays), they pay £40 pp/pn instead of £45.
Come for at least three days and take advantage of your hosts’ local knowledge. Enjoy at least one evening by the bar in the living room, sampling some local whiskies, and be sure to get your photograph taken with the Blue Bear, (featured in the Monarch of the Glen), and make your friends jealous!
The Rumblie is an ideal destination for individuals or small groups who enjoy exploring loch and forest terrain on foot, wheel or hoof, who want to unwind from busy lives in a great deal of comfort, and for those interested in learning about the local area.
>> For availability and booking, see our full listing for The Rumblie.