The owners’ suggestion that you bring a torch with you to Ecocamp Glenshee car park is a good indication of what lies ahead. This is not a town-side campsite with corridors of well-lit tarmac and enough caravans to house a small army. Instead, Glenshee opens up before you into a gargantuan grassy space that at night is bathed beneath a sea of twinkling stars only rural Scotland can boast the likes of.
Having popped your head into the home of welcoming owners Fiona and Simon to say hello and check in, you can fully survey the scene before you. To one side a stone bothy awaits any items you don’t want in your tent – inside there is a fridge-freezer, a sink with hot water, all the cooking utensils you need and space to securely store your bikes – while, beyond, the campsite is peppered with the varied colours of pre-pitched accommodation.
In the bottom of the glen sit a pair of green shepherd’s huts, at the far end there’s a collection of pods and, in between, there’s a hilltop family tent with smoke wafting from its chimney. Two more colourful bell tents, striped in purple and blue, are also set amid mown patches of grass. Together it sounds like an awful lot of options, yet they are all set so widely apart that the field still offers acres of open space in between. Children run about by day and at night campfires crackle outside every structure, the starlight picking out the hills that create the valley walls.
It’s no accident that there’s so much space. These things aren’t unintentional. All that extra breathing room has allowed Simon and Fiona to plant young trees – a small part of their eco-friendly ethos that spreads across the site. Along with locally-sourced building materials, solar-powered lighting and a good recycling policy, the eco-attitude also reaps the benefit of excellent food for campers, with eggs fresh from the campsite chickens and meat from surrounding farms that are sure to fuel you up for an outdoor day ahead.
You needn’t burn too many air-miles to enjoy the surroundings either. From the campsite you can enjoy trekking with Simon and Fiona's llamas or take a map and follow one of their well-organised geo-caching routes. Right on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, it's a well-located spot for hopping straight onto nearby footpaths and also boasts heaps of outdoor activities in the vicinity. Hiking and mountain-biking are particularly popular, with some of the UK's most challenging trails on offer to those with two wheels. When you return you are guaranteed the warmth of a hot shower and the cosy bothy to relax in too. It's the simple pleasures that make it so worthwhile.