“There is no air fresher than Scotland,” an acquaintance remarked to me when I told them of my upcoming visit to Gleneagles, and it was on a morning walk — alongside Mr. Head of Adventure himself, Yuri Janssen — that I found myself recalling these words and taking heavy, deep inhales as the wind swept over the hills. The air was pure. It was uplifting. It was restorative.
Living in New York City, periods of time like this are essential for maintaining one’s sanity, and serve as a proverbial “happy place” where, with our fond memories, we can mentally transport ourselves as we sweat on the subway platform or trod through slushy intersections while we’re honked at by yellow cabs.
Walking in the dewy morning with Yuri was one of many “happy places” I can recall, and possibly the leading highlight of my visit. Yes, the scenery is stunning, but Janssen comes armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of most corners of the world, including the African bush where he spent 18 years as a safari guide, photographer and filmmaker. During our walk, as we looked out onto the verdant hillside, he regaled us with death-defying tales of mechanical failure in crocodile infested waters and encounters with angry elephants until we happened upon two otherworldly orbs. Here, my walking mates and I were treated to a beautiful lunch, as well as the company of a few of the hotel’s falconry family, including Golden Eagles and Harris Hawks.