Mill of Dess Lodge, Lower Dess Estate

Mill of Dess Lodge, where Country meets Luxury

The Mill of Dess Lodge is a welcoming abode for reasons aplenty. The converted steading resides in  the 428-acre Lower Dess Estate, 30 miles West of Aberdeen in the very romantic Royal Deeside. This is where Aberdeenshire erupts into spontaneous mountains, forests and roaring rivers, leaving its coastal glory behind. Deeside is still very much a hidden gem with many a tourist unaware of the abundance of castles, activities and wondrous walks. The area even attracts Her Majesty the Queen who spends every Summer basking in the beautiful Balmoral Castle. If it’s good enough for Royalty, it is good enough for you.

Lower Dess Estate is renowned for its fruitful Salmon fishing as there is a 2.25 mile beat on the rapids of the River Dee. As you can probably imagine, we weren’t there on a fishing trip. Nope, we were there for ‘salmon’ else…

Aberdeenshire Escapades

As soon as we escaped Aberdeen, we were glad to be leaving the hustle and bustle of the city centre behind, excited about what lay ahead. Scotts stomach rumbled with a sense of urgency whilst he questioned what was on the evenings menu. I ogled at the scenery out of the car window, questioning a potential move to the area. This has become quite a common occurrence. Travel blogging has definitely brought with it a pair of very itchy feet. Scott and I discuss where we would like to ‘have a house’ nearly every time we take a trip. If things continue like this, we will have some property profile in the next few years…

On the road from Aberdeen to Lower Dess, is the pretty in pink Craigievar Castle. Craigievar is supposedly haunted by a member of the Gordon family who fell out of a window to his death at swords’ point. Spooky.

Mill of Darling Dess

We received a very warm welcome from Anna, the Lodge manager who offered to assist us with our luggage whilst we made ourselves familiar with our evenings surroundings. It wasn’t long before I clocked the elegant décor, stopping to admire the chandeliers which have been fashioned from Stag Antlers. First impressions are key. The interior was immaculate and incredibly attractive.

The converted steading comprises of two wings, North and South. There is also a large, traditional dining-room and a separate, spacious drawing room complete with wood-burning stove for those chillier nights. It was evident that Anna was very proud of the lodge as she showed us around with graceful enthusiasm, before continuing on to the sleeping quarters.

The Jock Rae Suite

All of the bedrooms in the Mill of Dess Lodge are named after specific pools on the fishing beat. Our accommodation was named ‘Jock Rae’ which we were told is one of the best fishing pools. The room was welcoming, comfortable and luxurious and decorated neutrally with splashes of burnt orange. The bonnie bedroom consisted of a super-king bed, 2 built-in wardrobes (one of which contained a safe), a separate sitting area and an en-suite bathroom.

The sitting area has two plush armchairs with a little table containing an array of teas, coffees, biscuits and bottles of Deeside Water. Scott and I made good use of the biscuit jar when we eventually settled down for the evening. Although Scott did try and sneak a few in before his dinner.

Each room in the Mill of Dess Lodge has Sky TV, Wi-Fi and a hair-dryer. The en-suite contains a bath and separate walk-in shower. There are complimentary bathroom products from the Scottish Fine Soaps Company and two white, fluffy robes.

I do like to be Beside the Deeside, I do like to be beside the Dee

It isn’t often that Scott and I stay out in Royal Deeside although we are hoping to make more of a habit of this (if Scott takes the hint). For this reason, we couldn’t wait to get outside and explore the estate before the sun began to set. So off we jollied through the fields, down towards the beautiful River Dee. It was getting a bit late for the fishermen to be out and about. One land rover did pass us, packed full of cheery-looking fellas. Either they were catching more fish than Jaws or they were happy to be vacating the wintery chill. Other than a few chuffed-looking fishermen, there was nobody around for miles and both of us felt very humbled.

We wandered along the river bank, crossing quirky little bridges before we made it down to the Mill of Dess Cottage. Unfortunately the cottage was being rented during our stay so we could only really creep around the building like weirdos. The cottage is aesthetically pleasing, boasting a restored mill which is a nod to the estates past. There is a picnic bench outside the front of the cottage which looks over the Dee. The perfect place for a picnic on a summery day.

I couldn’t help but feel that this cosy little cottage along with the beautiful lodge and estate could be the perfect place for a couples retreat. The whole area is very romantic.

Dream Cuisine

We found ourselves wandering for hours as we enjoyed the peaceful babble of the River Dee. Had it have been summer, I could of stayed out there late into the evening. Unfortunately it was not and as the sun began to set, Scotts stomach escalated from a low grumble to a tremendous roar. So we made our way back to the lodge where we were greeted by the welcomed warmth.

Dinner at Mill of Dess Lodge is served in the dining-room at a large table which seats 20 at full capacity. During our stay we were catered for to the highest standard. Our starter was haggis, neeps and tatties doused in a whisky and chive sauce.

This was probably the best looking haggis, neeps and tatties I have ever seen with presentation second to none. Main course was venison, celeriac mash, crispy potatoes and veggies, drizzled with a red wine and blueberry sauce.

I was a little dubious of the venison as my previous experience had been less than invigorating. However I was quite blown away by the gorgeous game. The catering alone would of convinced me to return, everything else was just a blessed bonus.

A cheese board with sweet grapes arrived after our main which we had absolutely no problem with. I surprised myself by the amount I was able to consume. It seems that when the surroundings and company are up to standard, the food is stored away effortlessly.

A Winter Nights Dream

After eating the lodge out of house and home (or thereabouts), we waddled through to the fire-lit lounge to allow our food to digest.

The glorious evening meal combined with the refreshing country air had us practically falling through to our bedroom where we spent the rest of the night lazing in-front of the TV with tea and biscuits. Perfection.

Morning Story

We woke up in the morning to an array of breakfast options including cereal, yoghurt, fruit, toast and a cooked breakfast. It turns out that one evening in Mill of Dess Lodge can throw a New Years diet to the wind. We enjoyed our final moments in the lodge as we sat in the grand dining-room enjoying the marvellous catering. I made sure Scott enjoyed every last minute as I knew it was going to be a good while before he was catered for again.

After breakfast, we were treated to a tour of the estate with Eoin the ghillie who was very helpful and incredibly friendly. He spoke of the estates highlights whilst stopping often for our numerous photo opportunities. One of which is the unique fishing hut where Scottish design meets Scandinavia in a designers match made in heaven.

Lower Dess Estate

We absolutely loved staying at the Mill of Dess Lodge. This really is top-end accommodation at a very reasonable price. We were very well looked after and left feeling refreshed and relaxed. The Lodge Manager Anna is an absolute credit to the Estate.

Although we visited during Winter, the scenery was beautiful and we are very much looking forward to returning in the Summer to see a whole other side to Lower Dess Estate. With activities, attractions and beautiful scenery only a stones throw away, Mill of Dess Lodge is the perfect escape. We would like to thank Anna and Eoin for making our trip memorable and relaxing. Also, Anna should be a Masterchef finalist, that venison was out of this world. Book your stay here



The Chief.