AS a herd of nocturnal young bucks jutted and juked in the pitch dark outside, two clapped-out veterans of comparable male bonding ceremonies could be found cowering indoors.

Unlike our frisky new neighbours, my friend Bennie and I were no longer in our bushy-tailed prime and despite several impermeable feet of the finest Canadian redwood separating us from the Inverness-shire wilderness, a single knock at the door at our plush Eagle Brae lodge had paralysed us with paranoia. 

Should we venture downstairs and answer this irate midnight visitor? Peek behind the curtains to assess their physical prowess and then calibrate our response? Neither option really appealed. 

And then, again, a single thunderous BANG. Bennie’s eyes grew as wide and white as the full moon outside. 

In response, I reached for respite where it has been found since primordial apes boiled the first potato skins in lava streams - fermented ethanol. Namely, the courtesy Rock Rose gin that had been left in our generous welcoming basket by owners Mike and Pawana Spencer-Nairn. A quick gulp immediately sharpened my thoughts.

“Why would someone who is raging just wallop the door with a single chap?”, I mused, feeling like Sherlock Holmes but reeking like Columbo. “You’d be rattling it. Bang-bang-bang-bang-bang. One hard chap shows a lot of restraint. Who knocks a door with a single almightly chap? He’s either a psychopath or it’s something else.” 

This summation did little to calm Bennie’s resolve – understandably, given its stark and open-ended conclusion. It was clearly up to me to make a decision on the matter. 

I slowly eased myself from the womb-like embrace of the luxurious leather couch and stood up. Then my knees cracked and I sat back down. “Let’s just ignore it.” 

Bennie nodded in acquiescence and we proceeded to turn up the volume on the retro 1980s music channel on the huge TV. Erasure’s Blue Savannah video was playing. The one where a disembodied blue surgical glove floats around the sky, picking people at random to touch and infect with depression. “Maybe that glove is at the door,” I suggested.

Bennie didn’t much fancy the thought of that, and later admitted to avoid going downstairs he’d had held in a pee for several hours until the internal pressure was no longer physically tenable.

What this emasculating and deeply embarrassing incident made clear is that arriving at your destination in the dark is never ideal. 

Especially when – as the sun’s morning rays revealed – Eagle Brae is the type of idyllic natural haven that requires one’s full bearings to fully comprehend its aching isolated beauty. This vast wondrous wilderness was undeniably hospitable and welcoming in the daytime. 

Even the abundance of deer that gallop, rut and indiscriminately defecate in the birch forest cradling this secret sanctuary seem like magical Disneyfied versions of themselves as they wander up to the porch and allow themselves to be petted. 

And that’s the true attraction of Eagle Brae’s 8,000 acres – the abundance of wildlife surrounding these 10 luxurious lodges puts guests inside their very own David Attenborough documentary, or Pixar movie if you’re one for anthropomorphising when intoxicated. 

Yet, when you’re this deep in Inverness-shire, there’s really little need for fantasy – there’s so much real wonder afoot. A short drive away lies the majestic Glen Affric, often heralded as one of Scotland’s most beautiful natural sights. 

Here, visitors can also embark on hiking trails that meander through ancient Caledonian pine forests, alongside sparkling lochs and tumbling waterfalls. Glen Strathfarrar, equally close, provides a more secluded hiking experience with opportunities for wildlife spotting, including golden eagles and red squirrels.

For water enthusiasts there is, of course, nearby Loch Ness. And whether you choose to paddle a kayak across its depths or embark on a boat tour with the dubious aim of catching a glimpse of Nessie, the loch’s mysterious allure remains irresistible to Scots and gullible foreigners alike.

Anglers can also try their luck with trout fishing in local rivers and lochs, with Eagle Brae able to supply permits the dedicated local hotspots.

As Scots, we are never far away from remote coastal cottages or country crofts, luxury hotels, homely B&Bs or sprawling city apartments, yet what differentiates Eagle Brae are truly some of the most magnificent log cabins the country has to offer – 10 pioneer-style lodges, each named after a local bird of prey.

Although you’d need to be familiar with Latin to know this – or just read the brochure like I did.

Initial impressions suggest this wonderfully isolated experience pays little heed to modernity, yet these cabins subtly host most modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi, satellite TV, and even a small office area with PC and printer. 

Despite these concessions to hectic 21st-century lifestyles, owners Mike Spencer-Nairn and his wife Pawana certainly had an earthy vision in mind when constructing these magnificently embellished cabins. Each is a work of art in its own way.

All 10 – with new ones in the planning stages – have been hand-built from giant western red cedar logs shipped in from British Columbia. Known as the “Tree of Life” to Native Americans, red cedar was handpicked for its insulation qualities and strong durability.

Each individual log was painstakingly carved, fitted, and tagged by hand before being shipped and then reassembled on-site at Eagle Brae – which itself is located on a remote, tranquil hillside between Glen Affric and Glen Strathfarrar.

The strenuous effort was worth it, however, for these spacious, opulent cabins offer an authentic yet opulently surreal lodge experience as the walls are brought to vivid life with intricate carvings and decorations echoing co-owner Pawana’s heritage. The carbon-neutral lodges, powered by hydro energy and fresh spring water, seamlessly blend rustic charm with environmental sustainability.

The story of Eagle Brae’s origin is as enchanting as the lodges themselves. Mike and Pawana envisioned a retreat that harmonised with the natural environment while offering five-star home comforts. 

Their dedication to sustainable practices is evident throughout the site and from the use of renewable energy sources to the careful selection of building materials, every detail reflects a commitment to environmental stewardship and guests certainly gets a considerable amount of bang for their buck. 

And talking of bangs, with the morning light emboldening us, Bennie and I finally ventured outdoors following that perturbing single thud on the door – and the cause of the disturbance became immediately clear.

Instead of some weird “single knocker” psychopath taking umbrage with our taste in music, we found two small dead birds lying on the porch.

Even our limited detective skills could gauge that these poor creatures  – which I’m assured by Bennie were Blue Tits – had gone kamikaze and flown directly into the door’s windows, with their death thuds echoing thunderously around the wooden cabin. 

Although I imagine it’s difficult for birds to detect windows in the dark, perhaps we’ll never know if there were darker forces other than the allure of 80s synth pop that drove these two beautiful creatures towards their senseless fate that night. The only thing that’s certain is that their premature demise made my friend and I look like a right couple of tragic t**s too. 

■ Everything guests need to book into Eagle Brae can be found at

■  Book here and check dates:

■ Prices start from from £996.50 for an off-season short break in a two-guest cabin. All tariffs can be found online in the tariff section. You can also call 01463 761301/ 07738 076 711