About Five Senses

Five Senses runs cultural walking tours and outdoor and bushcraft activities in Perthshire and Orkney, Scotland. Our aim is to to change the world by teaching people how to use their senses to connect with the natural world. Over and over again, we’ve seen how something as seemingly simple as connecting to their environment makes people feel confident, relaxed and joyful.

Who are we?

We are Malcolm Handoll, who is a qualified Mountain Leader and outdoor survival skills instructor, and Rachel DuBois, who runs the website and works with Malcolm to create all our offerings.

We met 15 years ago when Rachel came to Scotland on holiday, fresh from corporate burnout in Washington, DC as a Web Producer for Sprint. Two weeks after our chance sharing of a hostel bedroom on the isle of Skye, we got engaged and Rachel never did take that return flight back to America.

For years we lived in the remote islands of Orkney experimenting with Power Off Weekends (living with no electricity for a weekend), going car-free in an area with little public transportation (we did a lot of cycling and hitchhiking), and learning traditional crafts. But then we had our son in 2011 and wanted to be closer to more people and airports, so we moved to Perthshire, about 90 minutes north of Edinburgh and on the Highlands border.

By extraordinary good luck we came across an advert on Gumtree that said “Live in a Castle: 2-bedroom flat for Let”, which is how we came to be living on the 1300 acre, eco-friendly Bamff Estate. 

Bamff was one of the first places in Britain to reintroduce the wild beaver and also runs an organic farm. Paul and Louise Ramsay, whose family has owned the estate since the 1300s, are pioneers in rewilding, the act of restoring natural habitat to the landscape.

Bamff house surrounded by hills and trees

Bamff Estate, 1300 acre organic farm and home to wild beavers

What is Five Senses about?

Our work through Five Senses is part of this vision of rewilding — except we like to think we’re rewilding people.

Our goal is create experiences that change how people live, that help them feel more confident and re-energised. We combine Malcolm’s experience as a Mountain Leader and bushcraft guide and lover of all things outdoors, with Rachel’s experience with personal development (and need to feel comfortable and relaxed in the outdoors!).

Our goal is also to share some of the incredibly beautiful and magical places and experiences that we discover almost daily as we continue exploring Scotland because, having come from Wales and America and lived in many places before settling here, we know how special the area is, particularly Bamff Estate itself. 

Why Bamff is special

Because Bamff is an organic farm, whose water supply is fed by underground spring, we enjoy 1300 acres completely free of pesticides, air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution. At night, you can lie in bed and hear the owls hoot to each other in the woods, or a lamb call out to its mother in the field. There’s no sound of traffic or cars or people, just nature and the quiet of night. You can see the stars because we don’t have streetlights casting a 24-hour glow. You can drink the water unfiltered and breathe the air because they are fresh and clean.

There is a peace but also bubbling energy here, and our experience of living and working here for the past 5 years has shaped so much of what we do. Bamff runs accommodation ranging from yurts to a Hideaway Cabin to self-catering cottages, so even if you don’t do anything with us, we encourage you to come for a visit. And when you do, be sure to ring the top bell on the turret stairwell so we can have a nice cup of tea and a chat!

Bamff House in summer

Bamff House, where we live in the top flat

Our tours to Orkney

For people wanting to experience ancient Scotland, we run tours to Orkney that focus on connecting people to the prehistoric lifestyle and culture that is still visible in Orkney’s Neolithic World Heritage sites.

Our tours take all the best places and knowledge we acquired there plus creating the environment to let the magic of Orkney itself work. Interestingly, we’ve found these tours are particularly meaningful for people at a crossroads in their life, who are needing to make important decisions about their future, as there’s something profoundly catalysing about the islands.

4 standing stones with grazing sheep

Standing Stones of Stenness, Orkney

Outdoor skills and bushcraft courses

Man holding compass with mountains in background

For adults wanting to learn outdoors skills or bushcraft, we run courses in Navigation including Natural Navigation using the sun and stars, and Firemaking, the ancient art of making fire with a bowdrill. As much as the skills themselves, it’s the self-confidence and sense of freedom they bring to people that encourages us to keep teaching and improving upon what we do. 

The Adventure Club: Outdoor skills for kids

Boy and girl building a shelter in the woods

For families who have kids wanting to learn outdoor skills, and inspired by the work we’ve done with our son at his school, we run the Adventure Club. The Adventure Club teaches outdoor skills in a fun yet challenging way to kids ages 7 and up. Ranging from building shelters to making fire, learning how to navigate to staying safe in the outdoors, the Club also links strongly to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, particularly in developing maths and science skills.

We have both a School Holidays Adventure Club and an After School Adventure Club, which is currently running at Isla Primary School in Angus but which can be run at any school or youth group. We often collaborate with Wild Sparks, an outdoor play scheme run during the school holidays.

Guided walks

Finally, Malcolm leads guided walks locally, including the Angus Walking Festival, to ensure that people have a marvellous time on the hills whilst staying safe.

Malcolm enjoying life at the top of a guided walk

So welcome and thanks for taking the time to visit us. 

Rachel and Malcolm, smiling

That’s us squinting into the sun on top of Drum Castle

If we can help you in any way — Malcolm loves to help with travel logistics, for example — then by all means, get in touch. We look forward to connecting with you.

Contact us