Four months ago, Channel 4 marooned 23 strangers in the Highlands. Until March next year, they’ll have no contact with the outside world as they attempt to build a society from scratch. Right now, they have no idea of the outcome of the Brexit referendum or that Britain has a new Prime Minister.
Although we asked nicely, Channel 4 are being coy about their whereabouts. Fortunately – unlike their contestants – we have access to the internet, which has revealed that Eden is a 600-acre estate on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in Inverness-shire.
This 50-square-mile peninsula is halfway up Scotland’s rugged west coast and home to half a dozen small communities. The nearest village to Eden is Acharacle, which sits on the edge of Loch Shiel and boasts a bakery, hotel and GP surgery. The loch is popular with hikers and naturalists, and it’s easy to see why.
The Glenfinnan monument on the shores of Loch Shiel, Ardnamurchan peninsula
The contestants are less than five miles away on an uninhabited private estate that the Ministry of Defence used as a training ground during the Second World War. There’s no chance any holidaying hikers will accidentally stumble onto TV because the Highland Council has temporarily revoked the usual “right to roam” access rights.
Just in case, a 6ft fence has also been erected on three sides of the estate. The fourth is bordered by the sea – stunning Cul na Croise Bay, which you can glimpse in the trailer below.
Even Channel 4 won’t be scaling that wall. The cameramen are also contestants and the rest of the action is captured on personal cameras or one of the largest fixed rigs created for television (basically a network of posh CCTV cameras controlled remotely), which had to be flown in by helicopter.
Ardnamurchan peninsula on Scotland’s west coast
The Ardnamurchan estate is owned by a chap called Donald Houston, who was bemused when Channel 4 first approached him about Eden.
“We laughed and thought they were completely mad at first, as we know how challenging the landscape is around here and it seemed impossible people could survive out on their own”, he told the The Scottish Mail on Sunday back in December (presumably before Channel 4 asked him to keep shtum).
Houston continued: “The area they have chosen has been uninhabited for many years. We know people lived there in the Bronze Age but, as people have gradually become less self-sufficient, they have left for more accessible areas… It can get very wet and windy here, which will make it difficult to build shelter and to find food – the weather will be a big issue – and the land is not very fertile for growing crops. There are a few more sheltered areas on the site, but they will need to find them.”
In other words, Channel 4’s paradise won’t always be idyllic, especially if the contestants don’t like gales and midges.