Michael and I spent one week in the Western Highlands of Scotland in late April/early May. A very relaxing peaceful week, mostly just in each others company. It came at just the right time, as holidays often do!
We stayed in a gorgeous cottage, which is available to hire on http://www.uniquecottages.co.uk, we were gifted this stay as a Christmas present.
The house was a gorgeous old workers house, which has been lovingly restored, which sits above a Loch Shiel (the Loch featured in the Harry Potter films). The house had gorgeous gardens and you felt like the only people around for miles!
You need a car to get here and explore this very remote area. We hired our car in Edinburgh, went to the supermarket to load up with food for the week and then headed North through Scotland. Due to the car hire company overbooking, we managed to get a brand new never been driven Mercedes Benz, which made for very comfortable driving!
We knew we needed to buy some Welly boots to keep our feet dry as we explored and so planned a stop at the House of Bruar https://www.houseofbruar.com/ in Blair Atholl (where we had stayed before prior to New Year’s Eve) on the way. It is the most ‘English/Scottish countryside type department store you will ever set foot in. With the most helpful staff, who ran around bringing me all sorts of welly boots to try on! Then the shop assistant declared I didn’t need to try on anymore she I knew just the ones and came back with the spotty ones I ended up buying. It’s honestly worth stopping at this gorgeous store just to have a look even if you don’t intend on buying anything.
We arrived early evening at the house, quickly unpacked and headed up the hills behind the house to check out the views.
The next day, we had a gorgeous blue sky and decided to make the most of the good weather by checking out some beautiful local beaches. The first place we decided on was Smirisary. It required a bit of a walk down an unmarked track, we spent a fair bit of time going in the wrong direction so it ended up being quite a hike, but we loved it!
We spent some time enjoying ourselves then when our tummies began to rumble we decided it was time to head back, we went the right way this time, and it was much faster! After lunch, we headed off in the opposite direction to see the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan point.
After a quick stop here, we turned off to Sanna beach, another gorgeous white sandy beach!
The rest of the week had considerably more Scottish weather, which meant cosying up by the fireplace in the evenings, and exploring in Wellies and coats during the day!
There’s a lot to check out in this remote area
- Loads of nature walks, lochs, beaches and coves and general exploring
- Castle Tioram – a mystical ruined castle on a sandspit
- Ardnamurchan distillery – the newest and greenest distillery in Scotland, you might even get a private tour and tastings like we did!
- Glenuig Smokery – not so great for us as we’re vegan, but if you’re not…
- Ardtoe beach
- Resipole art gallery – beautiful little gallery, wished we had decided to splurge and buy some art whilst we were here!
- Glenfinnan Viaduct, longer drive to check out the Harry Potter Bridge (where Harry and Ron are filmed flying over the Hogwarts express in Ron’s Dads flying car!) If you look online in advance you can time your visit to see the Jacobite steam train going over, give yourself time to walk to a good spot (10 minutes or so)
- Fort William, we also found a GREAT cafe called the WildCat, delicious vegan food and great retail selection too, good for coffee! We sort of tongue in cheek google vegan cafe and were so surprised when this came up!
- Loch Shiel – can hire a little motor boat from the big farmhouse – where black lake scenes filmed for Harry Potter
- For the Adventurous/Mad or additional trip altogether: The Herebidies….I noticed the Isle of Iona was near …ish…. and was desperate to go (Iona College was my High school back in New Zealand), so we made a mammoth day trip, left very early, drove to catch a tiny ferry to the Isle of Mull, drove the whole length of Mull, parked the car and jumped on the foot ferry (no cars allowed other than post vans etc) to Iona! ….5 hours of driving on VERY challenging roads at least. Michael is my hero for doing this for me
We left incredibly refreshed, we’d thoroughly recommend taking a relaxing break in Scotland! It’s worth getting some local knowledge of the area before you go to really make the most of your time, and staying in one place and exploring out from there, it was great to have a base and not worry about moving around during that time.