We head to the Scottish Highlands for some of Britain's most beautiful and unspoilt scenery.
The West Highlands are our top Scottish destination this season thanks to warm temperatures, brought in by the Gulf Stream, and easy access from Inverness. Whilst we may not be able to promise dry and calm conditions, we have compiled a list of cosy and inviting cottages and hotels to protect you from the elements and curl up in after a long day exploring. And the looming winter will only add to an an already dramatic and unmissable landscape; mountainous land gives way to sweeping views across an ocean dotted with islands where many inhabitants still speak Gaelic as their first language. Culture, both old and new, is an important part of the West Highland’s way of life and live music from popular and upcoming groups is a feature in many of the pubs.
For self-catered luxury check in to one of The Stonehouses, two five star holiday retreats that nestle into the hillside above Ullapool, invisible to all below.
The open plan design, large panoramic windows and saunas in both properties are a revelation compared to traditional, holiday cottages. Any concerns that all this space and modernity aren’t suited to the blustery winds and cold temperatures that the coming winter months bring will evaporate with the help of wood burning stoves, large freestanding baths and underfloor heating. Just what you need after a long walk through the surrounding countryside.
Just 50 minutes South of Ullapool, Pool House Hotel presides over the shores of Loch Ewe. Once used as the Navy headquaters and a training base during the Second World War, the hotel is now run by the Harrison family.
In celebration of the hotel’s past, each suite is named after a navel vessel and every one a treasure trove stuffed full of antiques, collectables from around the world and gilded walls. It is the dining room however which forms the heart of Pool House where guests can enjoy a five course set menu and the sight of seals and otters playing in the Loch outside.
Langass Lodge in North Uist, Outer Hebrides is for the adventurer in all of us, willing to venture furthe away from the mainland but eager to still sleep in comfort. Everyone is generously accommodated here and despite its remote location there is no shortage of activities to keep you busy, from shooting to kayaking and day trips to other islands. The lodge also encompasses a well respected restaurant which grows the majority of its own vegetables and herbs. If possible fly into Barra and experience its infamous beach landing strip for yourself.
Find out more about The Stonehouses here or telephone 01854 613 838. The Pool House Hotel can be found here or telephone 01445 781 272. For more information on Langass Lodge click here or telephone 01876 580 285.
Peet’s (01571 844 085) in Lochinver only opened in the summer of 2014 but it has snapped up one of the area’s most sought after locations. Sitting harbour-side the restaurant serves fresh, local produce throughout the year.
For something a little more traditional try the restaurant at The Albannach Hotel (01571 844 407), proud recipient of Britain’s most northerly michelin star. Feast on langoustine, roast saddle of wild Roe deer and caramelised apple tart.
Finally head to Ullapool’s West Coast Deli (01854 613 450) and pick up one of their indulgent hampers for friends and family back home, if you can bear to share. This family run delicatessen stocks an extensive range of highland produce, from fudge to cheese and everything in between, sourced from small artisan suppliers.
The dramatic Scottish landscape is best demonstrated at Corrieshalloch Gorge (0844 493 2224), a series of waterfalls including the thunderous Measach, a 45 metre drop, which forms part of a national nature reserve. A Victorian suspension bridge brings you tantalisingly close to the action and a viewing platform provides breathtaking views.
For something a little more ‘civilised’ visit the internationally acclaimed Highland Stoneware (01571 844 376) workshops (in Lochinver and Ullapool) where you can catch a glimpse of the action. The collective celebrates it’s fortieth birthday this year and still produces the freehand painted ceramics and stoneware which first launched it into the public eye.
No trip to the coast in complete without a visit to the beach and Achmelvich is, rightly so, the area’s most popular one. White sand gives way to surprisingly clear water but whether you take a dip is up to you.