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Where in the Highlands to stay

Hello
My husband and I will be visiting Scotland next June for 3 weeks. We have lodging with family in Glasgow and Markinch. It has been 40 years since I've set foot on Scottish soil (hubby has never had the pleasure). Growing up there and visiting in 1980 I never made it to the more northern areas of the Highlands, so this trip it is a must. I have been browsing on the web and can't seem to narrow down a good place to spend approximately 5 days, that is central, and that we can make day trips from. Or alternatively, 2 locations and day trips. We would love to stay somewhere quite unique if possible (although I think a castle is out of the budget). I was hoping for some suggestions on towns, suggestions on cottages/farms/inns, or websites where I could search for myself. Absolutely any suggestions are welcome. Thanks so much. Heather.

Posted by
2732 posts

We loved Inveraray and staying at Brambles -- so much so we made a point of returning the following year. The George Hotel was great for dinner & pub. Brambles has an apartment-like garden-level room with kitchenette, if I remember correctly.

Inveraray's location is pretty good for day trips around the western highlands. Do you plan to drive? You can also get to Inveraray by bus, but naturally you'd be at the mercy of bus schedules for making day trips.

Posted by
940 posts

Hi, Heather,

A lot is going to depend on how far in to the Highlands you want to travel. Inverness, although not the ideal place to stay if you want to get away from it all, is a good base for making day trips. You'll have plenty of daylight hours in June, so your day trips could take you as far north as Thurso and Bettyhill; as far northwest as Ullapool and Lochinver; as far east as Banff; as far west as Plockton and Kyle; and as far south as Fort William and Oban. So you have lots of options out of Inverness.

Given how much time you have, you may want to spend a couple of days in Inverness, and make day trips from there; then head northwest for someplace like Ullapool, Gairloch, or Lochinver, and spend some time there exploring the western Highlands.

You didn't mention Skye or Mull, which seem to be favorites on this forum. Both are possibilities. A town like Lochcarron or Plockton might be an ideal spot, as it would give you easy access to Skye, as well as places like Applecross and Torridon.

Most of the accommodation you'll find in that part of Scotland will range from B&Bs to small hotels. There are some more upscale hotels, but you'll be spending most of your time exploring, so you need to look for comfort and amenities. I'm sure that others will suggest more unique lodging - we had one very unusual and unique stay in a lighthouse outside of Gairloch.

Forty years is a long time to not have returned home. I'm sure that you must miss Scotland. I'm always reminded of the ultimate expat song Scarborough Settler's Lament by Sandy Glendenning.

Best wishes for a wonderful journey home!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
5547 posts

I've found that staying toward Inverness can let you explore a lot of the highlands and pick and choose where you go depending on the weather--when it rains in the west go north, east or south. When it doesn't rain in the west, go west. :)

I've stayed in Strathpeffer several times and it provides easy access to the west and to the North. It's a little longer to get south or east of Inverness. I've also stayed in Fortrose on the Black Isle and you can get to a lot of destinations within 90 minutes to 2 hours from there. Others will likely suggest Nairn. Strathpeffer is a Victorian Spa town. I stayed at the then Richmond Hotel. It's now the Crystal House and is under new management. There are other hotels in the town. Check out if anything is happening at the PavillionIn. In Fortrose, I stayed at The Anderson. It is a bit Fawlty Towers, but the food is outstanding and the hosts congenial.

If you don't want to go that far north, I love Dunkeld. Aberfeldy is also nice. They are in the center of Perthshire. From Dunkeld you can get north and east easily. Aberfeldy is easier access to the west. In Dunkeld I stayed at The Bridge B&B a few years ago. Most recently I stayed at The Royal Dunkeld. It's a classic old hotel. It is a bit worn and I don't think has been updated in 20 plus years. But the bed was comfortable, the food good, and again congenial hosts. I've never stayed there, but the Athol Arms always looks interesting.

Posted by
278 posts

If you decide on Inverness for at least part of your stay, and you don’t need to stay inside the town itself, I can highly recommend the Pottery House just outside of Inverness on Doral Beach. It s a purpose-built B&B right across the street from Loch Ness that was our very favorite place to stay in our trip. The room was very comfortable, the bathroom huge in comparison to other B&Bs, and the breakfast was the best of the trip, with options beyond the standard British fry. The room had a mini-fridge in the closet with filtered water and a bottle of milk, and very fluffy robes in the closet as well.

We wished we had booked it for more than the one night!

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you so much for your replies, I will certainly look into the towns and hotels/B and Bs you've suggested. We will have a car, so getting around should (hopefully) be no problem. Looking so forward to this trip!! Mike, I did note that you mentioned Skye and Mull, and yes I did think about visiting there, but with the time frame of 5-7 days in the Highland region thought it might be a bit of a push to go stay there too. Would a day trip to Skye be possible? Do the ferries run regularly to allow for that (I'm thinking of the ferries in British Columbia with hourly sailings - cars and passengers)? Thank you all again for your wonderful suggestions!

Posted by
5547 posts

Skye now has a Bridge. Which while less romantic, is definitely easier for transportation. :) Skye is a bigger island than you think, but you could see some of it in a day trip. They are wee roads and it takes a while.

For example, Google shows 46 minutes to get from Kyle of Lochalsh to Elgol. At Elgol you can take a boat trip to Loch Coruisk. It's a loch surrounded by the Cullins and is beautiful. That would be a lovely day. It's about 40 minutes up to Sligachan where you can see the Cullins from another perspective and maybe hike in a bit. (Remember these times are with no stops for pictures! :) )

It's another 10-15 minutes up to Portree. It's the town with the painted houses. From here you can go in different directions. If you want to go around Trotternish Google says it's an hour forty-five. But you need to double that at a minimum as you will want to stop and take pictures and see things. (You can cut a bit off this by slicing off the top of the peninsula.

You could go on up to Dunvegan Castle and then continue out to Niest Point to see the Lighthouse and back to Portree which would be over two hours of driving--to just keeping heading back to Kyle of Lochalsh would push it to three hours. Again that is without stops and you need to add your time to get to Kyle of Lochalsh.

If it were me I would do the boat trip even though I do love a castle and Trotternish and the Quiraing are amazing. I would suggest reading up on the island and then go if you want to on good weather day. (Good weather does not mean no rain at all. It just means not solid pouring down rain. Of course, a low ceiling inhibits your views.

You will probably find that you need to go back to Scotland for a second trip.

pam

Posted by
19 posts

Thank-you Pam. We will probably do the Skye day-trip then. Sounds good!

Posted by
2732 posts

Just to clarify: while others have recommended Inverness, my comment recommended Inveraray. Two entirely different places.