Last year we enjoyed our summer holiday in Gairloch so much that we decided to return this year. But this time we chose to rent a holiday cottage just outside Gairloch instead of staying at the campsite. (It’s not that we didn’t love the wigwams but a house seemed a better option for this – rather chaotic – stage in our lives). And so we booked a stay at Rose Cottage in the lovely little hamlet of Badachro.
I adore the West Coast and love exploring more of the wonderful North Coast 500 – if you haven’t already experienced any of this fantastically scenic drive you can expect scenes such as this (looking towards Loch Maree and Kinlochewe).
The weather forecast for the week was very mixed but we knew the day we were travelling over was meant to be sunny. And sunny it was – a glorious day for taking in the magical west coast scenery. We had lunch at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Kinlochewe, which I thoroughly recommend – I loved it as soon as I laid eyes on its colourful exterior; it’s a charming little cafe that serves scrumptious food (and a few other bits and pieces, I only just managed to resist buying a pheasant handbag). Once fed and watered, we walked along the road towards the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve to stretch our legs – I’d have liked to have spent more time walking here but, as ever, our journey was dictated by naps and I had to make do with taking a few photographs.
Keen to make the most of the weather we headed straight for Gairloch Beach. As the littles were still napping I set off with my camera in hand and enjoyed a half hour walk around the beautiful shore, up onto the rocks and back along the path that edges the golf course. We then had an hour once they had woken up to play and paddle and just enjoy the sunshine before heading to our holiday cottage. It is a gem of a beach, with the most startling turquoise water (more on that later).
When we arrived in Badachro (about a 10 minute drive from Gairloch towards Red Point) we were greeted by a herd of free-roaming cows, much to Isaac’s astonishment. He watched them passing his window and chastised them: ‘You should not be on the road, it’s dangerous!’. We pulled in to let them past and looked up to find we were sitting right outside Rose Cottage.
I loved the cottage and the nostalgia of its interior. I found comfort in its old-fashioned decor, it reminded me of being in my grandfather’s house when I was a little girl. Having no Wi-Fi added to its appeal to me, as it meant an enforced digital detox (which I very much needed – although I did still have little digital fixes when we were in cafes). There was something really lovely about feeling like we’d stepped into another era.
We unpacked (ok, my husband unpacked whilst I pretended to help but actually just went round taking photographs) and promptly walked down to Badachro Inn for dinner. If you’re in the Gairloch area it’s worth the wee detour to have lunch or dinner here (and if you visit during the day, stop at the lovely little shop just before the Inn for a range of pretty crafts and gifts). We had fish and chips, which were delicious and enjoyed the lovely views – the Inn is nestled right into the edge of the bay.
The next day whilst we waited for our friends to arrive we explored Inverewe Garden (which I’ve written about here) and then headed into Gairloch in the afternoon. As the weather had become rather wet we decided to visit the Gairloch Museum (aka ‘the best little museum in Scotland’). I really enjoyed the exhibits, particularly the old light from a nearby lighthouse, and liked that there were some hands-on activities for the boys.
The following day we stopped by the Poolewe Tuesday market (a wonderful market selling everything from fresh seafood to second hand books to wooden crafts) and then drove up to the oh-so-scenic Mellon Udrigle beach. This beautiful beach quickly became one of my favourites, despite showers and a cold wind making it a briefer visit than I would have liked. The white sand and greeny-blue water were striking set against the grey of the skies – I can only imagine how spectacular it must be when bathed in sunshine. Isaac was fascinated by the fact that there was sheep poo all over the beach (still coming to terms with the fact that these west coast sheep and cows are not confined to fields, as he had previously believed). Mellon Udrigle, I can’t wait to visit you again one day…
We ended the day with a fantastic dinner of the seafood we’d picked up at the market – freshly caught squat lobsters (unique to the Wester Ross area, I believe) and crab. There’s nothing quite like a delicious seafood meal washed down by sea views…
One activity that we had really wanted to do both last year and this summer was a trip on the Sealife Glass Bottom boat around Gairloch Bay, but with the windy weather we weren’t sure we’d make it out. Luckily we were able to go out on the only day that week that any of the boat trips ran. (I had hoped to go on a whale watching trip but will hopefully have that to look forward to next year). It was a fantastic trip, which the boys loved. The ‘captain’, as they called him, was really good with the wee ones and pulled out various things from the water for them to touch. They were given a sheet with pictures of wildlife to look out for and they were allowed to steer the boat on its return to the harbour (they were then presented with a certificate for being a ‘captain’). What I found fascinating was the colour of the water – we asked our guide why it seemed a more dazzling green than last year and he explained that a new algae had arrived earlier this summer, creating the milky turquoise appearance of the sea (thank you, algae – you make for lovely photographs). It did, however, make it quite difficult to see anything through the windows but we didn’t mind.
On the last day we went back to the Big Sands Campsite, where we had holidayed last year, to let the boys roam the lovely sandy beach and scour its amazing rock pools. Dark clouds gathered around the horizon, engulfing the silhouette of Skye, and the heavens opened just as we returned from our beach adventure and headed to the cafe on the campsite for lunch. I absolutely love the cafe there and was quite happy whiling away a rainy afternoon with tea and cake.Despite very changeable weather we had a wonderful west coast holiday and I would definitely return to the idyllic setting of Badachro. Although a small village the boys headed off every day for adventures, whatever the weather; walking, cycling, playing on the rope swings on the shore in front of the cottage and crabbing off the pier by Badachro Inn. Along with the nostalgia of the cottage interior these activities added to the slightly Enid Blyton feel of the holiday – and I suppose reminded me of my own childhood holidays. A reminder of simpler times perhaps. I enjoyed having my phone off and not being on social media all week; Rose Cottage was the perfect place to turn off all the noise and just enjoy the view. And what a view it is…
For more on my travels on this part of the North Coast 500 take a look at this short video filmed on my Ipad during the week (I challenge you not to tap your feet to the music…).
Have you been to the area? What do you love about it? I’d love to hear about your favourite places to visit.