A Short Meander Home
Below Smiddy Cottage with the Polochar Inn in the distance
Drinking a glass of wine over dinner, or having a couple of beers on a hot afternoon are some of life’s greatest pleasures but since the recent tightening up of drink driving laws in Scotland you could be breaking the law if you were to try and drive home afterwards. While this has undoubtedly led to safer roads it does sometimes, especially in more rural areas where public transport options are minimal, mean that some planning is required before a visit to the pub. Alternatively you could holiday in a self-catering house that has all the benefits of a countryside location while at the same time being with walking distance of the nearest watering hole.
Mullach Ruadh has the advantage of feeling like a rural retreat, right in the middle of the wilderness, but at the same time being less than a minute walk to the Princes House Hotel. This 17th century coaching inn would have originally served horseback travellers on the historic Road to the Isles. It now has an AA Rosette award for its commitment to using local produce and the bar features local ales as well as a huge selection of the most inviting single malts. Although the modern kitchen in Mullach Ruadh makes catering for up to 8 a breeze the sheer convenience of popping next door to eat just can’t be beat.
Berryburn is close to the wedding capital of Scotland at Gretna Green and is ideal for large groups or families attending nuptials. This spacious Victorian villa comfortably sleeps 10 and the extensive gardens make a great place for a wedding buffet or a quiet glass of wine. Although trains haven’t stopped here for years, the old bridge over the railway line behind the house allows quick and easy access to The Station Inn. It’s also close enough that that the fashion conscious can still manage the walk in heels and glad rags. The inn itself is very much traditional and old fashioned, real ales and hearty home cooked food is the order of the day, but for those who prefer a quiet night in then Berryburn has two log fires to cosy up beside.
The Anderson in Fortrose has, in the past few years, been awarded Champion Beer Pub of Scotland, Craft Beer Bar of the Year, Camra Pub of the Year, and received a gold medal in the Whisky Bar of the Year competition 4 years in a row. If that’s not enough reason to tarry a while then the attached restaurant also has a string of culinary awards. One of the attractions of holidaying here is that many of the things to see and do are within easy walking distance, The Shore is so warm and comforting, and with such spectacular views over the Moray Firth it can be hard to tear yourself away. However, it’s definitely worth making the effort as you can work up an appetite with a gentle stroll up the beach to Chanonry Point to see the dolphins before returning for a freshly poured pint courtesy of one of the amazing local breweries.
How many journeys home from the pub will take you past a megalithic standing stone and across a stunning white sandy beach? On holiday you should never have to justify a visit to the local hostelry but the proximity of the Polochar Inn to Fuidaigh and the fabulous ten minute walk to get there make it almost criminal were you not to saunter down. The Inn dates back to 1750 when it was a change-house where people waited for the ferry to Barra and it gets its name from the standing stone just outside (charra). Usually these can only be found on the top of prominent hills or landmarks, being just outside the car park of the pub this must surely be one of the easiest to visit in all of the UK. Inside, the inn retains many of its original features and local seafood is available as well as an enticing selection of single malts.
Glenforsa Hotel was constructed from imported Norwegian logs in the 1960s. Unique and atmospheric it commands amazing views over the Sound of Mull and it is not unusual to spot Sea Eagles, Seals and Otters along the shoreline while you relax with a dram. It’s only a few minutes’ walk from the luxury of Glenforsa House; take the pedestrian bridge over the river Forsa then skirt round the airfield and you can arrive without even have to cross the road or even see any traffic. Remember to pack a torch if you are planning to stay for last orders. The walk home is incredibly safe but those used to city living may be perturbed by the lack of streetlights and the all-enveloping darkness that is typical on the west coast.