Coffee, Cakes and Views
It is well known that the Highlands has some of the finest dining to be had anywhere, as well as having some of the best pubs in the world. What many people do not realise is that, when it comes to cafes, there has been a revolution in the last few years with amazing coffee and freshly baked cakes now available in some of the most unlikely and remote corners of the Highlands. Here are a few of our favourite locations for that all important caffeine fix.
Cocoa Mountain in Durness has long been regarded as one of the premier places to stop for refreshments when driving the North Coast 500. Its reputation and the sheer demand for its artisan chocolates has meant the owners have opened a second outlet in Dornoch. Although most famous for its hot chocolate it also serves a mean cappuccino and there is no shortage of calorific indulgences to accompany it. Bring a big box of their finest chocolates back to Farthingworth for sharing. A perfect after dinner treat as you relax by the open fire.
Café Sia in Broadford has long been the coffee lovers’ top destination on Skye as they make a point of selecting some of the finest gourmet beans from around the world and hand roasting them in small batches before grinding each cup to order. Last year they faced competition for the best location to sip your flat white, from the Cuillin Coffee Co. This miniature converted van can be spotted at many of the top attractions on the island but is mainly based in Glenbrittle at the foot of the Cuillins. For convenience and location it’s hard to beat, especially if you have just come down from the ridge and are in desperate need of a quick pick me up. Saltwinds in Carbost is only short drive from here and is the ideal retreat for exploring the rest of the mountains on the island.
The Temple Café at Northton is an amazing building, constructed out of stone in a modern updating of the black house style it was originally a birdwatching shelter and is perched by the sea with stunning views. On a summers day there is nowhere better to sit outside and sip a steaming mug of Java and munch on a freshly baked muffin. It’s not the place to quickly knock back an espresso, it’s a place to linger, take your time and savour your surroundings. Once you have been suitably energised then a hike up to the top of Ceapabhal is a must. From here you can look back across the machair and the white sands of Scarista to the 5 star luxury of Otter Cottage. This modern self-catering gem really can’t be beat for beach access and location.
The award winning Mountain Café in Aviemore is a bit of an institution for hillwalkers and mountaineers. For years the enormous breakfasts have sustained intrepid visitors on their adventures in the Cairngorms but it is also a brilliant place to relax while you wait for a rain shower to pass. With inspiring views over the peaks it feels like you are right in the middle of the action and the extensive selection of home-made cakes with numerous gluten free and vegan options will entice you to stay for one more Americano. Make sure you get some takeaway to keep you going on the hills or so you can tuck in when you get back to the cosy comforts of Clach Beag which is just out of town.
Books and coffee seem to go hand in hand, especially when you are on holiday. Gairloch is blessed with having one of the best coffee shops and one of the best bookshops together under one roof. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee will entice you in and the superb collection of books will make you happily empty your wallet. Comfy chairs, enormous lattes and fresh Danish pastries make for breakfasts that last till the afternoon and best of all it’s just a short stroll to the beach when you do manage to tear yourself away. Shore House is right on the waters edge just further up the coast. The outdoor seating area would be the ideal place to take in the view and tuck into your newly acquired tomes, if you haven’t finished by sundown then stoke the fire inside for an atmospheric evening.