Photo: 7 Carnish
Eating outside is one of life’s great pleasures, for some reason food just seems to taste better if it is prepared or consumed with the addition of fresh air. With this summer lasting forever, there is still time to book a holiday in the sun and experience the joys of dining al fresco. Here are a few of our favourite spots and some ideas for what to tuck into.
The best breakfasts come with a sea view so maybe it’s appropriate to start the day with something fishy. From the terrace outside 7 Carnish you can savour some scrambled eggs with Uig Lodge smoked salmon and cream cheese while you enjoy uninterrupted views over the vast white sands of Uig Bay and its inviting turquoise waters. This is also a spot for lazy, elongated brunches that last for ages. Multiple cups of coffee will be required to tear yourself away and explore the rest of the attractions of the island. But if you don’t want to venture too far then you can access the water with a short walk from the bottom of the garden.
Not only does Strath Brora View have a large outdoor deck but it is shielded from the elements so you can dine outside year-round. It’s quiet and peaceful here, birdsong and the crunch of hot buttered toast often being the only thing you will likely hear over breakfast. It’s only a short cycle from here to the beach so load up your picnic basket and amble down to enjoy red sands without any of the crowds of the popular west coast spots.
Cakes on a mountain top must surely rank as a top holiday indulgence. When you have been out all day burning off calories and working up an appetite and you suddenly reach the summit of one of the classic west coast Munros nothing beats a flask of tea and a sugary snack. On a clear day, with a panoramic view, I can honestly say I would rather be sat on a rock on a mountain top sipping tea from a thermos than dining in the most exclusive city restaurant. Cakes and hillwalking go hand in hand, each best enjoyed with the other so don’t forget to load up in advance. Beinn Alligin is a luxury retreat with a location that is perfect for the accessing the Torridon hills and a brilliant kitchen if you wanted to do some of your own baking- especially as you are left a welcome gift of the most wonderful free-range eggs from the owners’ rare breed chickens. Liathach, the Horns of Alligin and Beinn Eighe are all within striking distance and can be done together in one big day (pack extra cake) or gently over a couple.
For many people the smell of a barbecue is one of the most evocative memories of summer holiday. Freshly caught seafood, sizzling slowly as you watch the sun set, with a cold beer is truly a sensory experience to savour. Riof Ocean Cottage has a deck overlooking the sea with a barbecue and is only a short drive to the scallop shack at Miavaig harbour where you can pick up fresh landed seafood. Instead of planning a recipe in advance it’s better to just turn up and see what the fisherman have landed. With food this fresh its best not to overpower it with condiments anyway. Some butter, salt and pepper are all you really need to bring out that unbeatable west coast flavour.
One of the highlights of camping used to be sitting round a fire in the evening toasting marshmallows. With most campsites now forbidding open fires and many parts of the country attempting to stop wild campers from accidently starting potentially damaging wildfires then options for this most traditional of activities are becoming limited. One alternative is to stay at somewhere like Taigh nan Eilean. Here you can have 4-star luxury instead of canvas but still have the benefit of a fire pit outside where you can sit around in the evening. Relax without worrying about the fire spreading across neighbouring hillsides as children safely toast their marshmallows and adults can enjoy a drink while the smoke keeps the midges at bay as dusk falls. Perfect Hebridean hygge for all the family.