I spent many happy childhood summer holidays at Big Sands caravan park in Gairloch. What better place to return to for a family holiday to celebrate my Mum and Dad's 70th Birthdays. No slumming it in a caravan this time. We rented a luxury holiday house also owned by the Sands Caravan and Camping Park. The views and beach were even better than I remembered. Moreso with the selection of G&T I brought.
The holiday house was absolutely perfect for our needs. Luxuriously fitted out with plenty of space for the 7 of us in 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. A large kitchen diner with underfloor heating was well kitted out. Mum's big birthday was the day after our arrival. Foodie Sis had been charged with the job of baking and decorating a cake and she did an amazingly good job especially considering it had to travel from Luton to Inverness in hand luggage. Elmer the Patchwork Elephant on a Patchwork Quilt atop a Battenburg Cake.
Can't celebrate a birthday without Champagne and I also sneaked a virtual gin into the mix. Virtual by the fact that the distillery isn't yet built. The first small batch of Rock Rose Gin should be ready towards the end of May. Dunnet Bay Distillers up in the far north of Scotland in Caithness have reserved bottle number 44 to reflect Mum's 06/04/44 birthdate.
For the birthday meal we headed into Gairloch to Na Mara Restaurant. The meal was a perfect end to a day of celebrations. Interesting menu, great seafood and a good selection of Scottish Vodkas and Gins. It would have been rude not to sample at least some of them in a cocktail.
The morning after the night before boy and girl decided that they would cook up a very speacel breakfast menu. A fantastic selechan to choose from. The food and service was great but some work needed on the spelling. I can highly recommend a quasong and dick egg followed by a jin and tonik as the perfect start to the day.
Our travels throughout the week took us to Gairloch, Ullapool, Inverewe Gardens, Rua Reidh Lighthouse and the Corrieshalloch Gorge. We even encountered Feral Goats. In all my years of living in the highlands I honestly thought that they were a myth. Plenty of highland hospitality eating and drinking opportunities along the way including shellfish from Dry Island, butchery from Kenneth Morrison and coffee at Mountain Coffee Company.
Weather during our stay was mixed but thankfully no sign of the dreaded midgie. On one particularly driech afternoon we headed for Gairloch Museum followed by coffee and cake at recently opened Barn Cafe. Absolutely loved the Lobster and Langoustine crockery from Tain Pottery. Treated myself to a mug but I have aspirations for more.
Couldn't go to Gairloch without catching up with Michelle from Snow Marketing. She'd given us some recommendations of where to eat in the area and I noticed that one of her suggestions, The Steading Bistro, had just started doing an evening Tapas menu. A table was duly booked and 9 of us sampled pretty much every item on the menu. Fab food, drink and conversation. Being the last folk to leave always signifies a good night.
On one of the glorious sunny days we visited the Isle of Ewe Smokehouse and stocked up on crab, smoked salmon and trout, smoked brie and Smoked Blarliath Truckle. A beautiful setting on the shores of Loch Ewe. An amazing location in terms of view and history.
West coast seafood featured heavily during our week and we particularly enjoyed local langoustine, scallops and crab. Unfortunately windy weather meant that we couldn't get out on a Shellfish Safari to haul in our own creels. We also failed in our search for spoot clams. Apparently the tides were not in our favour. They were neep and we needed spring. All the more reason to return. Not that any real reason is ever required to visit Gairloch.