Sometimes when you go away all you want is a home from home. The champagne bars, duck-filled pillows and the attentive service of the higher end hotels are easy to admire but after a full day’s adventuring outdoors only an honest hideaway where you can stick on the kettle and flop on the sofa will do.
Sealladh na Beinne in the Glencoe area offers exactly that, and is a place you would be delighted to call your own – even if it is only for a few days.
Budget or boutique?
Sealladh na Beinne is certainly reasonably priced, but flooded with light, it brings the drama and the beauty of Glencoe right into your temporary home. The property sits on the top floor of a house in the Old Town of North Ballachulish, just a short walk from the famous bridge. Its name is Gaelic for “View of the Hills” and large windows cut through each side of the living space giving stunning aspects of Beinn a’ Bheithir to the south. So if harsh weather forces you to stay indoors, you won’t be missing out on the fabulous surroundings.
The house is fresh and clean, as if you’re the first ever to stay here. It is homely without being twee, and functional without losing its charm. Decorated in modern neutrals with just the odd touch of plaid here and there, it has escaped a good dipping of Highland fancy. The work of local artists hangs on the walls.
There is television, access to Sky and wi-fi if you want it. Everything works without a hitch, and the kitchen has a washing machine and tumble drier.
The double bedroom to the back is small but with a huge hidden storage area. There is no bath, but the powerful shower is more than adequate.
The owners of the house, Barbara and Arra, live in the bottom half of the property, which sits in a small turning of homes. Some folk may prefer to stay in splendid Highland isolation but Sealladh na Beinne is so quiet you don’t hear a peep, apart from perhaps the oystercatchers nesting nearby. The owners are warm and friendly and are there if you need them.
Wining and dining
The Loch Leven Hotel on Old Ferry Road is a 10-minute walk away and is a great option if you want to leave the car behind. There is a lovely deck that looks out over the water and the Ballachulish Bridge, a perfect spot on a Highland night if the midges aren’t at play.
We ate here a couple of times as it is so handy. Typical dishes include beef shin with mash, venison sausages in blackcurrant jus and fish and chips with haddock so large they must have needed a bigger boat to land it.
Further afield is the Lochleven Seafood Café, highly recommended but more expensive. It has a brilliant view over the Camus Mhor to the Pap of Glencoe. There are a couple of restaurants in Ballachulish village and also a decent Co-op if you want to stay in and eat. The famous Clachaig Inn, where the beers, music and food have become something of legend, is around four-and-a-half miles away through the Pass of Glencoe. It’s about £17 each way from Sealladh na Beinne in a taxi, which should be booked well in advance.
Out and about
The area is rich in natural beauty and turbulent Highland history. The Glencoe Visitor Centre is perhaps the best starting point to discover more. It gives a good account of the area’s past and provides a map of easy trails and points of interest, such a Signal Rock, the gathering place of the MacDonalds of Glencoe. A walk to the Inchree Falls at Onich takes less than an hour offering the memorable sight of crashing water and Loch Linnhe spread out before you. Kayaking, mountain biking and boat trips are all available. Fort William is just 12 miles away and Oban is around 30 miles south along Loch Linnhe.
A box of locally made biscuits, soap and a dram welcomes you.
A lovely stay in a quiet, clean retreat where the spectacle of Glencoe is always near.
High season (April to September) £93 per night for two (minimum stay three nights in high season), weekly £651. Sealladh na Beinne, Old Town, North Ballachulish, Lochaber PH33 6RZ, (01855 821068, www.stay-glencoe.co.uk)