Travel: Grannie's Heilan' Hame Holiday Park, Embo, Sutherland
Budget or boutique?
Now part of the nationwide Parkdean Resorts, Grannie’s has really tried to up its game over the past few years to give staycationers like us a wow factor. Our caravan holiday home is a Lomond, a three-bedroom model that sleeps six to eight. One double and two twin bedrooms are adequate for our needs, and in case of any more guests, the sofa in the living room coverts into a second double.
The caravan is clean and spacious, and linen is provided (though the beds aren’t made). It may not be boutique here but it is spotless and great value for money.
Grannie’s is fairly well signposted from the main A9, though the last few miles are along some windy roads, at times single track, so be careful, especially if you are travelling in the dark and not used to country driving. On arrival, a friendly receptionist welcomes us with the usual information and maps of the park. Also, a lovely touch is the ball, biscuits and poop bags for the dug – Grannie’s is totally dog-friendly and there are loads of pooches on the park.
The main building houses reception, the bar/restaurant/entertainment space and a separate, more refined restaurant.
There’s also a swimming pool, games arcade, fish and chip takeaway and a shop for sundries in the bottom floor of the building.
Wining and dining
The kitchen is well stocked with crockery and cutlery, and there’s a welcome hamper awaiting including tea, coffee, biscuits, milk, orange juice, bread and butter – a perfect starter pack. The small shop on site has a wide range, but you’d be wise to stock up in a larger supermarket in nearby Tain on your way in. The more informal eatery is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We take the kids to eat there for a quick lunch, and their meals are quickly gobbled up, while the Costa Coffee satisfies my caffeine requirements.
In the grown-up restaurant it’s essential to make a reservation. There the service is fast and friendly and the food adequate, though the children’s menu could do with raising its game a notch or two.
Worth getting out of bed for
Our caravan is right on the seafront, which means that every day we awake to the clean sands of Embo beach, which even in winter is frequented by dog walkers, strolling families and rock pool jumpers. At night, in the dark, when the waves are crashing against the rocks, it’s romantically stormy, but I’d imagine that when it’s really blowing a hoolie, it’s not so welcoming. The sunrises are amazing and the views to die for.
At the park, there’s an adequate children’s playground, crazy golf, football pitches, tennis courts and dog walking areas. If you’re not into the outdoors, there’s a swimming pool and all the flashing lights of the games arcade to keep the children entertained.
Inverness is only an hour away, and the pretty town of Dornoch is worth a look – with a world-famous golf course, cathedral (where Madonna had her son Rocco christened) and lovely cafés like Cocoa Mountain. If you like whisky, the Glenmorangie Distillery is close by, while further north Dunrobin Castle will appeal to the history buffs in the family, and offers birds of prey and beautiful gardens.
This is a great holiday park, clean and well managed, with some fantastic prices for a family jaunt. Focus on the outdoor activities for maximum enjoyment. The children loved it.
Four nights in spring – arriving Monday, 30 April, £99 (saving £20), in a two-bedroom Forth caravan, which sleeps six. Seven nights in summer – arriving Friday, 10 August – £499 (saving £120), in a two-bedroom Forth caravan which sleeps six. Grannie’s Heilan’ Hame Holiday Park, Embo, Sutherland IV25 3QD, 0344 335 3450. www.parkdeanresorts.co.uk/