Berriedale Beach House
Just a stone's throw from the shore, Berriedale Beach House is an immaculate end-terrace cottage on the Welbeck Estate about 9 miles north of Helmsdale in Caithness. To reach it, you come off the A9 Inverness-Wick highway and then take a spectacular road down the cliffs past some wonderful Victorian buildings along the riverside to reach this little terrace of three houses, on a short, private road to a very simple, ancient harbour and beach, overlooked by the ruins of Sinclair Castle which dates back to the 13th century.
The location is as unusual as it is spectacular. There is a small, fenced-off front garden separate from the house, next to the burn which created this little gorge . A suspension footbridge takes you across that to the shingle shore, and behind the house rise the cliffs.
The house would originally have been built to accommodate an estate worker and it certainly wouldn't have been as beautifully presented and well-equipped as it is now. There is a large sitting room with wood burner and wide-screen TV, and the farmhouse-style kitchen has plenty of room for dining. Downstairs there is also a small bedroom and WC. Upstairs, are two further bedrooms (a double and a twin/double) and a particularly spacious bathroom with separate shower.
This is just the place for a family holiday. Children will enjoy playing for hours in the burn (though care should, of course, be taken both here and at the nearby harbour) while adults can relax in the little garden and enjoy the sea views, or make their way across to the shingle beach. There are two little towers (known as the Duke's Candlesticks) on the top of the hill above the cove, which would make a good destination for an evening stroll.
But being so conveniently placed for the A9, there are endless opportunities for exploring here. Helmsdale, (all facilities) is a delightful little town and it is here that you will probably do essential shopping. Further to the south are the towns of Brora (visit the famous Clynleish distillery) and Golspie (25m). Just before Golspie is famous Dunrobin Castle, home of the Dukes of Sutherland for many generations and familiar from many a calendar picture, and with lots of activities and interests besides the castle itself. There are sandy beaches there too, but for endless stretches of sand, a Championship golf course, and a charming cathedral town, (which also has some great eating places) you cannot do better than Dornoch.
Or if the north beckons, then you are equally well placed for John o'Groats (42m), Dunnet Head, the Duncansby Stacks and the tip of the Scottish mainland. From nearby Thurso, or Gill's Bay, there are ferries across to Orkney, or you may prefer to wend your way along the northernmost coast, perhaps making a round trip and returning via Kinbrace or even Altnaharra ( famous for being the coldest place in the country in the dread winter of 2010!) You could even head for the northwest and the wondrous scenery of Assynt and north west Sutherland. Ullapool is less than 2.5 hours away.
Inland, there is excellent trout fishing both on the Caithness lochs of Watten, Heilan, and St Johns, to name but a few, and the Sutherland lochs like Badanloch (full details of contacts for boat hire and bank permits will be available in the cottage). There are plenty of opportunities for walking in Sutherland and the two most northerly Munros (Ben Kilbreck and Ben Hope) are within a 1.5hr drive. Excellent mountain biking facilities are available near Golspie. The ingredients for a great holiday are all firmly in place at Berriedale Beach House!
Bedlinen, towels, oil-CH and electricity are all included. One well behaved pet is welcome by arrangement, but should not be allowed on any carpeted area. Wi-Fi is available, subject to provider, but speed will be variable and slow by city standards at least!. Sorry, no smoking in the cottage.
Accommodation (sleeps 5):
- Sitting room with wood burning stove, TV/DVD and CD player
- Dining/Kitchen with fridge/freezer, washing machine, tumble drier, microwave etc
- WC with wash hand basin
- Single Bedroom
- Double Bedroom
- Twin Bedroom (converts to double)
- Bathroom with bath, seperate shower, WC and wash hand basin