Tigh na Mara Cottage
The name means 'the place by the sea' and this delightful, traditional little cottage is just a couple of hundred yards from the coast of Sutherland, which is about as far north as you can go in mainland Scotland without dropping off the end!
Peacefully situated near the little village of Skerray (Post Office with some basic foodstuffs and crafts) it nestles between the little single-track road and the hillside. Much loved by its owners, it has been renovated in a charmingly simple style to retain some of its traditional features.
There is an open fire in the sitting room, for example, and the old range (non-operational) remains most decoratively in the kitchen-diner. The two bedrooms upstairs have coombed ceilings. There is an additional sun room with a fine sea view so you can fully appreciate your surroundings even when the weather is less than baking hot.
Tigh na Mara is the perfect place for those who really would like to get away from the humdrum routine of their daily lives and some of the intrusive trappings of modern living. There is no television or telephone (mobile reception at the harbour!) and a limited number of radio stations are available. All these you can have at home. Here, you get something completely different: the stunning, mostly deserted Torrisdale Beach, for example, within a short drive of the cottage or a glorious walk along the cliffs and moorland. The Singing Stone beside it, where the wind from the beach plays a symphony on the stone. You can pick mussels at low tide at the mouth of the Borgie or take your kayak and paddle down the Naver, then surf the breakers along the beach.
Further afield, you can drive along to Durness where the Smoo Cave, a 200 foot long natural wonder, carved by the sea and the burn which flows through it, should not be missed. Then take the foot ferry from Keoldale across the Kyle of Durness to where, from May to September, a minibus will take you to Cape Wrath, which really is the last outpost of the mainland. The area boasts the highest sea cliffs in Britain, home to myriad seabirds. There is also a 9-hole golf course at Durness which must be one of the scenically beautiful in Scotland.
The hinterland was subject to some of the most vicious of the Highland Clearances, and remains sparsely populated to this day. To the west and south, there are rugged mountains, the best known of which, for those who prefer a more strenuous day out, are Ben Hope, Ben Loyal, Foinavon and Arkle. To the east, there are the lochs and lonely moorland of the Flow Country.
The Borgie Hotel (bar meals) is 2 miles from the cottage past Torrisdale beach. Eastwards from the cottage, Bettyhill (5m) has a community swimming pool and fitness centre, surgery, laundrette, grocery store and petrol. The nearest town of any size is Thurso (35m). While there, you can continue on to John O'Groats and even cross in the foot ferry to Orkney.
Heating is by electricity (first £15 included) and open fire (starter pack of coal included - more available for purchase). Bed linen is included and towels may be hired. One well behaved pet is welcome by arrangement. Sorry, no smoking within the cottage.
Accommodation (sleeps 4):
- Sitting room with open fire
- Kitchen-diner with electric cooker, washing machine, fridge-freezer and microwave
- Sun room
- Bathroom with bath and wash basin and separate WC
- Double bedroom
- Twin bedroom