Category Archives: General Information

7 Places You Won’t Believe Are in Scotland!

Scotland is known for its beautiful lochs, rolling hills and imposing mountains but there may well be some other sights that are surprising to come across on a visit here but should definitely be on your ‘must see’ list.

you-wont-believe-blog-post-clachtoll-beach

1. Clachtoll beach near Lochinver

This gorgeous beach wouldn’t look out of place in the Mediterranean so visitors may well be surprised to find it on the west coast of Scotland! Set in a secluded spot on Sutherland’s Assynt peninsula that juts out into the sea, it takes about 40 minutes to walk to but is definitely well worth the effort.

As the area benefits from the warming effects of the Gulf Stream a mild microclimate is created that is ideal for spending time exploring the sands. The local sheep can often be seen wandering on the beach and they seem to like it just as much as the human sightseers!

you-wont-believe-blog-post-taigh-na-fraoch
Taigh Na Fraoch near Clashnessie, Sutherland

At Taigh Na Fraoch all the home comforts you can wish for can be found. Its enclosed grassed garden is great for children and pets to run and play in freely. As well as being in easy reach of Clachtoll (only 5 minutes’ drive away), the house is just a short walk from another beautiful beach at Clashnessie Bay so there is a choice of places to enjoy the seaside.

you-wont-believe-blog-post-quiraing

2. Quiraing on The Isle of Skye

The Quiraing is an unusual land rock formation that lies on the Trotternish peninsula of Skye, one of four peninsulas radiating out from the centre of the island that are said to look like fingers. A walk up to see it in all its glory is an absolute must, although a good view of some of it can be seen from the road.

Its grassy landscape looks like something from a different planet and in fact it has been used as a filming location in several box office hits. In the partly animated BFG film it was used to represent Giant’s Land and it appeared again in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword that was directed by Guy Ritchie. The Bealach Na Ba pass on the Applecross peninsula was also used in the film, as was the imposing Old Man of Storr.

Two Bay Cottage near Dunvegan, Isle of Skye

Two Bay Cottage is set on the Waternish peninsula of Skye so it is roughly an hour’s drive over to the Trotternish ridge where the Quiraing sits. Inside the accommodation is comfortable and homely, sleeping up to 4 people in two double bedrooms (making it ideal for couples looking to holiday together). The garden looks out towards Loch Bay and on a good day you can even see as far over as the Western Isles.

you-wont-believe-blog-post-goat-fell

3. Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran, off the west coast of Scotland, is known as ‘Scotland in miniature’ due to its varied landscape that is reminiscent of many parts of mainland Scotland. Ferries run over to the island from Ardrossan on the North Ayrshire coast, taking approximately 45 minutes, and on arrival into Brodick it is hard not to notice Goat Fell rising up to the north.

Goat Fell is the highest peak on Arran that dominates the landscape of the island and will surely entice hill climbers to give it a go. A walking route leads up the mountain from Brodick Castle and it takes about 5 hours to climb up and back with sturdy footwear and appropriate clothing being definite requirements.

you-wont-believe-blog-post-waverley
Waverley at Whiting Bay, Isle of Arran

Looking out over Whiting Bay near Lamlash, 8 miles from where the ferry docks, is Waverley. This spacious house sleeps up to 5 people and is bright and airy throughout with a conservatory to the front where the sea view can be enjoyed whatever the weather. The shore is just across the road from the house and, when the tide goes out, a lovely sandy beach is revealed.

you-wont-believe-blog-post-falls-clyde

4. Falls of Clyde near Lanark

Set on the River Clyde near Lanark are the Falls of Clyde, the collective name for a set of four remarkable waterfalls. A pleasant riverside walk from New Lanark leads up to the falls that are particularly impressive after heavy rainfall and various viewing platforms have been set up at the points with the best views.

The area around the falls is actually a wildlife reserve where badger watching evenings are held, giving visitors the chance to spot these elusive creatures in their natural habitat. Bats and peregrines can also be seen and if you time your visit right (aiming for May and early June) you may even manage to see some badger cubs that are incredibly cute.

Windgill Cottage near Biggar, Lanarkshire

Pretty Windgill Cottage is set in the rolling countryside just on the edge of the Clyde Valley, just over half an hour’s drive from the falls. There is excellent walking straight from the front door and fishing can be arranged on the River Clyde itself.

Sleeping up to 4 people in a double and a twin bedroom and welcoming up to 2 dogs it offers great peace and seclusion and is yet in easy reach of Glasgow for day trips to the city.

5. Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris

With its charming white sands and sparkling turquoise waters it is not surprising that Luskentyre beach has been named as the ‘best beach in Scotland’ by several different publications. Situated to the west of South Harris it is just one of the many stunning beaches that can be found in the Outer Hebrides.

Harris and Lewis are not separate islands but are actually parts of the same island. It is reached by ferry in under 2 hours from Uig on Skye so it is easier to access than one might first think when hearing the words Outer Hebrides.

you-wont-believe-blog-post-sgeir-a-chais
Sgeir a’Chais at Loch Grosebay, Isle of Harris

Sgeir a’Chais is the perfect base from which to visit the beach and explore the rest of the island, safe in the knowledge that you have a cosy, welcoming retreat to return to at the end of the day. This traditional bothy has a solid fuel stove at its heart and even has an added extra in the form of a superb sauna with pretty loch views to admire as you relax.

6. Kilt Rock on the Isle of Skye

This attraction on the Trotternish peninsula of the Isle of Skye gets its name from its columns of basalt that tower from the water and are said to resemble the pattern of a kilt. The Mealt Falls flow down the rock and it is all a pretty impressive sight to see. It can really be appreciated best from the water and there are various boat trips that run out to allow visitors a much closer look.

Mealt Falls from Afar…

If you choose to visit by car there is car park just by the viewpoint and the cliffs have been fenced off for safety and peace of mind. To really set the scene there is often a bagpiper there which makes for the ideal photo opportunity.

7. Skara Brae on mainland Orkney

This prehistoric village, that sits on the coast just off the Bay of Skaill on the mainland of the Orkney Isles, dates all the way back to the Neolithic era. It lay covered by sand for an estimated 4,000 years before being partly exposed by storms and then later excavated.

It is fascinating to picture the people who once lived in the village’s dwellings that have been remarkably well preserved since their discovery. It is easy to tell why it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status as part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney group of monuments back in 1999.

Bay Cottage near Stromness, Orkney

Bay Cottage at Skara Brae is just down the road from this wonderful historic sight and is actually in easy walking distance of it. The cottage sleeps up to 4 people in a double and a twin bedroom (that can be converted to a king-size bed for extra flexibility. It is also only a short stroll from a gorgeous sandy beach where time can be spent exploring or just enjoying the picturesque surroundings.

These are merely a tiny selection of the amazing sights that Scotland has to offer. Visit our website or call our friendly booking team on 01835 822277 to book your perfect stay.

Inside Information from the Unique Cottages Inspectors

Welcome to Scotland!

Well, it’s official. The Scottish have always had a reputation for being welcoming and now a Cambridge University study has labelled us the friendliest people in Britain!

So with stunning scenery, amazing wildlife, delicious food and drink, activities galore and the best welcome in Britain – what better place to come for a break?

Of course you’ll need somewhere fabulous to stay while you’re here and that’s where we come in with our collection of beautiful cottages of all shapes and sizes. We’ve spent years searching the length and breadth of Scotland for the best holiday cottages, most of which are exclusive to us.

blog-island-house-externalWhy not watch the sun go down on the beautiful island of Tiree surrounded by friends and family? Island House is a charming lochside property that can sleep up to 15 people so is perfect for get-together getaways. It can take two dogs as well so your furry friends don’t have to miss out on all the fun. We have a wide selection of other dog friendly properties, but more on that in a future blog…

blog-corglass-cottage-externalYou will find one of our lovely ‘cottages-for-two’ tucked amongst the hills of Strathspey, less than an hour’s drive from Inverness airport. Corglass Cottage is a delightful Highland hideaway with stunning uninterrupted views from large picture windows in every room. You can even enjoy a magnificent panorama of the Glenarder valley from the bath.

blog-killiecrankie-lodgeIf you fancy hiding out in a log cabin in the woods, then Killiecrankie Lodge, set deep in the Perthshire countryside could be perfect for you. It has a picturesque garden stream, decking and an enclosed garden. With a location close to the pretty town of Pitlochry, there are lots of activities for families or couples to enjoy.

Or how about this stunning property on the shores of one of the most photographed lochs in Scotland? Achnacarran Boathouse on Loch Awe in Argyll is architect-designed, expertly furnished and has a private pier, slipway and fishing rights. blog-achnacarron-boathouse-upstairsThe house has views to die for particularly from the upstairs sitting room, and there is an abundance of wildlife nearby including deer, pine martin, red squirrel, otters, barn owls and osprey so you can experience Scotland’s outdoors in all its glory.

We have hundreds of beautiful properties to choose from and add new properties to our portfolio on a regular basis, so why not follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or sign-up to our e-newsletter to make sure you receive all the latest news and suggestions on where to take your next break.

Our cottages have rolled out their welcome mats and are ready to give visitors Scotland’s famous warm welcome, so all you need to do is visit our website or give us a call on 01835 822227 to start your search for the perfect cottage and perfect holiday.

Monster-hunting Holidays!

Scotland is a land of legends, from kelpies (water-horses) to faeries and giants to selkies (seal-folk); there are no shortage of stories about supernatural creatures which thrived in the wild and untamed Scottish landscape in times gone by. Possibly the most famous of all these beings is Nessitera rhombopteryx who some believe still resides in the one of Scotland’s largest, deepest, fresh water lochs, right in the heart of the Highlands.

Famous? Then why haven’t you heard about this legendary entity?

Ah, but you have, possibly by one of her other, more common, names. For the creature of which I speak is the notorious Loch Ness Monster, more affectionately referred to as Nessie!
The first recorded sighting of a monster living in the area of Loch Ness was over 15 hundred years ago, when Irish monk St Columba was visiting the Pictish shores. After having sent one of his followers into the water to attract the ‘water beast’ he demonstrated the power of his God by commanding the creature to break off his attack and caused it to flee in terror!

The first ever picture of the Loch Ness Monster?Fast forwarding to the beginning of the 20th century, further interest was sparked when George Spicer and his wife saw what they described as ‘a most extraordinary animal’ cross the road in front of their car and disappear into the Loch. The sighting lead to numerous ‘hunting’ parties visiting the loch over the following few years determined to catch the monster ‘dead or alive’. It was at this time that the well known ‘Surgeons photograph’ was taken, which has now been exposed as a hoax. However in 1938 a South African tourist called G. E. Taylor made a 3 minute recording on 16mm colour film of the elusive creature, and although only a single frame was ever made publicly available, experts have said that it is ‘positive evidence’ of Nessie’s existence.

In 1943 the monster was seen again by C. B. Farrel of the Royal Observer Corps as he carried out his duties on the Loch. He described a finned creature with large eyes and a neck that protruded 4-5 feet out of the waters. 11 years later, the crew of a fishing boat called the Rival III reported sonar readings of a large object at a depth of 480 feet keeping pace with them for approximately half a mile as they sailed across the loch.

What lies beneath the tranquil waters of Loch Ness? (photo courtesy of conner395)In 1960 the monster was again caught on film by Tim Dinsdale, which, when digitally enhanced in 1993, showed a creature with rear flippers and a plesiosaur-like body (plesiosaurs were carnivorous aquatic reptiles which lived at the end of the Triassic Period). Sceptics have said that due to the poor quality of the film, these features could have been created by tricks of the light as it reflected on the water, but no one really knows.

Just 4 years ago the monster appeared on film again, when Gordon Holmes videoed a jet black ‘thing’, about 45 feet long, moving quickly through the loch waters, but because the footage did not include anything which could be used as a scale comparison, once again it can not be classed as definitive proof.

A visit to the Loch Ness Monster Visitor Centre in Drumnadrochit ensures you a sighting of the beast! (photo courtesy of n.hewson)So, the legend remains just that!  There is no undisputed verification of the existence of a monster living in the waters of Loch Ness, but then again, there is no sure proof that there is not! Perhaps, sometime soon, someone will get the evidence that Nessie isn’t just a myth or tale, but rather another example of how the unique, unspoilt landscape of Scotland supports species that have been long extinct elsewhere.

If you fancy taking on the challenge and take part in a bit of Nessie spotting then Unique Cottages has a selection of cottages close to Loch Ness, including two where you can actually see a great length of the loch from the window!

See cottages near Loch Ness >

Great News!

For all those already signed up to receive the Unique Cottages’ Newsletter I’m pleased to say that the April-May issue should have arrived in your inbox this week – we hope you enjoy!

Our bi-monthly e-newsletter has now been electronically whizzing its way to our customers in its current format for over a year and readership continues to grow.  If you aren’t already signed up to receive your copy of this valuable resource then let me tell you a wee bit about it.

Unlike many of the other newsletters distributed by our competitors, we don’t try to sell you anything or go into the boring details of changes within the business, we just share with you our specialist knowledge of Scotland in the hope that it will help you enjoy your holiday in Scotland even more!

We are based in Scotland, focus only on self-catering properties in Scotland and by doing this for over 40 years we have built up quite a repertoire of useful and interesting information well worth sharing with you.  The 6th issue of ‘Unique and Unspoilt’ is once again full of articles which let you in on some of the best of our exclusive knowledge of Scotland, giving you an inside track on how to get the most out of your holiday to our beautiful land.

However, it’s not just we who contribute to the Newsletter.  In fact, we have a talented guest who was staying in one of our cottages near Loch Sunart to thank for one of the most stunning pictures in this issue, a photo that is testament to the beauty which surrounds you when you visit Scotland!

Whether you’re a regular visitor to our fine shores, thinking about holidaying here or just have interest in what the country has to offer, then why not subscribe to ‘Unique and Unspoilt’ which every two months will arrive in your inbox bursting with details of the delights of Scotland?

Here at Unique Cottages we are always grateful of any comments or suggestions from our customers and if you have any ideas for articles for the ‘Unique and Unspoilt’ Newsletter then please get in touch.

Bathed in Glory!

Here in Scotland we have enjoyed a fabulous week weather wise. In fact, on Monday Aberdeen was reported as having the highest temperatures in Britain and hotter than many well know sunny holiday spots including Ibiza, Majorca and Malaga! The bright sunshine and warm weather seems to have a greatly uplifting effect on people, and here in the Unique Cottages’ office we are no different. Even Laura, (one of dedicated booking office staff) who has been faithfully attached to her coat all winter, has left it at home every day this week – a real indication of how lovely it has been in Scotland!

As the weather improves, and the sun brightens everyone’s mood, thoughts turn to opportunities to enjoy these glorious conditions by getting out and about. When the weather is good, and the sun is beating down, the seaside always has an almost magnetic allure for a great deal of people. Although it may not yet be quite warm enough to bathe in the sea, it’s definitely getting to around the time you might be thinking about the pleasures of doing so in the summer! But, where do you go to find a fabulous beach? This morning, when I was watching the news, I was informed that the Environment Agency has just published an online guide to beaches in England and Wales that have been found to meet the European Standard which determine that the water is safe to swim in.

In England and Wales, out of the 500 beaches included in the report on the quality of coastal bathing water, 449 were passed as safe, an inspiring 89%! However, when I looked at the same statistics in Scotland I saw that we get an even more impressive figure of 95%, (and yes, I realise we’re a little biased) making Scotland appear to be your best bet for finding good quality beaches for swimming! But where in Scotland are the best beaches? Let us share some of our insider knowledge with you and tell you about a few of our favourites.

Tralee Beach is our Property Manager Eelin’s recommendation. On the west coast of Scotland, over-looking the Ardmucknish Bay, this fine beach is ideal for families, with its soft sand and multitude of interesting rock pools it provides a great space for all ages to explore.

I fondly remember Coldingham Beach, where I have enjoyed breakfast cooked on the barbeque while watching the waves break gently on the sandy shore. Another great beach for rock pools and with a lifeguard on duty at the weekends during the summer, its not just me who is tempted into the inviting sea waters!

These are just a taster of the many beautiful beaches that await you in Scotland, but we have so many it would be impossible to list them all. I’m sure you’ll understand if we don’t tell you about some of the better hidden ones – for one of the greatest thing about our beaches here in Scotland is that often you can come across a secluded wee area of sand and have your own private beach for the day!

5 things you might not know…

As the readership of “Our Unique Blog” continues to rise, it occurred to me that we’ve never really taken the time to let you get to know Unique Cottages a wee bit better. So, in an attempt to address this, I’ve put together –
“5 things you might not know about Unique Cottages
1)We’re completely Scottish!
First established in Scotland, based in Scotland and only letting cottages in Scotland, you can rest assured that we know this fine land and how to help you get the best out of your stay here.
2)We’ve been around for a good while.
Since 1994, long before the days of the internet and our website which launched in 1993, we have produced a quality brochure full of unique properties in the best locations in Scotland.
3)We’ve got a lot of experience
Jill Bristow, the founder and Senior Director of Unique Cottages has over 40 years of experience letting holiday properties and ensures that the knowledge she has gained over the years is used to benefit all guest who book with us.
4)We’re small enough to care.
Our dedicated team of booking office staff have an in-depth knowledge of our properties and if they can’t answer your question about a cottage then they’ll be happy to find out the answer for you.
5)We turn down more properties than we take on.
Our commitment to bringing you well situated, beautiful and unique properties means that we only take on properties that we feel meet our exacting standards.
Whether you’ve booked with us before, learnt about us through a friend or accidently stumbled across us in an internet search, one thing you can be sure of is that we’re glad you found us and look forward to helping you find your ideal, unique Scottish escape.