Over 800 miles in 3 days…. Some of the most spectacular driving in the World. This week, Countryside Store on Tour goes to the Scottish Highlands.
As is always the case, the team meets for a brew to plan the 3 day trip – this time, Mansgill Farm Shop on the A66. Mansgill is most often known as ‘the farm shop with the camels’, which can be seen from the main carriageway. The shop itself is located on a working farm, with a wide range of animals, a play area, café and a very impressive shop selling high quality locally sourced food, drink and gifts. A family-friendly stop-off point that can be highly recommended by the team.
Day 1 will consist of mainly driving, although it’s early and the team are famed for ‘cracking on’. Only 2 shortstops are scheduled. The first, John Norris of Penrith. A country and fishing supplies shop that sells fishing tackle and the second a fuel stop at the ESSO garage just after Glasgow and before getting onto the twisty Scottish roads. For anyone driving large 4×4’s, this is the last premium quality diesel available without going into the likes of Oban, Fort William or Dunoon.
The first leg was 290 miles from home to Inveraray, a town in Argyll and Bute. A firm favourite with the team, the town is situated on the shore of Loch Fyne and is the ancestral home to the Duke of Argyll. The town itself is small but full of very interesting independent shops, a castle and Inveraray jail. Both attractions are worth taking time out to explore… but, the team on tour are on a tight schedule.
The 15 miles or so approach to the shores of Loch Fyne are nothing short of breathtaking…. To the point of slowing the team’s speed to a snails pace. Worth every second…. We drove through the inviting town of Inveraray and on to the Loch Fyne Hotel, a 15 minute walk out of town but still on the banks of the loch. The hotel itself is comfortable, with a nice bar, spa and swimming pool. From previous stays, we know the food is good, especially the full Scottish breakfast and the staff are all friendly. A recommended stop off on any Scottish trip as far as we are concerned. With bags dropped, the team were straight back out on the road to the pretty fishing village of Tarbert which is only a short drive down the A83. Here, we fished until teatime.
Two of the most notable eateries in Inveraray is a quaint little fish restaurant named Samphire, tonight we fancied a steak and a beer though… so we dined at the George. We weren’t disappointed… anyone looking for ‘proper pub grub’ with a good hint of elegance – this is the place to eat. The George isn’t just a Pub, it’s a Hotel that dates back to 1860, The George will definitely be put on a future tour accommodation list!
The next morning, after our delicious Loch Fyne Hotel breakfast we hit the road again, this time – an enjoyable 90 mile drive directly to Salen but with a very short ferry crossing at Corran. Salen is a small village on the banks of Loch Sunart. The village has a secret though…. A well run, friendly and very smart little hotel simply named the Salen Hotel. The team fell across this little gem accidentally a few years ago. Comfortable rooms, nice bar, very good home-cooked food. This is a ‘home from home’ type of place and very much up our street.
Once bags were dropped the team was lucky enough to go out sea fishing – an amazing experience with an excellent crew. Not much caught but the experience was phenomenal. After sea fishing, the team went for a good old fashioned hill walk – we all agreed that the next Highland trip must include shooting and/or stalking.
Back to the Salen Hotel, excellent beer, proper home-cooked food, a good night’s sleep knowing that the following day would involve a lot of driving.
Day 3 started with a drive down the road to Glen Coe, spectacular views, we took time out to appreciate them. We wanted to have a brew and cake, but honestly…. The only place worth visiting that we could find was the surprisingly well-stocked and very friendly petrol station….!
The Team did take a little detour on the way home, we dropped down a sideroad from Bridge of Orchy to Dalmally which is located just off Loch Awe to see some phenomenal waterfalls.
The Countryside Store Team on Tour then got their heads down and drove non stop back to Wetherby in Yorkshire, only a few miles from HQ. Where… the team tucked into a well deserved Wetherby Whaler fish and chip supper!
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