How we found our bed and breakfast in Lairg or to be more exact Altass started about 16 years ago when my husband Dave and I decided to find a new adventure in the Scottish Highlands. We travelled around the counties of Caithness, Sutherland and various other areas, though mainly in the Highlands.
Over the years we stayed in a variety of accommodation in the Highlands ranging from small hotels, self-catering and bed and breakfasts. It was important to us that find the right area and place for us to start our new life.
Then one day we decided to go for it and make the move to Sutherland, so we left Cornwall and headed for the Highlands. As we were getting closer the area around us was breathtaking; the water flowing down the hillsides and the mountains was mesmerising, we felt at home. We arrived at the large welcome to Sutherland sign at Ardgay and from there on little did we know that this was going to be a place we would never forget.
We decided to stay in self-catering accommodation in Lairg to get to know the place better. Lairg is centrally located in Sutherland it used to be known as the “Crossroads of the North”. It also has a railway station with links to Inverness in the south and Thurso and Wick in the north. Lairg has many interesting things, for example, it has the largest single-day sheep sales in Europe and brings people from all over Scotland. We began to learn so many facts about Lairg whilst we were there!
To the north of Lairg, there lies Loch Shin, a beautiful Loch which is 17 miles long and is the largest loch in Sutherland. Another place we came across was Lairg’s tourist and visitors centre known as the Ferrycroft. It’s a heritage centre with displays and provides experiences for all ages and has a great section on the history and bygone days. They had a great selection of accommodation from campsites, to B and B’s to hotels plus details on various places to eat and so much more. A great place to visit.
Of all the places we had visited Lairg was one of my favourite areas, that was when we realised our dream search for a bed and breakfast was definitely over. That said though we did a lot more travelling to the far North, East and West because we wanted to be 100 percent certain on where we were going to settle. However, Sutherland had captured our hearts and wouldn’t let go!
So the decision was made our property in Cornwall was sold and we were lucky enough to have time to come back to stay in a beautiful holiday let in Altass, ten miles from Lairg. We viewed several properties on the market but finding them in this beautiful countryside was not always easy. We eventually found a house that we fell in love with as soon as we saw where it was. It had views to the hillside and the River Kyle; it was in Altass which lies between Lairg and Bonar Bridge.
For us, this was our little hidden gem. You had a local hotel which serves great food, local tearooms and shops what more could you want! We were also close to Shin Falls where you could watch the Salmon leaping. I remember the first one I ever saw jump was something that will always stay with me forever. Altass is surrounded by trails and walks Rosehall Trails and Ravens Rock Gorge are just a few minutes away by car.
This was it, we had found our dream house which, with a little bit of work, became our new adventure…… Woodburn Lodge bed and breakfast, Altass near Lairg IV274EU I still say that to myself sometimes just to remind myself that I’m living the dream and not dreaming!
From all the downstairs rooms of our Bed and Breakfast, you can see the open countryside with beautiful pine trees and the River Kyle. In the evenings you can often see deer feeding at the bottom of our fields. From the front of the B and B, you can see a beautiful large Rowan tree which has bird feeders on it for all the wild birds, which I will talk about in a later post, they are amazing! We have an abundance of wildlife, including numerous birds of prey and occasionally a red squirrel pops onto the feeders.
So while I’m cooking the guests either a traditional cooked breakfast or making an omelette or indeed any of the many breakfasts we provide I can see the Rowan tree out of the window. I sometimes have to pinch myself as it is surreal experience cooking breakfast and catching glimpses of the various inhabitants of the Rowan Tree. After the guests are settled I sit in my kitchen/diner with my cup of tea and look out of the window there and I can see our duck pond with its resident Muscovy Ducks and the hills beyond.
Our guests also love to visit Glencassley, which is a short drive away; it is a prime fishing spot on the River Cassley where people fish for salmon. Glencassley castle is hidden in the trees but the rugged river that flows right along the trail and the birds of prey, especially the Osprey, in the summertime have made this one of my favourite spots.
I know we searched for our dream bed and breakfast location for a long time but thanks to our great holidays and all our time spent in Sutherland we found our home. I still, very often, want to pinch myself for the reassurance that this stunning and tranquil place is where I live.
I dare anyone to visit here and not fall in love with the places and the surrounding beauty of the Scottish Highlands!