Squirreled Away on Black Isle

by Keith Savage · 5 comments


The Red Kite House on the Rosehaugh Estate Outside Avoch, Black Isle, Scotland

A travel around Scotland lends itself well to a circular route that has Edinburgh and Glasgow at its southernmost points and Inverness at its northernmost point. It was a route I adhered to (barring the occasional visit to Orkney) on my first five trips to Scotland, so when I planned my sixth trip last spring I wanted (and needed) to step off that well-worn path.

I decided to skip Inverness and head for Black Isle instead. In Ian Rankin’s famous words, it’s neither black nor an isle; it’s actually a rather green and pastoral peninsula just across the bridge from Inverness. Black Isle is full of charming, small coastal towns as if it were the northern cousin of Fife’s East Neuk. After much perusal of our accommodation options, Sarah and I decided to stay just outside Avoch (pronounced Och, rhymes with loch) on the Rosehaugh Estate, thanks to our friends at HomeAway.

Rosehaugh, previously known a Pittanochtie, was a large family estate with an incredible mansion and other outbuildings dating back to the 18th century. The history is rich and fascinating. Sadly, after several inheritances and ultimately a sell off of property, the magnificent 19th-century “house” was demolished in 1959. More than four decades later, the remaining buildings on the Rosehaugh Estate have been converted into self-catering rentals, to stunning effect.

We chose the Red Squirrel Apartment, which occupies the top floor of Red Kite House (Osprey Apartment takes up the ground floor). Turning off the A832, we passed a couple of fancy plinths marking the entrance to Rosehaugh and followed a gravel path over streams and through sun-dappled woods. We saw a couple of buildings on the leisurely five-minute drive through the grounds to the secluded Red Kite House, tucked along the edge of woods behind a farm field, but the estate was mostly empty save for the road and some signs.

The house, which once served as a laundry, is built of solid stone with a unique angled red roof. We could tell this was a winner before even setting foot inside. After spending so much time at various accommodations throughout Scotland, I’ve started to develop a sixth sense about what will gel with me. Red Squirrel and me? Yeah, lots of gelling.

We hustled into a foyer laden with books about the local area and headed up the staircase to our apartment. A narrow hallway provided access to all of the apartment’s rooms.

The main room and kitchen use an open concept that makes for a luxurious centerpiece to the apartment. Windows on three walls bring in loads of light and provide great views of the grounds. We must have spent a good hour watching Roe deer eating in the fields one morning. Hardwood floors, a peaked ceiling, and high-end appliances, a breakfast table and window seat, and plush leather couch and flat screen TV finish this massive room. The apple-cinnamon cream cheese muffins in the welcome basket we found on the counter did not last long.

After crossing the short hall to the master bedroom, we found another bright room with sturdy wooden furniture that looked brand new. I spent far too much time sleeping on the uber-comfortable king-size bed, though the room was also perfect for reading with a comfy window seat and side chair.

The master bathroom is snug beneath the angled roof replete with a large skylight. Hot water and high water pressure, two things I take for granted at home, were in abundance here. Sarah was very happy.

Red Squirrel Apartment's Master Bathroom

The guest bedroom came with two twin beds and more of the warm paint and bright windows. We didn’t use this room, but it made it clear that Red Squirrel Apartment would be perfect for a small family or up to four people traveling together.

There was something very cozy about Red Squirrel Apartment. Maybe it was being on the top floor with the angled roof that made it feel like a really luxurious tree fort. Whatever the case, we didn’t want to leave. Making breakfast and enjoying tea while watching deer in the field is the kind of experience that makes Red Squirrel Apartment and the Rosehaugh Estate a destination in itself. Unfortunately, at the time of our stay Red Squirrel didn’t have internet, but the housekeeper kindly offered up her internet connection at the house just down the track. Shockingly, I didn’t really miss it.

The Rosehaugh estate has other self-catering properties as well, including The Boat House and The Otter Lodge. Both looked amazing from the outside. We finished our stay with a ramble around the grounds and through the woods. I secretly hoped we’d get lost.

Disclosure: HomeAway provided me with a three-night stay at Red Squirrel Apartment. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.


CharuNo Gravatar January 28, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Oh sign me up! Scotland is a place I would love to spend more time in…the last I remember was a brief visit to Glasgow. Often, Matt and I will escape to the Catskills in our backyard to just breathe the country air and be at peace. It’s a mellowness that I subscribe to on a daily basis. Thanks for the detailed post and pictures. I will keep Black Isle in mind…

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 28, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Most of Scotland is pastoral and peaceful with hints of its turbulent past bubbling beneath the surface. It all makes for a palpable feeling in the air throughout the country.

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JoAnnaNo Gravatar January 25, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Super cute accommodations! I could definitely stay here!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 25, 2012 at 2:28 PM

We loved it – it was really perfect for a couple of nature-loving travelers.

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KenNo Gravatar January 23, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Beautiful views of the accommodations! It looks like a great place, as you noted, for a family enjoying Scotland.

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