Snug in the Heart of Wester Ross

by Keith Savage

Corriness House, Poolewe, Wester Ross, Scotland

The beauty of Wester Ross cannot be shackled by language. It must be viewed. And in that great Scottish wilderness of mountain and sea loch you gather a sense of what the most northerly parts of this island must have looked like in days of yore. There is much to explore here, many narrow roads to follow, empty beaches to kick across, and heather-shrouded hills to ascend. All you need is some time and a decent base from which to venture out. The towns of Gairloch and Poolewe serve admirably in this regard. Gairloch, the larger of the two, is beautifully situated on Gairloch Bay while Poolewe hugs the River Ewe as it flows into Loch Ewe. I spent a pair of nights at the homey Corriness House on the edge of Poolewe this past summer, and it was a great location from which to explore the heart of Wester Ross.

Corriness House lies just a walk from the center of tiny Poolewe on the main A832 road running along the coast of Wester Ross between Gairloch and Dundonnell. It is a handsome Victorian house with a pretty garden and dedicated car park, and we had no trouble finding it at the end of our drive from Grantown-on-Spey. After a brief greeting we were led upstairs to the house’s four bedrooms to offload our luggage. The house was spotless, a reminder that the rooms were recently extensively renovated.

Our bedroom was quite spacious with two double beds, sturdy armoire and dresser, and sitting area with tea and shortbread. A large window looked over the road and allowed an astonishing amount of light in. Another, smaller window opened on the wall with the beds to allow cross ventilation. The furnishings were all quality and the linens and quilts still had an air of newness about them, a nice feature for any traveler. The en-suite bathroom was fairly standard and lacked a window, but it was completely serviceable for our needs.

Breakfast was served in a small dining room replete with continental spread. I ordered the Scottish breakfast both mornings and found it to be good, though I’m a little picky with my black pudding and found this particular variety not to my liking. While the addition of beans to a cooked breakfast is more English than Scottish it’s not uncommon anywhere in Scotland. The food was served hot and the breakfast set me up well for the days ahead without stuffing me into a food coma.

A couple things would have made the stay even nicer. Corriness House doesn’t have a common room, which made hanging out with my parents a little tricksy. We wound up relaxing in the breakfast room in the evenings just to be together but also to use the wifi, which was spotty in the rooms upstairs. Second, and this is true of many older homes (if not all) in Britain, it is against code to have an outlet in the bathroom. When that’s coupled with sparse outlets in the bedroom, getting ready in the morning can be inconvenient (especially for those who need to use hair dryers and curling irons).

As we were packing up and getting ready to head on to the Torridon Hotel, we met the regional fish seller restocking Corriness House. Look at the fresh goods in the back of that van! Just a reminder to eat up the excellent, fresh seafood in this part of Scotland.

All in all we had a very comfortable stay at Corriness House. It made a really good base in the heart of Wester Ross, and it was a good value by comparison to many of the other nearby accommodation options.

A return to this part of Scotland is always on my mind. Have you been to Wester Ross? How did you like it?

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