A traditional Highland home near Skye welcomes you

Bac na beàrn is a traditional old Highland home, stone built, slate roofed, with double glazing and full central heating. It’s warm, comfortable, unfussy and relaxed. It's a great base to experience the seas, mountains & wildlife of this unique and outstandingly beautiful part of Scotland, including the Isle of Skye.

Family house
With stunning views down the Sound of Sleat to the south west Bac na beàrn has an outstanding location. Just across Glenelg Bay is the Isle of Skye with the ferry crossing from Glenelg to Kylerhea around a mile from the house. To the south west there's the Skye areas of Isle Ornsay and Armadale and on the mainland Sandaig and the mouth of Loch Hourn.

Note the phrase “family house”. It’s not been tarted up with stuff like wet rooms or a pool to lounge by. You're in the Highlands, the sea is only a few hundred metres away and there's a decent-sized garden. There's an old and now deceased Rayburn in the kitchen and an old, disused caravan in the garden which need to be removed. There’s irregularity in the dining room floor which needs attention and which results in grit accumulating in the window bay (it’s on the list for action!). A couple of carpets are rather worn, the dining room chairs need reseating, and some painting needs redoing and freshening.

In short, if you’re looking for an aseptic, soulless, tarted up and squeaky clean holiday unit with fully matching cutlery then this is not for you. But if the character and feel and history of a house appeals to you you’ll enjoy being part of that here. Centenarian plus though she now is, Bac na beàrn is a living family holiday home, comfortably part of the natural landscape. Not perfect, but then who is?

The space
Stand in the garden of Bac na beàrn on a bright, clear day and you'll see for miles down the Sound of Sleat, past the coast of Skye and on to Eigg and beyond, the many small islands shadowed in the sun-sparkled water. Just round the first headland to your left is Sandaig, called Camus feàrna (Bay of the Alders) by Gavin Maxwell in his book of his life there with his otters, "Ring of Bright Water".

Then there’s the serene calm of Glenelg, silence broken by the whoops and skirling of sea birds, by the splash of a fish, an otter or seal, or the scutter of some animal – a pine marten at dusk, perhaps - through the bracken, by the friendly greeting of a stranger passing on the road – but never by roar of traffic or razored by sirens.

On occasion, of course, the wind beating up the Sound may sting the rain horizontally into your face. Being out in a Highland storm, though, is excitingly different from the sodden misery of rain in the city. Here you have scents of bog myrtle and heather, damp peat and salt spray, spume and seaweed, natural aromatherapy bringing you fully alive while calming and relaxing you also. Raw nature, such as you'll find in the west Highlands, has this effect.

You’ll want, then, a home from home, a place to return to, shrugging your rain jacket to the floor as you enter, your boots tumbled in the scullery, padding through with a hot drink to the double-glazed warmth of the sitting room to watch the sea and the wind arguing over the scurrying white horses below. As a very satisfied guest remarked "Don't think Hilton, think old aunt Hilda's farmhouse and you'll be fine!"

There are four bedrooms, two double, one with ziplock divan beds, and a single, thereby sleeping up to seven. There’s a cot. There’s a comfortable sitting room with non-matching furniture and a carpet which we’ll get round to when we find a suitable one. There’s a modestly-sized flat screen TV running from a Sky satellite dish (non-subscription, equivalent to Freeview in its range) and a DVD player. In the cupboard there’s any number of DVDs, including some incredibly tacky titles, and plenty of board games and some outdoor ones. There’s a bookcase with a miscellaneous range of fiction and non-fiction titles and a number of books, booklets, pamphlets, leaflets and maps relevant to the immediate area and, more generally, the the west Highlands and beyond. These are all for you to use if you wish.

There’s much handsome pine panelling throughout the house, some of it a bit chewed, this panelling on almost the entire surface of the bathroom where you’ll also find an ancient cast iron bath with its original ingenious pillar plug, deep and where almost anyone will be able to lie full length, a glass of whisky comfortably within reach. Even whiskey, if you prefer. A quaich isn’t mandatory. There’s currently only one lavatory.

The dining room complements the living room, shares the wonderful light and view down the Sound of Sleat and to Skye (as do two bedrooms above), and is light and airy – the latter perhaps partly on account of the gaps between the floor and the skirting board in places, an issue next in line to be addressed when things are quieter. There’s a handsome Victorian oak table and matching mirrored sideboard and six chairs so that in parties of seven each member can take a turn over a week to act as butler. The matching Victorian chairs are upholstered in golden velvet and designed to accommodate a range of bottom characteristics, the seats being a mix of convex, flat and concave, the last a webbing-related matter. The carpet is worn but functional, another replacement issue in the process of being addressed.

The lower drawer in the dining room sideboard holds stationery and related items - feel free to use what you need from there. There's also a folder holding instruction or other manuals for various appliances should you find yourself bemused by some device.

If you prefer to eat in the kitchen next door, there’s a long, plain refectory-style oiled yew table, again with seating for six or more. Of course there’s plenty of crockery, a quantity of miscellaneous glasses, pans and cutlery and plenty of those items and devices beloved of chefs manqués such as fridge freezer, ceramic-hobbed cooker with two ovens, food processor, slow cooker, kettle and toaster, teapots and cafetière, and so on. There’s even a mandolin, risking you slicing the tip of a finger incautiously, and a microplane to allow you to remove part of a knuckle while getting at the last bit of parmesan. The kitchen scales are solar powered, the implication being that, yes, the sun does shine in Glenelg from time to time.

In the kitchen there’s a press, a free-standing cupboard, which holds dry goods – salts, peppers, spices, vinegars, oils, flour, rolled oats, oatmeal and other grains and pulses, teas of various kinds, perhaps cocoa, ovaltine and the like, maybe some marmalade, jams, pickles or chutneys and miscellaneous tins of things like tomatoes and baked beans. There’s a plethora of pasta of various kinds. You’re welcome to use these as you need to, simply replacing for later guests any items that run out or that you use excessively.

There is no dishwasher other than yourselves but there’s a decent two-drainer sink, J-cloths, Brillo pads and a mop, and Ecover washing up liquid to go with them. Next door to the scullery there’s an automatic washing machine and a tumble dyer, and the heart of the house’s heat, a powerful oil-fired boiler driving the eleven radiators scattered around the house as well as the capacious and efficient hot water system. There's a decent wireless broadband connection typically offering upwards of 20Mbps download speed and some 2.2-2.9Mbps upload. This is capped at about 23GB although a further 50GB can be had for £10.00 if prebooked and prepaid.

There's cleaning materials, brushes and cloths in the scullery and there's an automatic washing machine and a tumble dryer in the utility room as well as a couple of vacuum cleaners. As environmental concerns are increasingly important there are supplies of ecological materials for washing, washing up and cleaning; please use these rather than getting in others and, of course, let me know if you're running short.

It's a family holiday home, not a sterile house for transient visitors, and so you'll find it has most of what you'd expect to find in a place such as this which you'd want to treat as your own home for the period you're visiting. Let me know, of course, if you feel there's anything missing which should be added











Glenelg is a sparse community comprising Glen Mhor ("big valley", the road in over Mam Ratagan and down to near the sea) and Glen Beag ("small valley") entered at Eileannreach at the start of the main road's continuation to Arnisdale and Corran on Loch Hourn where's there's a Munro with another nearby. There's water, hills and plenty of marine, land and air wildlife to see and explore and plenty of information in the house about what to see and where to go. So just ask!

Kirkton is the main village and has a shop, post office (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings opening), a lively Inn with good food and often with live music, a school, surgery and village hall with a cafe and where ceilidhs and other events take place. There's lots more going on in both Glen Beag and Arnisdale and so it's worth checking the brochures and asking me or others that you meet in the shop or the Inn or just around.


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Although I've lived in England most of my life (Bristol, Liverpool, Yeovil, and now in west Dorset on the coast road close to Bridport) I'm from the north of Scotland. My father was from Glenelg, a son of the manse, and I've lived in or visited Glenelg for over 70 years and hence know the place well, both the geography and the culture. I'm a writer, formerly an antiquarian bookseller, software developer and IT and business consultant. I greatly enjoy music and dancing (until recently I also taught Argentine tango in Dorset), tennis, cooking, reading and talking, discussing over a pint or two or more current affairs and whatever else might be relevant, learning from and about others and exchanging views. Trite though it might sound Glenelg, and the west Highlands more generally, is very special and I want to let people experience that. As a host I want to make sure things work out for your visit, that you get the best out of your time here. Sadly I've not yet learned how to control the weather but I'll be fully accessible should you need information or help on other matters. Don't hesitate to get in touch by phone or email! I can communicate if necessary - more or less and really not particularly well - in French, German, Italian and Spanish, but I don't have the Gaelic. There's still time enough for that, of course.
Although I've lived in England most of my life (Bristol, Liverpool, Yeovil, and now in west Dorset on the coast road close to Bridport) I'm from the north of Scotland. My father wa…
As we live at the other end of the UK direct interaction is rare although you might get a visit from a Glenelg resident on occasion, checking that all is fine. However, I am available by email or phone and you shouldn't hesitate to get in touch if you need information or help. I make a practice of telephoning shortly after your arrival to welcome you and check that everything's in order for you.

Previous guests have commented that I'm very accessible and promptly responsive and that I deal with things straight away.
As we live at the other end of the UK direct interaction is rare although you might get a visit from a Glenelg resident on occasion, checking that all is fine. However, I am availa…
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