A writer's cosy croft house in the picturesque village of Gravir on the Isle of Lewis, UK. Dramatic sea views with modern, upscale amenities, a walled garden and veranda. A great base for sea angling or freshwater loch fishing, birdwatching, hiking, kayaking.
Rough Guide names the Western Isles one of the top ten destinations for 2016.
Located at the top of a private road Highgales occupies a commanding position on the northern shore of Loch Odhairn--a steep-sided sea loch six miles in length, fed by waterfalls, and full of aquatic life--and enjoys panoramic, breathtaking views of the surrounding sea and mountains that are just below and across from the house.
Highgales is a traditional crofter's cottage tastefully decorated and updated with modern, upscale amenities, including central heating, a newly renovated bathroom, pine flooring, well-equipped kitchen, and wifi access throughout the house. Besides two large-screen wifi TVs the house comes equipped with a DVD player, a CD player, and a portable bluetooth speaker that guests can use to play music and podcasts from their phones, iPads, and computers.
The master bedroom (with king-size bed) is just steps away from the bathroom and has been fully restored with Scandinavian wall paneling and varnished pine flooring, a restored antique dresser, sofa, and wifi TV.
The sitting room upstairs contains a sofa bed, an easy chair, and a raised desk and chair where one can read, write or sketch while facing the sea below and the mountains across the narrow bay. There is also a large flat screen wifi TV and DVD player (there is no broadcast TV or Sky TV but with wifi you can connect to Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts and stream movies and television shows) as well as a CD player and a portable bluetooth speaker.
The upstairs bedroom is furnished with two single beds, an easy chair, velux window, and a built-in clothes cupboard/closet. All rooms feature spectacular, inspiring views of Loch Odhairn.
The gourmet kitchen combines Hebridean charm with modern convenience: a large fridge/freezer, dishwasher, washer/dryer, an electric cooker/oven, restaurant-quality knives, a big block cutting board, antique kitchen dresser, and radio. Besides IKEA cutlery and dinnerware and a large supply of water and wine glasses, there is a nice selection of baking pans and muffin tins. The dining table in the kitchen seats four where guests can admire the glorious surrounding views while enjoying delicious home-cooked meals.
The bright, spacious bathroom on the ground floor (beside the master bedroom) has an electric shower, wash basin, WC, large mirror, hair dryer, and fluffy towels.
Highgales stands in a walled garden which offers privacy as guests enjoy the stunning sea views. There is a barbecue enclosure on the patio (bring a disposable grill) with outside seating and a private veranda with a bench on the other side of the garage that overlooks the bay.
From this dramatic location, a traditional gathering place for Gravir's villagers, guests can scan the entire length of the sea loch and, on clear days, the fairy-tale mountains of the Scottish mainland across the Minch can be seen. Both the garden patio and the veranda are the perfect spots to enjoy a glass of wine or cup of tea whilst observing the marine mammals, fish, and bird life that thrive here. (Buzzards and merlins often perch on the fence posts surrounding the garden.)
Guests might want to venture down to the village pier to fish for mackerel (the best luck will be had at a rising tide). At the closed end of the loch, where a river runs into the sea, guests may fish for sea trout. Beside the village pier is a launching ramp where guests may put kayaks in the water. The freshwater lochs that abound in the district of Pairc are teeming with wild brown trout.
Whether you are looking for an action-filled adventure or a peaceful, romantic hideaway where one can fully relax, Highgales is the perfect base for contemplative reading or sketching, sea angling, freshwater loch fishing, bird watching, hiking, kayaking, cycling, golf, beachcombing, and sightseeing. The area is also a photographer's dream! Enjoy spotting seals, otters, and porpoises in the water below the house. There are also resident sea and golden eagles, buzzards, merlins, sparrow hawks, cormorants, northern divers, fulmars, and the occasional gannet and puffin which venture as far as Highgales from the open sea. Migrating Whooper swans feed in the lochs above the village. And guests might encounter red deer on the back road that links the villages of Gravir, Calbost, and Marvig.
Disponible para huéspedes
Guests will have access to the entire house excluding two small cupboards and the garage. Guest are invited to use the large selection of books, DVDs, and board games on the shelves at the top of the upstairs landing. On the cork board in the kitchen guests will find important information about the house, the wifi password, and emergency contacts. There are two binders in the kitchen on the shelf beside the radio. One contains information regarding the operation of appliances in the house (including the boiler, cooker, dishwasher, and washer/dryer). The other is full of tourist brochures and flyers.
Atención a los huéspedes
I will not be in Gravir during your stay, but house manager, Cathy, will be available should you encounter any problems or need advice.
Otros aspectos destacables
The letting price includes bed linens, towels, electricity, central heating, wifi, and relevant taxes. Highgales can be let for a week or more or for short breaks. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Directions to Highgales
Whether you arrive in Stornoway or Tarbert, you will get on the main north-south thoroughfare on the island, the A859. From Stornoway, take the A859 south approx 20 miles until you reach the intersection with the B8060 (going south you will pass through picturesque village of Balallan) and go left. If you are driving up from Tarbert, you will drive north on the A859 until you reach the intersection with the B8060 which you will find just before entering Balallan and you will take a right. Once on the B8060 you will drive just over 10 miles through a chain of villages: Shieldinish (where you will find the district's only pub--with good food--called the Loch Erisort Inn), Tabost, Kershader (where you will find the district's convenience store/petrol station/gift shop/museum/coffee place with good cake), and Garyvard. After passing through Garyvard you will drive across the moor until you reach the outskirts of Gravir. As you cross the cattle grid, you will pass council housing on your right and left, the village school (to your left), the doctor's office (on the left). 100 metres past the doctor's you will see a sign that indicates that Glen Gravir is to the right and Gravir proper to your left. Go left and drive approx 1 mile. Go slowly, please. The road is narrow! Keep the water of the loch on your right. You will see 21 Gravir, a small house below the road and beside the shore to your right. From there after 100 metres or so you will notice a steep paved driveway that makes a very sharp left off the village road. Take the sharp left and drive all the way to the top. There you will find Highgales with its distinctive red garage door and gate. Cathy, my house manager, will leave the door open for you and the key on the kitchen table. Directions for turning on the boiler/furnace are on the cork board in the kitchen. You need to turn on the electric shower outside the bathroom for the shower to work. If you use the boiler, please do not turn on the hot water switch (above the washer/dryer)--the boiler will provide plenty of hot water for all uses.
Guests should consider visiting the great beaches in Harris. But beyond Luskentyre and Scarista there are what I call the "secret beaches" of Harris. To get to them, drive south on the A859 to Northton. Along the way you will pass Luskentyre and the string of beaches that make this one of the great drives, comparable to Oahu, where I spent my childhood. Take a right turn into Northton and drive east until you find the beach at the end of the where you may find parking. You should then walk east (away from the village) along the path that skirts the shore, keeping Capeval (the mountainous Headland), to your right, for approx one mile, until you reach the ruined medieval chapel which is surrounded by an ancient earthen fort. Along the way are some of the most beautiful, isolated beaches I've ever seen! Just take care when you use the stile to cross the fencing near the beginning of the walk.
On the way back to Gravir from Harris you should also consider visiting the beach at Huishinish. Carry on driving north on the A859 until you reach Aird Asaig where you will go left on the B887 and stay on this until you reach the isolated but splendid beach which is surrounded by the most gorgeous, machair-covered pastures. Be sure to walk across the machair to view the island of Scarp. On a good-weather day there is no more magnificent place on the planet. The drive can be challenging but is worth it as it will take you through the grounds of the Amhuinnsuidhe castle and through lovely open scenery.
No smoking is allowed anywhere on the property. No pets are permitted. Guests must make every effort to keep the garden gate closed so as to prevent sheep from entering the garden and fouling the walk.
If using the boiler to heat the house, please do not turn on the hot water switch above the washer/dryer. You will have more than sufficient hot water if you use the boiler. Thank you!
I would be most grateful if guests could leave the house as tidy as possible with all dishes washed and put away and the rubbish placed in the outside bins. Departure time is 11:00 am and I need outgoing guests to honour this as new guests often arrive the same day as a departure and my house manager needs adequate time to be able to service the house properly. Please bear in mind that Sunday is, according to tradition, a very peaceful day on the island and there are limited services and amenities available outwith the main town of Stornoway. Local people adhere to the tradition of keeping Sunday as a day of rest, so please do not hang out washing on Sundays. Fishing is also not countenanced on Sundays.
Entry time is any time after 4:00 pm.
I am a professor of English literature and visual culture at St. John's University in Queens, NY. During the academic year I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan near Riverside Park and the Hudson River. Aside from my Manhattan neighbourhood my favourite place in the world is the Western Isles of Scotland. I first visited the village of Gravir in 1999 and I've owned Highgales since 2001. Every summer I spend at least a few weeks fishing in Loch Odhairn and visiting local friends. Highgales reflects my taste: traditional elements are blended with modern conveniences and a clean, uncluttered aesthetic. When my guests have been outside all day fishing or hiking or kayaking I want them to be able to return to a warm house and enjoy a hot, refreshing shower before lounging in the garden, on the veranda, or in the kitchen with a cup of tea or a glass of wine. For me, staying at Highgales is restorative and inspiring. I hope that my guests feel the same way!