Abriachan Campsite and Cafe

The sign at the entrance to the Abriachan Campsite and CafeThis is easily the weirdest (in a nice way) café I’ve ever been to. Halfway between Drumnadrochit and Inverness on the Great Glen Way, the Abriachan Campsite and Café is a welcome stop-off point for hikers and cyclists. I love what the owner, Sandra, is trying to do and she deserves everyone’s support, although I appreciate that the basic facilities might not be for everyone. If you’re a hiker or mountain-biker though, you really shouldn’t mind, and it’s not every day you get to share your coffee with hens and a pig!

If you’re doing the northern section of the Great Glen Way, you really should stop by and say hello. If you’re not, you really should consider walking it, just for the pleasure of popping in and enjoying the fine coffee and warm welcome. You can even stop by if you’re in the area in your car, just as long as you don’t mind hiking a couple of kilometres from the nearest parking. It really is worth it!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The Great Glen Way. Are you sure there's a cafe around here?
  • Ah, wait, the welcome sign!
  • Stop! Open! Refreshments! Okay, you've convinced me!
  • And if that wasn't enough, there's this cheery fellow to entice you in
  • Where are we again?
  • Not that I knew it at the time, but this is one of the many seating options available. I just followed the signs.
  • As if further encouragement was needed!
  • Okay, that's not so good... A half-built cafe? No, my mistake, they're building a house...
  • My resting point for my stay
  • One of my many companions, a hen sheltering under the buzz-saw opposite
  • And a JCB digger. Every cafe needs one...
  • And here's the coffee, which was excellent. I'm not sure I could have made it better myself. The shortbread was a nice touch too.
  • And that's not all! I had a toastie. A cheese and pickle and tomato toastie!
  • Why did the chicken cross the road? I have no idea, but this one came in hope of food.
  • Talking of which, the cafe also has a dog. She assures me, with her soulful eyes, that she has never, ever been fed in her entire life. Honest.
  • A rare picture of me working hard at the blog (it's the picture that's rare, not the fact that I'm working hard at the blog, ye of little faith!)
  • And finally, the facilities. This is the gents toilet. Very environmentally friendly.
The Great Glen Way. Are you sure there's a cafe around here?1 Ah, wait, the welcome sign!2 Stop! Open! Refreshments! Okay, you've convinced me!3 And if that wasn't enough, there's this cheery fellow to entice you in4 Where are we again?5 Not that I knew it at the time, but this is one of the many seating options available. I just followed the signs.6 As if further encouragement was needed!7 Okay, that's not so good... A half-built cafe? No, my mistake, they're building a house...8 My resting point for my stay9 One of my many companions, a hen sheltering under the buzz-saw opposite10 And a JCB digger. Every cafe needs one...11 And here's the coffee, which was excellent. I'm not sure I could have made it better myself. The shortbread was a nice touch too.12 And that's not all! I had a toastie. A cheese and pickle and tomato toastie!13 Why did the chicken cross the road? I have no idea, but this one came in hope of food.14 Talking of which, the cafe also has a dog. She assures me, with her soulful eyes, that she has never, ever been fed in her entire life. Honest.15 A rare picture of me working hard at the blog (it's the picture that's rare, not the fact that I'm working hard at the blog, ye of little faith!)16 And finally, the facilities. This is the gents toilet. Very environmentally friendly.17
Javascript Sliders by WOWSlider.com v4.6

Located almost exactly halfway between Drumnadrochit and Inverness on the Great Glen Way, the Abriachan Campsite and Café is one of the more remote cafés I’ve visited in the UK. First impressions are important for any establishment and when you’ve been hiking for three hours on a hot summer’s day, nothing creates a better first impression than a sign saying “Café, 1km”. When this is followed by regular signs along the path, promising you the various treats you can expect, the impression gets better and better.

Now, in fairness, friends of mine had already informed me of the existence of this excellent establishment, but even so, it was a welcome sight, especially as the day was wearing on and I was afraid that it might close before I got there. However, I needn’t have worried on that score because Sandra, the owner, assures me that she welcomes visitors any time of day (or night!).

When you get there, you’ll get an exceptionally warm welcome and find a café like no other. There’s a kitchen in a wooden shack, while I got a seat on a bench under a wooden lean-to, where I shared my table with as varied a collection of things and animals as I’ve ever experienced. My companions included: a buzz saw, numerous hens, a big white dog and a JCB digger. I even got a visit from one of the pigs!

Now, before anyone gets the impression that I found any of this off-putting, I didn’t. I absolutely loved it, but I’m sure it’s not to everyone’s tastes. The facilities are basic, it’s very quirky and if dry-compost toilets aren’t your thing, then give it is a miss. On the other hand, if you’re taking the Great Glen Way, then these things really shouldn’t bother you in the slightest…

Anyway, down to business. The menu offers freshly-ground coffee or a cappuccino. I went for the freshly-ground option and received a large cafetiere out of which I got a generous two mugs of coffee. It was rich, strong, smooth and brewed pretty much to perfection and far surpassed my expectations.  I also had a cheese, pickle and tomato toastie which drew a flock of hens, the dog (who, by her expression, had clearly never been fed in her life) and, after a short while, the pig, which was duly ushered back to its pen…

I could go on, but you get the picture. This place is wonderful, an absolute gem and worth a 15 mile hike any day. If you are walking the northern section of the Great Glen Way, then you really should call in. Note that it’s only accessible by foot/bicycle, but if you are coming by car, then there is parking a couple of kilometres away. You need to head for the Abriachan Forest Walks car park, then walk back the way you came for about a kilometre, until you reach the road. Cross over and follow the Great Glen way for another kilometre (although you should see the signs fairly quickly) and you’re there.

ABRIACHAN CAMPSITE • WESTER LAIDE • ABRIACHAN • INVERNESS • IV3 8LB
www.facebook.com/pages/Abriachan-Eco-Campsite-Cafe/167842033237793 +44 (0) 1463 861462
Monday 24 hrs Seating Benches and fold-up chairs
Tuesday 24 hrs Food Toasties, Soup, Beans/Eggs on Toast
Wednesday 24 hrs Service Table
Thursday 24 hrs Cards No
Friday 24 hrs Wifi No
Saturday 24 hrs Power No
Sunday 24 hrs Mobile No
Chain No Visits 11th August 2012

For a slightly more up-to-date perspective, check out this post by Chris & Rachel, who visited the cafe while riding the Great Glen Way exactly four years to the day after I was there.


If you liked this post, please let me know by clicking the “Like” button. If you have a WordPress account and you don’t mind everyone knowing that you liked this post, you can use the “Like this” button right at the bottom instead.

Don’t forget that you can share this post with your friends using the buttons below.

24 thoughts on “Abriachan Campsite and Cafe

  1. Pingback: Welcome to Brian’s Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: The Coffee Spot Awards | Brian's Coffee Spot

  3. Pingback: The Coffee Spot Awards: Winners | Brian's Coffee Spot

  4. As Quirky as it might be, I found nearly six pounds for two cups of tea a bit expensive, especially in those surroundings. Backpackers backpack because they are more often than not on a limited budget and so it can come as quite a shock when you expect a couple of mugs of tes and are charged nearly six pounds for them. The site should display prices so that you know what you are going to be charged. I didn’t see any and we only visited the site to give it a bit of trade for all of their effort. I would find it difficult to find a cafe on the high street that charges nearly six pounds for two cups of tea, never mind when surrounded by practically a junk heap, eco friendly or not. I’m still not convinced that the whole thing is a ‘Honey Pot’ to lure unsuspecting walkers in, then you order and get one hell of a shock when you get your bill. Otherwise, why aren’t prices conveniently displayed? I’m sure that if passing walkers saw, the price of the tea before they entered the site they wouldn’t stop.

    • That does sound steep; I paid £7 for a (very large) cafetiere of coffee and a toasted sandwich, which I thought was good value, particularly given where I was. Not cheap, but not over the top, either. I’m not sure the comparison with the high street cafe is a valid one, but you make a good point about displaying (or at least knowing) the prices before you order.

    • I absolutely loved having coffee here. It’s one of my most memorable occasions on my hike from Glascow to Inverness. Sandra was lovely and I enjoyed the service and the coffee was wonderful and it was pretty much 2 cups worth and delicous. Mine was served in beautiful vintage ware. Loved the animals and setting.

  5. Pingback: The Coffee Spot is One! | Brian's Coffee Spot

  6. Pingback: Coffee Spot Awards 2013 | Brian's Coffee Spot

  7. Pingback: 2013 Awards – Most Unlikely Place | Brian's Coffee Spot

  8. Pingback: 2013 Awards – Most Popular | Brian's Coffee Spot

  9. Pingback: Coffee Spot Awards 2013: Winners | Brian's Coffee Spot

  10. Brian, thanks for this post! I liked the way you described this place (including accompanying photos) – it makes me want to go there right away 🙂
    I hope to try it out this upcoming October (if my plan of combining the WHW and GGW works out well). Maybe I’ll even camp there (depending on my progress) but I will most certainly stop for coffee and some food. It looks like a really special place (in a very good way).
    Thanks again, Inbar.

  11. I travelled quite far to visit this place, I was hoping to do an illustrated feature about it as it looked like a good mixture of quirky surroundings with good quality ingredients. It turns out the £2.75 is one set price for everything so it works out as a good price for a caffetiere but not so much for tea. They’ve got quite a strange system where you have to sign for a receipt? and they’ve recently got into social media quite a bit and ask if they can take a photo of you to put on Facebook. I politely declined and the atmosphere went really frosty and only got a bit better when I said I’m pretty shy. Not fun at all.

    The building is the same hut you have in your photos with a few tables outside, its a bit run down to be honest and not in a quirky way. The quality is nowhere near the other places you’ve reviewed. I know they’re in a unique location but I’ve had great coffee, tea and snacks made in police boxes, boats, vans and even a bicycle.

    I really hoped I liked it as I would have loved to do a feature about them and hopefully include them the new calendar I’m working on. – w

    • Hi Wil,

      It’s a shame that you had such a poor experience. It’s been three years since I was there, so maybe things have changed. The social media thing isn’t new; that was going on when I was there, but no-one should feel offended if you say no.

      Looking forward to this year’s calendar by the way.

      Brian.

      • Cheers Brian – It was super weird, I mentioned this site and how well you spoke of the place, and talked about doing a feature hence my taking photos. When I declined the photo myself I even got asked to delete them from my camera. (I can see the irony – but didn’t really fancy being on fb)

        While I was up in the Highlands I visited Velocity Cafe in Inverness which I’d highly recommend! Calendar is coming along well hopefully more cafes outside the main cities this time

        Wil

    • Yes, we got the same frosty experience when I queried the £7 charge for a pot of tea for two. Being in the middle of nowhere with that chap I had to backstep and agree to a photo just not to show that I was a tight Yorkshireman when in reality I was being ripped off! He actually said that it was me, I wasn’t used to Highland prices.

  12. Disregard all negative comments. This welcoming place was amazing, the coffee was lovely, and there was plenty of it. There were Scottish shortbread biscuits included. A true gem, a delightful antidote to this materialistic and fast moving world. Loved it.

    • Please don’t disregard all negative comments! People have different experiences and give their subjective opinion. You may find it amazing, I found it a junk heap. The prices of Tea at £2.75 per mug should be clearly displayed so that people can decide objectively whether they want to pay it or not. If you want all people to enjoy the experience then it’s no good after the event hearing that they charge the same price for all beverages as somebody suggests is the case. Get those prices clearly displayed as indeed they should be in any café. Caveat emptor.

  13. Pingback: The Spartan Cafe | CHRACHEL

Please let me know what you think