This 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.
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|
|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.
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