From cake to seafood: Eating my way down the west coast of Scotland
All those who know me will know that one of the main reasons I adventure is so I can eat more cake, but when you’re walking through the Scottish highlands I’ve found this precious resource is in short supply.
It’s not just that I love cake – a lemon and blueberry loaf soaked in lemoncello is my favourite – but it’s also because when I’m doing something that’s pretty out of my comfort zone, that I’m honestly a bit scared of and is physically really pushing my limits, food is the one thing that makes me feel better and also makes a big difference to my ability to physically keep pushing on (luckily cake has loads of calories).
The highlands of Scotland are beautiful and it’s remoteness is part of the attraction. You could seek out a stunning little corner and not see anyone for days. I’d never been to the west coast before and even now I’ve only seen a tiny part of it. I already know I have to go back, do some island hopping and may be even grab a SUP to appreciate those remote beaches.
This remoteness also means that shops and cafes are hard to find. I only found cafes in the larger villages, namely Thurso, Durness and Ullapool: each some 70 miles (4 days walking) away from each other.
But what the highlands lacks in cake supplies it makes up for in delicious local produce. From seafood including salmon, langoustines and muscles to Aberdeen Angus beef, handmade ice cream and rare breed pigs.
On day 9 of my challenge it rained heavily with strong winds from the moment I woke up, through 19 miles and over 8 hours of walking, until I went to sleep that evening.
I was utterly soaked to the bone just a few miles in, but I had spotted a lovely looking hotel at around the half way point that was a perfect lunch stop.
On arrival I met Sonia and Tanja, the welcoming owners who had transformed the hotel over the past 7 years. I love a good story about ditching corporate life to spend a year living in a van and then creating a wonderful business that clearly fills you with joy.
The Kylesku Hotel has a personal touch and local approach that makes you want to stop here all day, and I was delighted to see lots of local suppliers on the menu. They even had hyperlocal produce brought ashore from the bay right outside their windows.
It was then great, a few days later as I plodded towards Ullapool, to see the Wester Ross salmon fishery having heard about it from Sonia.
If you’re keen to eat your way through the west coast here are some of the yummy suppliers, all brought together by the Kylesku’s head chef Peter to make the most of the seasons.
Hamish the local fisherman brings in creel caught langoustine, crabs and lobsters from onboard Seabird in the Loch right outside the hotel.
Ian runs Ullapool Smokehouse, well known for their hot smoked trout.
Diving mainly off the coast of the Summer Isles, Andy Holbrow supplies scallops and sea urchins.
Wester Ross take a traditional and sustainable approach to salmon farming.
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On 3rd April 2017 I set off from John O’Groats to walk almost 1000 miles south to Lands End.
To follow my journeys head over to Fiona Quinn or www.fionalquinn.com/walkgreatbritain