This post is part of a paid partnership with Scotland's Best B&Bs to showcase what makes their members so special
A short break in Spean Bridge, Scotland, with 3 suggested itineraries
Where to stay in Spean Bridge
Spean Lodge Bed & Breakfast
I spent 2 nights at Spean Lodge Bed and Breakfast, located in the centre of Spean Bridge, an attractive village only 15 minutes from the bustling town of Fort William. Check out my recommended itineraries below to discover some of the best things to do in and around Spean Bridge.
Spean Lodge sits in the heart of the village of Spean Bridge within walking distance of the main amenities including a few restaurants and the railway station. The famous Commando Memorial dedicated to the original British Commando Forces is also close by, a popular tourist spot with open views towards Ben Nevis.
The Lodge dates back to the late Georgian era and retains many original features. Owners Glen and Suzanne both have an interest in history and art which is reflected in the period decor and furnishings of the house. Even the sprawling grounds have pedigree, being landscaped by a professional gardener from Kew in London in the mid-19th century.
The spacious accommodation has the feel of a historic country home and a stay here does give you a bygone taste of life as a Highland Laird or Lady. I can't think of anywhere else I've come across on my travels around Scotland where you can get this experience at such an incredibly good nightly rate, not to mention all the added personal touches that come with staying at a B&B.
My guest room at Spean Lodge was traditionally furnished in keeping with the style of the house. I don't think I've ever come across proper china tea cups on a hospitality tray before but they were a fitting addition and I felt even more like a Highland Lady as I sat looking out my bedroom window to the pretty garden sipping on my tea!
The room decor may be period but it had the usual 21st century comforts that you might expect including a TV and very modern bathroom with walk-in shower. I was delighted to find a generous supply of toiletries from the Highland Soap Company which is located a short distance away just outside Fort William.
As with all the places I stayed at on this trip, my bed was very comfortable and the whole experience was very homely. Glen and Suzanne are another couple of lovely hosts who are on hand to share their local knowledge if you require it while giving you space to relax and unwind if that's what you prefer.
Guests also have access to a large lounge with a bay window that maximises the view of the garden. I loved the period style and the cabinet of curios including old bottles, pottery and random historic objects with a story to tell.
I can imagine it would an amazing spot to curl up in front of the fire on an autumn evening after a day of exploring. Autumn is actually my favourite time to visit this part of Scotland so I might just have to book a stay and try that out for myself.
The breakfast room was another beautiful space, like the rest of the house, the walls are adorned with eclectic and interesting art. I don't know if you've picked up on it yet but I kind of fell in love with the decor and historic features of Spean Lodge, its a shame my stay was only temporary!
Although there was an extensive list of breakfast options, I stuck to my usual cooked items on the first day and was pleased to have the choice of gluten free sausages again which is definitely not always the case in places I've stayed at although every B&B on this trip had them on the menu which was brilliant.
On the second morning I opted for Suzanne's scrambled egg and smoked salmon special which made a nice change and lived up to Glen's hype! It was also recommended by another guest so I definitely had to give it a try.
Thanks to Glen's excellent hosting, all the guests were soon chatting to each other and swapping travel tips. As a solo traveller surrounded by couples at separate tables it can sometimes be awkward to work your way in to someone else's conversation so I do appreciate it when the host breaks the ice and includes everyone in morning discussions. One of the aspects of staying at a B&B I enjoy the most is the social interaction as I really enjoy hearing everyone's travel stories.
Not only is Spean Lodge a member of Scotland's Best B&Bs, it has also been awarded a 4 star gold. I really can't recommend a stay here enough as it is fantastic value for such a distinguished pace to stay.
Glen and Suzanne are also interesting and amiable hosts that make you feel very welcome from the moment you arrive.
What to do around Spean Bridge
Now you have your accommodation sorted, you might be wondering how best to spend your time in Spean Bridge so I've suggested 3 road trips that include some of the best scenery in the area.
THREE ROAD TRIP ITINERARIES
Using Spean Lodge Bed and Breakfast as your base, these routes are all easy to follow. I have included all the highlights so you can personalise each route to your own interests. It is unlikely you will have the time to to visit every place listed so I suggest picking a few places that you definitely want to include and adding in more attractions if you have time left over.
OPTION 1 - SPEAN BRIDGE & FORT WILLIAM
BEST FOR - HISTORY & SCENERY
This post is part of a paid partnership with Visit Wester Ross as part of their 'Are you a West Coaster' campaign
Are you a West Coaster?
In my view, west coast sunsets like this should be savoured while strolling along a sandy shore; sitting on a rock; celebrating with a local tipple; or polishing off a plate of boat fresh seafood. It is not an experience to be rushed, but one to revel in as the burning orange embers of the sky gradually fade, a final memory to treasure at the end of a day well spent in a very special part of Scotland.
This is one of many special moments I've enjoyed in Wester Ross, a region of Scotland that includes some of the most scenic parts of the north-west Highlands. In a world where we spend much of our working time and day-to-day life rushing around, taking a vacation in a place like this provides space to breathe, relax and reconnect.
Locals here have embraced 'Highland time' and a new tourism campaign is encouraging visitors to do the same. 'Are you a West Coaster?' - if you share the ethos of west coast dwellers and prefer a more authentic experience when you travel, like me, you are a 'West Coaster' at heart.
Wester Ross forms part of the NC500 and although countless people who have travelled along the route would consider the region 'ticked off', I can guarantee they didn't even scratch the surface. Boasting a breathtaking coastline, an above average number of picturesque villages, lush gardens to visit, spectacular mountains to climb, iconic wildlife to spot, local culture to sample and a bountiful larder to taste, you need to dedicate longer than a night or two on a road trip to really appreciate everything Wester Ross has to offer. I know this because I'm speaking from personal experience - I've still only seeing a fraction of the area despite spending a fortnight there on holiday and visiting on several other shorter trips.
Stay a bit longer and give yourself time to get to know the people, immerse yourself in the landscape and get off the beaten track, because if you do, I can guarantee Wester Ross will get under your skin and leave you lovestruck. I can also promise you will collect some extraordinary memories and feel like the stress of the world has been lifted from your shoulders - I know I did!
5 ways to slow down in Wester Ross
To help with your planning, I've shared my 5 tips for things to do, to help you slow down, switching to 'Highland time' and experiencing some of the best that Wester Ross has to offer.
1. Get a bird's eye view of the landscape
Wester Ross is home to a landscape that has your jaw-dropping at every turn as you weave your way past sea, lochs and mountains. The backdrop is dominated by brooding peaks which include some of the most iconic mountains in Scotland. I don't consider myself a mountaineer by any stretch of the imagination, but even I felt a magnetic pull to conquer one of the craggy mountain summits for myself.
Because I had chosen a longer stay in the area, not only did I have the time to climb up one of the peaks, I could also pick the best day to do it. Early one sunny morning, I started up the well trodden path of Stac Pollaidh on the most perfect day imaginable. When I reached as close to the summit as I could without scrambling, I found a rock with a view, poured myself a coffee and gazed across at some of the most astounding scenery I'd ever set eyes on.
As I was staying nearby, I was in no rush to get down and lay back lazily in the sun, inwardly high-fiving myself at setting a goal and achieving it. Stac Pollaidh may not be the highest of mountains, but at that moment I felt on top of the world! To this day, it is still one of my favourite memories from travelling around Scotland.
Giving yourself enough time to climb a mountain is key, you can't just pull over in the car, run up to the top and take a photo. Another essential is having the skills, knowledge and equipment to climb a mountain safely. If Munro-bagging or even just hiking up a high hill in Scotland is something you dream of but don't have the knowledge or experience to confidently undertake, I recommend hiring a local mountain guide who will keep you right and know all the best places to go so you can achieve your goal.
Although I haven't used a guide myself, here are a few covering in the Wester Ross area -
Climb Ride Explore
Mountain & Sea Guides
2. Take to the water
This post is part of a paid partnership with West Coast Waters to promote the many ways you can immerse your senses around the Scottish west coast
A couple of months ago I was sitting on a bench in the pretty hamlet of Strathcarron, scooping up small mounds of cooling ice-cream dispensed in a tub at the local shop. The Scottish summer was doing what it was supposed to for once. It was warm enough to ditch my jacket (a rare occurrence!) and the azure blue sky was dotted with enough white cotton ball fluffs to stop my pale skin from burning. Gazing across the echo of crumpled brown hills on the still waters of Loch Carron, I mindfully celebrated my first west coast trip of 2021.
This was the start of my summer holidays and my next stop was the Isle of Skye. The last time I had followed this route was back in 2019, before the world was gripped by a pandemic and the freedom to travel was something I took for granted.
In the two years since I last wound my way along Scotland's west coast and over the sea to Skye, much has changed, but as I sat quietly inhaling the salty tang from the loch I also realised how much has remained the same. The timeless landscape of Wester Ross was exactly as I remembered and the feelings it inevitably stirs up in me hadn't disappeared. It all felt familiarly reassuring.
On my last trip here I made a detour to Plockton for an overnight stay before crossing the Skye Bridge. My relationship with Plockton goes way back to the mid-90s, to a time when a Highland policeman named Hamish Macbeth was a regular fixture on tellies around Scotland. The quaint TV village with a breathtaking backdrop was quickly added to my travel list.
Even though I've visited many times since, on my West Coast Waters Campaign in 2019, I got to experience the village and coastal scenery from a whole new perspective. Guided by Alison from Sea Kayak Plockton I absolutely loved every minute of my first sea kayaking adventure, despite being more than a bit apprehensive at the beginning. Rounded off with a seal spotting cruise with legendary local Calum Mackenzie and a locally landed seafood dinner at The Plockton Inn, I don't think my day could have been any better.
OVER THE BRIDGE TO SKYE
However, on this trip I was heading straight to Skye for a unique overnight stay in Boris the Military Pod, a converted army radio repair workshop in Kylerhea on the south east coast of the island. Located within walking distance of the shoreline, I spent the evening sat on the rocks watching bobbing seals in the Kyle Rhea strait, the narrowest point between Skye and the mainland. Sitting by the calming waters of the west coast was quickly becoming a theme for this holiday.
I could also spot the characterful Glenelg Ferry - the short journey from the mainland on the last manually operated turntable ferry in the world is my favourite way to travel to Skye.
All too often, visitors make a beeline for the same cliched sites that seem to appear on every 'must do' Skye list and consider the island ticked off their bucket-list, often within a day!
As someone who has visited Skye many times and stayed in a different area each time, I can tell you there is much more to see and do, I'd even go as far as saying there are some better things to do.
On my last trip I stayed in Waternish and joined Divers Eye Boat Trips on one of their short cruises to the now uninhabited Islay Island. Wandering around the ruins of a long row of waterfront cottages and the laird's house which has a murderous past was a real highlight. I was the only visitor that day and despite being a stone's throw from the rugged and bustling Skye coast, it felt a world away as I stood alone among the remnants of past lives.
From a trip around the Sleat Peninsula to a boat trip to reach the remote Loch Coruisk, there are countless unique and memorable experiences to be had in Skye if you are willing to let go of your FOMO and break away from the crowds.
My recommended things to do in Inverness and the surrounding area
Inverness is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland. It is known as 'The Capital of the Highlands' and acts as a great base for exploring the north of the country. The city of Inverness is compact and easy to explore on foot and although there are many places to visit within Inverness itself, some of the well known Inverness tourist attractions like Culloden and Loch Ness lie outside the centre.
You can travel to the city by bus or train and many attractions are walkable from the city centre but a car is advisable if you want to explore the outlying sites mentioned in this list. Inverness even has its own airport and the city acts as a gateway to countless Highland adventures whatever direction you decide to travel in once you get there.
My recommended things to do in and near to Inverness includes a mix of some of the top things to do but also some of the lesser known gems as I always aim to showcase a different side to the popular tourist places in Scotland.
I've also included a range of sight-seeing options that are within a 20 minute drive and I've marked all of the places mentioned in this handy interactive map to help you plan your itinerary.
What to do in Inverness
All of the following suggestions can easily be reached on from Inverness city centre
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
I personally think a visit to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is one of the best things to do in Inverness. The museum covers an extensive history of the area and is a great starting point for those interested in learning more about the different historical periods of the Scottish Highlands.
On the ground floor you will find exhibits dating back billions of years in the geology section and some amazing Pictish and Iron Age finds. Medieval Inverness, Gaelic culture and Highland wildlife are all covered on this floor too.
On the first floor the story of the Jacobites, Highland dress and weaponry all feature and there is even an opportunity to dress up if you feel inclined! Other exhibits include field sports, Inverness silver, Scottish identity, the Clearances and life in 20th century Inverness.
The museum is free to visit and is also home to a shop and cafe,
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