UPDATED FOR 2019
I originally started this list of recommended places for tea and cake around Ullapool when I spent a lovely week there with my mum at the end of 2016. Our days out always seems to include a sugary refreshment stop, which we justify to ourselves as a well-earned break from a busy schedule of exploring.
During our trip to the Ullapool area we came across some cute tearooms in the most unexpected of places. Since then we have been back to stay in the village and tested out even more cake stops, just for research purposes of course! They haven't always lived up to our high standards and therefore only a few have made this list so far. One of my original recommendations has sadly closed but happily I've managed to find a new addition to replace it. I'll keep adding to this blog post if and when I come across any more.
Ullapool is well positioned for memorable road-trips around the North West of Scotland and we did plenty of exploring during our holiday so these recommendations are quite spread out. Those of you undertaking the North Coast 500 Route might also find this guide useful as you pass most of these stops on the way. I've added a handy map of the locations at the bottom of this page.
I think it is important to contribute to the local economy of any place you visit and even if you only stop for a coffee, you are helping to support a local business. I think this is especially important to mention during a time when camper van and self-catering holidays in Scotland are booming. Although you could easily make your own brew on these types of vacations, spending a few pounds at independent businesses, especially in rural areas, really does make a difference. Tearooms and cafes in quieter places are also great for meeting locals and swapping tips with fellow travellers.
I should add that my mum and I do consider ourselves to be Scotland tea and cake stop aficionados so hopefully you won't be disappointed in our choices which have all met with our expert approval...
The Elphin Tearooms, Elphin
This is a new addition to my blog as we first visited Elphin Tearooms earlier this year. It was so good we went back twice within a week. It is an ideal stopping point on the North Coast 500 as you travel north from Ullapool or south towards the village depending on which direction you are driving. It has a large car park and as it states on the website, it welcomes everyone including bikers, campervans and dogs.
We visited with Willow and although we could have sat inside, the weather was just too glorious. The views of the surrounding mountains are also just so pretty that we opted for one of the outdoor picnic tables. It really is the kind of place that you can sit and relax in to holiday mode. There is no feeling of being rushed and the service is super friendly. We ended up chatting to our picnic table neighbours and it was nice to exchange some travel stories among such scenic surroundings.
Both times we visited, our cakes were fresh and delicious which is perhaps the most important thing when that is your main purpose for visiting. The tearoom sits on its own and would be easy to drive by as you head to somewhere else. Personally, I think a stop here should be part of your travel itinerary and you will also have the satisfaction of supporting a local business.
Tea by the Sea, Ullapool
We walked past this gift shop come cafe a couple of times before we finally succumbed to temptation. Our willpower was eroded away by the list of delicious sounding daily desserts on the notice board outside which we just had to investigate for ourselves.
This is a quirky little place inside with a few tables adjoining a new age type gift shop. The friendly owners were more than happy to explain what delights were on offer that day and the counter was stuffed with enticing choices.
I opted for a creamy slice of bannoffee pie and my mum opted for the apple pie topped with caramel sauce and cream just for good calorific measure! A generous amount of tea and an extra pot of hot water to wash everything down completed our sweet, sticky feast and we both agreed that a cake stop at Tea By The Sea deserved a big thumbs up.
Update - we returned again on our most recent trip and enjoyed more cake. It was just as good and this time it was even warm enough to sit on one of the pavement tables out the front and enjoy the waterfront view.
Achiltibuie Piping School Cafe, Achiltibuie
The highlight from my week in Ullapool was definitely a trip to Achiltibuie and the Coigach Peninsula. The scenery is breathtaking and it really feels as if you have left the tourist trail well behind. I highly recommend a visit to this stunning part of Scotland and a stop at the village of Achiltibuie which is surprisingly big considering its remote location.
The Achiltibuie Piping School Cafe is a real off the beaten path gem with amazing views to the Summer Isles. This old village hall has a real community vibe and we found the table of home-made cakes irresistible! For such a remote place, I was also surprised at the wide range of teas on offer and although I didn't have Willow with me, it was good to discover that it is also dog friendly.
Now this is where I must confess to a blogger fail, I didn't photograph our tea and cakes as I was enjoying the experience too much, oops! I can tell you that I really enjoyed my huge slice of lemon cake and I did remember to photograph the view. The baking was so good that we bought pumpkin scones to take back to the accommodation and I also bought a cute little puffin card as a souvenir of our day. We also bought some local free range eggs from an honesty box on the road and I made sure I photographed them to make up for my earlier fail.
You'll just have to take my word for it that our cakes looked and tasted incredible and of course try them for yourself!
Update - We have recently returned to this amazing cafe. This time I had Willow and I remembered to photograph my lunch, delicious mackerel pate and oatcakes. This really is a must visit.
Lochinver Larder, Lochinver
I had been told by numerous people that a trip to the Lochinver Larder to try their famous pies was a must. Sometimes places don't live up to their hype but I can confirm that Lochinver Larder deserves its reputation.
As it was mid-morning I decided against one of their savoury pies and even bypassed the appealing looking cakes on offer, opting instead for one of their sweet apple pie options to accompany my obligatory cup of tea. I didn't need to worry about a meagre slice of apple pie here because I was served up a whole pie just out of the oven accompanied by a generous jug of cream. It was every bit as tasty as I hoped it would be!
The drive from Ullapool to Lochinver is rewarding in itself and a visit to Lochinver Larder is a bonus at the end of the journey. As we were self catering we also picked up some savoury pies to take back to our accommodation and my mum and I agreed that they could be the best pies we have ever tasted!
Luckily they do a pies by postal service to keep us going until our next visit.
Whether you are undertaking the North Coast 500 or just exploring this wild part of Scotland, be sure to take some time out for some local home-baking at one of my recommended tearooms or cafes around Ullapool (or visit all if you have the time!).
if you have discovered a tea and cake gem in the area be sure to let me know in the comments below so I can check it out next time!
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Follow my Scotland travel adventures on social media
If you have found my blog useful and would like to support me in creating future Scottish travel content, you can by me a coffee on my Ko-fi page. All 'coffee' donations are hugely appreciated