“ Address: Sutherland / IV27 4RP / Scotland „
I was just six years old when I first fell in love with the Kinlochbervie Hotel. It was the Summer of 1976, one of the hottest Summers in Britain ever and it was my very first visit to the wild north west corner of Sutherland. I didn't stay here as my parents had a camper van at the time but we drank in the public bar in the evenings of almost every day of my two week stay and we ate food there as well.
I can still remember this place despite my young age and this hotel left a lasting impression with me. Years later I would still hold it in high esteem and I still recalled throughout my childhood that it was the most remote place that I had ever been to, doubtless trying to impress my school friends in the playground and probably boring them rigid in the process. I also remember that the staff behind the bar, even the young boys and girls, spoke amongst themselves in Gaelic, a language I knew about but up that point had probably never heard spoken.
Scots Gaelic was the mother tongue of my Great Grandmother who was born in Wester Ross. I was amazed to discover from my Grandmother that until my Great Grandmother was 17 and moved to Aberdeen she only understood a few words of English, something nowadays that seems incredible. My Great Grandmother died a week before I was born so I never met her and my Grandmother raised in Aberdeen never learned anything other than a few words of Gaelic from her mother. So by the time I realised that such a language existed it seemed that it had not only died out in my own family but it had also died out in Scotland as well, with only a few isolated pockets of people continuing to speak it. This is perhaps one of the things that fascinated me at such a young age about the staff at the Kinlochbervie Hotel.
It would be 2001 before I had the opportunity to return to Kinlochbervie again and I was surprised to find that it hadn't changed at all. The single track road with passing places hadn't been replaced with a motorway and the handful of tourists were still German, Dutch, Scandinavian and French. It seemed that the British still preferred their package holidays to the Mediterranean and as long as this remains so and this last bit of British paradise remains unspoilt then I for one am happy with that.
The hotel overlooks Kinlochbervie Harbour which is probably the prettiest harbour that I have ever seen. The sea here is a turquoise blue/green colour and it so clear and unpolluted that even at its deepest when you walk out along the jetty you can see the fish and watch the crabs crawling along the sea bed.
On a clear night from the car park of the hotel you can see the twinkling lights of Stornaway in the Western Isles and at dusk you can often watch dozens of seals, dolphins and porpoises in the bay. Is it any wonder that I have been in awe of this place for almost all of my life?
In 2001 I revisited many of my Scottish childhood haunts and re-kindled those memories, only this time I travelled around , staying one or two nights in a number of different places on a bed and breakfast basis. It is probably not surprising to hear that the Kinlochbervie Hotel was at the top of the list of the places that I wanted to stay.
I don't remember exactly how much I paid for three nights bed and breakfast at the Kinlochbervie Hotel but it wouldn't have been a lot. The room I recall was small but very comfortable but the en suite bathroom was rather cramped. The thing I still remember the most however was that breathtaking view and the incredible sense of solitude.
In August 2008 I was here again, although this time only as a non resident in the public bar. I was delighted to discover that the place still hadn't changed at all. Some of the staff actually remembered me and I was made to feel incredibly welcome. The talk in the bar was about a dead Whale that had been washed up on the beach that afternoon and which was clearly visible through the windows from the bar. Gulls pecked at its carcass and Skuas circled above it. I think I impressed one of the locals by advising him that it was actually a Pilot Whale and not a Minke Whale as he had thought.
The public bar had been refurbished since I had last visited here with a new carpet and new upholstery on the seating but other than that it was exactly as I hoped that it would be. I hope that it never changes and I know that it might be a few years before I am here again but I know that I will return one day.
Located on the tip of the northwest coastline, this hotel offers a fantastic view.