In the ToLt-Log about Siobhan’s and my trip to and around Scotland, I already told you about our accomodations. But I feel like I would like to portray them for you. These places were special and I am so in love with the hospitality, the innovation, the love for detail that goes into all these houses. I would like to pay tribute to that and also give you some ideas, where staying is fun. I am starting this off with The Cowshed, Uig on Skye.
The Cowshed was the first place I booked, about 10 months in advance. I was looking for
- a dog-friendly place
- not too expensive
- in Uig, because of the port (from here the ferry goes out to Tarbert on Harris)
- something nice and special (because I just like good accomodations)
The Cowshed is a well thought-out ‚Boutique Bunkhouse‘ and hostel. There is the main house, where people can stay in rooms with bunkbeds, hostel-style. I just loved the common rooms. When you come in the front door (which is installed in a wall made of glass, overlooking the bay – you can see the Outer Hebrides from here), you are standing in the lounge part of the common rooms. There are quite a few sofas, there are books, games, even a guitar! Passing trough the lounge, you are lead into the dining area, where there are four huge tables, seating 10, I think, easy. This goes on into the kitchen area, where there is everything in doubles. The huge stove (gas), complete with ovens, microwaves, sinks and just everything you need. You can really do ellaborate dinner parties here if you are so inclined. There is a storage system, so that you can store your food, refrigerated or not. Beyond that lies the reception. A cozy place where ususally someone very nice sits, waiting to help you out. It’s even a small store, where you can get essentials like bread, cookies and so on. There is an information board with just about everything you can do around Uig, and a huge map of the northern part of Skye, in exact detail. Even the cattle grids are on that!
Turning right, through the door, you can find the washing room, where you can wash and dry your clothes for a small fee (including the detergent).
From the dining/kitchen-area a hallway leads off to the guest bedrooms and the common bathrooms. These seem brandnew and are clean, bordering on perfection. Of course it always depends on who used it before you. That’s something I don’t like too much. So it’s lucky we had a pod.
Dogs are not allowed in the main house. Mostly, I think, because of the open kitchen. Outside, on the premises, you will find the pods on a rising ground behind the main house. There are quite a few of them, but two are set apart from the others. They are in a fenced area with really good cattle gates. They cannot be opened by dogs or animals in general. This is the dog friendly pods area, where dogs are even allowed to run free all day long. This was my favorite part of our stay, I think. We had the upper pod, looking out over the bay. In the mornings we would let Sammy out and he wouldn’t come in unless he smelled some cheese. He just loved lying out there. It was so lovely watching him enjoying this freedom of coming in the house or staying out just as he pleases. Sometimes the dog from the lower pod would join him and they’d play a little. So that’s all very friendly, calm and relaxed.
The pods are all alike, as far as I know. They are very intelligently designed. In front of the front door (that is french doors) there was a little porch with a bench. A lovely place to sit and have breakfast. Inside on the left, is a small table with two chairs. On the right there is a sofa (the exact same model as Siobhan’s, by the way, which is why we both had a bed for ourselves). Inside the sofa’s storage box you find two more folding chairs. Beyond the sofa is the bed. On the left there is a small kitchen. No stove but a microwave and a little fridge. And in the far left corner you can find the bathroom. It’s complete, but it’s just a big as a shower cabin. The shower is installed on the right side, directly under it the tiny sink. On the right there is the toilet, the floor is a shower cabin floor. So, if you take a shower, you draw the curtain over the wooden door and just do it. Everything gets wet, but that doesn’t even matter.
There is hardly anything to criticise here. You should be aware that there are no boards or anything to store your stuff. The only way is your suitcase/bag, which you can slide under the bed. So pack lightly or use an extra bag for the time you’re staying here. There is not much room. It doesn’t matter however. Being on Skye, you’ll want to be outside and enjoy the scenery. Also it took me some time to adapt to the smell that comes out of the bathroom from time to time, which is not really bad but something one might have to get used to. If you’re not too sensitive about smells, that should be fine. I am very sensitive, but even I got used to it by the end of our time here.
The Cowshed doesn’t serve breakfast. If you’re traveling without a dog, you just go down a few minutes and you can have a wonderful breakfast at the Uig Hotel. Otherwise you just do it yourself. We did that every morning and we quickly had our routine.
Not far from The Cowshed are two beautiful spots you can visit: The Falls of Rha and the Fairy Glen. The Falls of Rha are located quite close to the A 855 leading out of Uig and to the north. Before leaving town, there is a small bridge. Just before it (as seen from Uig) you go right and follow a path right towards the falls. It’s a ten minute walk max. The Fairy Glen is also easily accessible. Just take a right turn when you come into Uig from the south. Pass by The Cowshed and then take the next right turn and follow it. It leads you directly into the Fairy Glen. It’s a beautiful piece of land and if you go there, please do NOT build a maze or anything that entails collecting stone and piling them. It’s a huge nuisance to the locals!
The Cowshed is a perfect base for trips around Skye and to Harris and Lewis. The ferry usually leaves and returns once a day. There are only two days it leaves and returns two times. So there are only two days a week you can come to the Outer Hebrides and return on the same day. Otherwise you have to stay over. So it makes a lot of sense to check the timetables and base yourself wisely, since they might leave very early in the morning. From The Cowshed it’s only two minutes to the ferry. Not unimportant if you’re on the 5.30 am – ferry and have to be there 45 minutes in advance, right.
Uig is also perfect to explore the northern part of Skye from. Distances on Skye are quite easy anyway. It’s the beauty of the landscape and the walks and photo stops that a 45 minute road tour into a day trip. You can even use it as a base for the whole of Skye, really. Depends on how much you like driving. But, as I said, distances on Skye are easy. It takes you about 20 minutes to Portree, and I think about 30 to 40 to Dunvegan. From the Fairy Pools it was about the same, I believe. So this is no big deal.
One last thing, before we wrap this up: the drive onto The Cowshed premises is very steep and it’s single lane. We were there in summer, so there was no problem. And we only had one encounter with another car at the top, so it was easy to reverse. However, I think I would call them before arriving there and ask about how to do it in winter. I don’t know about the conditions then, so close to the sea, but I cannot imagine getting my car up that hill then. So maybe check that beforehand.
Also, if you like to do workaway, you can actually do it here. They give you a bunkbed in a room with other volunteers and cash for food which you can prepare in the beautiful kitchen area.
All in all it was a wonderful stay and we just loved it. When we make it back, I think a stay at The Cowshed will be mandatory.