out of 10
We spent a very enjoyable January week at the cottage. Jan and Alan were perfect hosts. The cottage is located in a quiet village, Castletown, on the north coast, very convenient if you are doing the North Coast 500. The property is typical of the thick stone-walled cottages built in the 19th. century. It was warm, very clean, with gas-fired central heating. In the lounge, there was also a gas fire should the Scottish winter start to bite. However, I understand that this part of Scotland is favoured by the Gulf Stream, so does not experience the ravages of the higher ground. The kitchen was well furnished with all you would need. There was a separate shower room with a large (double sized!) shower. The duvet was absolutely brilliant, thick and warm. In the lounge, Jan told us to shuffle the furniture as we wished, which we did so we could snuggle into the comfortable sofa and watch tv on the winter nights. Wi-fi was provided, with good reception. There was also good mobile phone reception. At the side of the property, accessed by a door from the lounge, was a large, well kept, garden where our dogs could run off their excess energy. In summer, it would be ideal for a few beers, or even a wee dram. There are several distilleries locally with excellent single malt whiskeys, and gin and vodka with their own 'special organics'. Beautiful! There is an excellent butcher in the village. We were there just before Burns Night, and the array of haggis dishes was impressive. We treated ourselves to Aberdeen Angus sirloin. Mmmmm! There is also a Fish 'n' Chip shop down the road serving delicious haddock, amongst other things, and an off-licence/general store. Want to eat out? There is a dog-friendly pub just down the road. The cottage is convenient for the distinctive landmarks John o'Groats, and Dunnet Head. Castletown does, however, have its own claim to fame as the original mass-producer of stone flags, shipped world-wide, with its own picturesque harbour. The Heritage Centre and walk are worth a visit. There is another harbour, at Gill's Bay, just a few miles up the road where you can book a day-trip across to Orkney on the Pentland ferry. Well worth the trip, but check the wind direction. Southerly winds are the best, westerly the worst. The catamaran vessel has a 'sun deck' where dogs are allowed, and so do not have to stay in the car. This is a property I would love to visit again.