At the end of July 2015, after two years work involving buying 150 acres of beautiful coastal land overlooking the Moray Firth in the Scottish Highlands, then getting planning permission to build a facilities building and a barn, and half a mile of road and services along a remote hillside. After that we had to do all the building, as well as construct the yurts.
Both Gordon (Dad) and Kenneth (Son) have spent a lot of time in Afghanistan on development work and journalism. Yurts are very much part of the rural landscape in remote areas of the country, and the yurt pictures inspired Rhona (Mum) to send Jenny (Daughter) on a yurt making weekend about ten years ago. Jenny has been making yurts ever since. But it is a labour intensive business, and hiring them out is a more viable business than selling them, so with the purchase of the land at Easter Hillockhead, the idea of Black Isle Yurts was born.
When the sun shines, it is glorious. But the views can be even more impressive watching the wild weather drift over from the West. When it is chilly, even in high summer, the yurts are cosy with their wood burning stoves. They are designed with the freezing temperatures of Central Asia in mind! It could be balmy in April and chilly in August so there is an element of pot-luck in deciding when to visit. But with access to Inverness and the West and Northern Highlands so easy, there is plenty to do in all weathers.
A great half-day walk is descending the steep cliff path from the Black Isle Yurts site to the sandy beach then walking at the foot of the cliffs across the rocks at low tide (not possible at high tide!), to the village of Rosemarkie then up the Fairy Glen before joining the Eathie Road back to Easter Hillockhead. Also visit the historic port of Cromarty five miles away where the 18th century merchant houses reflect the port’s past importance in maritime trade to London and the Baltic States. Then a trip across Scotland to another port, Ullapool - about 75 minutes drive – and some of the most dramatic scenery of Scotland’s West Coast, a different world from the Black Isle. And of course there is the local wildlife, especially the Moray Firth dolphins: Chanonry Point, a 2 hour coastal walk away or 5 miles by car, is one of the best places in Europe to see these playful creatures from the shore.
There are quite a number: in Cromarty, a favourite café is Couper’s Creek, for daytime snacks and lunches; for evening meals, Crofters in Rosemarkie and the Allangrange Arms in Munlochy (10 miles towards Inverness) have exceptional dining at reasonable prices; then there is the Anderson in Fortrose – a pub with an unrivalled variety of beers, continental and local. Further afield, Inverness offers a range of first class eateries.
Those who want something different, have a sense of adventure, like wildlife and exploring, want a tranquil break amidst beautiful scenery with ever-changing views, and value staying in a secluded location separate from, but also in the company of, like minded people.