One of our favourite seasons to travel and explore Scotland is autumn. The colour of the leaves on the trees changing, the misty mornings and some really beautiful light, whats not to love. We were excited to see what it would be like for our stay at Unigar Cottages, Orkney.
I have visited for work on several occasions and was treated to blue skies, rolling green landscape and calm sea. This trip was a bit different (read: completely different).
Arriving at Unigar Cottages
We arrived in Stromness on Monday morning on the first North Link ferry to leave Scrabster. Just ninety minutes later and we were keen to get some breakfast we headed straight out to our self catering cottage near Quoyloo. It’s just eight miles away from the ferry terminal. The directions I had been sent in my confirmation email were easy to follow and got us to the door first time (this doesn’t always happen, even in the city!).
First impressions from the outside were good and the view was even better.
Once inside the single storey building we immediately felt how warm and cosy it was but before we move in properly for the week I have to take photos! Standard practice of anywhere that we stay, camera comes out first and only then can everything else come out of the car!
I also discovered we had been left an Orkney food and drink welcome basket! How sweet is that?
This cottage sleeps four – a double bedroom with en-suite, with a twin room and family bathroom just down the hallway. Both bedrooms are large, light spaces with built in wardrobes with plenty of coat hangers, drawers and shelf space to unpack for your stay.
The large family bathroom has a bath for those who prefer a soak in the tub after long days out doing coastal walks. Or, if, like me, you prefer a shower that’s possible too with the powerful shower head and plenty of room. I know that sounds a bit odd to say there is plenty of room in a shower but I have been to some places where you can’t even bend forward to pick up your shampoo. There is enough storage and surface area to put out the toothbrushes and other toiletries too.
The master bedroom has a similar layout to the twin room, with it’s built in wardrobes, a dressing table with mirrors and a stool. The en-suite is a small, galley style room with another large shower, a toilet and sink.
The open kitchen/dining/living area in the cottage is a lovely space. The kitchen has everything you will need for your stay and eating in, there is even a bottle opener! We did have a bit of a battle with the oven and hob (even with the instructions) but I think that is because it is so different to ours. Once we had worked it out, we were sorted and wondered what all the fuss was about!
Just a few steps across from the kitchen and a lovely big wooden table and chairs, enough for four people to be comfortably seated for meals. I’m a big fan of sitting at the table to eat and so this was just like being at home.
We probably read more whilst we are away than at any other time and the comfy sofa and single chairs are a perfect spot for this. The only problem I had one this occasion was keeping my eyes off of the view. The rolling greenery of Orkney, with a splash of sheep and a hint of hunting hen harrier I didn’t get much reading done. And we even managed to make friends with a sweet ginger and white cat who would come to the patio doors.
The whole property has underfloor heating and if, like us, your home is a drafty old gate house then this is just the job, especially after coastal walks in the damp air. Even getting out of the shower was okay as usually back home it is a rush to get dressed again. Brrrrrrrrrr. I digress!
The utility room is tucked away off of the main entrance hallway and is home to a vacuum, ironing board, washing machine etc.
There is Wi-Fi good enough to cope with an end of day barrage of posting stories on social media.
Situated on the the north west side of mainland Orkney are the three cottages, just eight miles from Stromness and seventeen miles from Kirkwall.
The immediate neighbours are Orkney Brewery (literally a two minute walk). You can buy locally made beer to enjoy at home or have a drink in the bar. The menu is also a real delight for lunches, snacks and cake. You can read my blog on the taste of Orkney here.
The village of Dounby has a butchers, petrol station, Co-Op, crafts store, hairdressers and is only five miles away. The joy of being in self catering accommodation is that you can choose to stay in or eat out. We chose some amazing steaks from the butchers that were nearly as local as Unigar Cottages.
There are several RSPB reserves on this side of the mainland too and easily accessible from the cottages, if you like a spot of bird watching.
There are more historical sites in Orkney than you can shake a stick at: Skara Brae is just two miles along the road and the Ring of Brodgar is only about seven miles. One of our favourites was making it over the causeway to Brough of Birsay.
The Craft Trail runs all over the mainland and some of the smaller islands. You don’t have to travel far before coming across signs for wood turners, jewellers, potters, soap makers and knitwear. A brilliant way of taking home a small piece of Orkney. I can also highly recommend the wee craft shop in Dounby. They stock cards, paintings, clothing and jewellery. Dude and I bought a felted framed picture of puffins. We loved it it so much we went back the next day to ask if they did heilan coo pictures. Sadly they didn’t but the owner of the shop took our details and passed them on to a lady who made the puffin one we had purchased the day before. A few emails later and we had commissioned our very own felted coo picture. One of our most treasured Scotland road trip purchases. The joys of a local community.
We loved Unigar Cottages
We loved our stay at Unigar Cottages, Orkney for so many reasons and although the weather was not particularly kind to us we feel like we made the most of our trip. For me, having somewhere that feels like home to come back to after a day out exploring in the wind and damp sea air is a must. One that has everything you need, and this certainly offered that. It has been nicely decorated and all the furniture, bed linen, towels etc are of good quality.
It’s the little things that made us feel really welcome, like having milk in the fridge when we arrived, the food hamper of treats in the basket, up to date information of things to see and do and using a local hand soap company. Even the photographs in all the rooms were of local views, very inspiring. We loved it here and will definitely be back.
*We were invited to stay at Unigar Cottages on a complimentary basis in return for a blog review and my photos. All views on heated floors, good views and the photos in this post are my own.