The rural areas of Scotland are among some of the most beautiful destinations in the world, with dramatic heathery landscapes, rugged coastlines and mysterious mountains to enjoy. Time spent in rural Scotland is good for the mind and soul, with masses of space to free your brain from everyday stresses, and an abundance of beauty which lightens any mood.
The rural wilderness scattered throughout Scotland is not hard to get to, with many of the remote areas being within easy reach of a major city. To get far out to the likes of Harris and Lewis you need to hop on a ferry, but even then, the travel is not lengthy and you can take your car making exploring at the other end really easy. So in this guide, we are going to focus on some spectacular areas within the northern Highlands of Scotland, which are considered to be the most rural and remote parts of the country, and we will also feature a great cottage in which you can stay.
Our rural cottages in Scotland offer the perfect escape to switch off from the world. Often boasting amazing views, they can provide a quiet haven in which to relax and get that digital detox we all crave after a busy year. You may think the more rural the cottage the more basic it is, but in many cases our owners have enhanced their accommodation to reflect the luxury of their location. Read on to discover some of our remote cottages in the rural Highlands of Scotland which can offer you a relaxing rural retreat for your next break.
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Durness is set on the northern coast of Scotland, right up at the top, and is the most north westerly village on the British mainland. Whilst small and modest, it has a strong sense of community and boasts a multitude of white sand beaches, craggy cliff lines and beautiful sea views. On a good weather day, you can see out over the ocean for miles and admire all of the sea life that this amazing location is home to – seals, sharks, and all types of sea birds. Time can be spent exploring the coastline, whether that be on foot or by car, pootling down the country roads and soaking in the views.
- Sango Bay – a beautifully formed cove perfect for picnics and wild swimming. The panoramic views of North Minch will take your breath away.
- Balnakeil Beach – a large white sand beach perfect for lazy days dune jumping and building sandcastles.
- Smoo Cave – a 50ft-high sea cave set into limestone cliffs with an impressive waterfall inside.
Stay in a rural cottage in Durness
You can’t get more rural than The Beach Bothy which is set within 100 feet of Balnakeil Beach itself. It is a cosy property sleeping two, perfect for a romantic getaway in rugged Scotland. The traditional stone bothy has been lovingly renovated to provide comfortable accommodation surrounded by beach views and the sound of waves lapping against the shore.
Whilst small and compact, there is everything you need to enjoy a comfortable stay, with a well-equipped kitchen, bedroom and bathroom - although being that close to the sea may mean you bathe naturally instead! This would be a magical place to stay at any time of year – keep an eye out for the cows that tend to hang out on the beach!
Heading down the west coast, you will come to Lochinver - a small Highland village with character. It is a small fishing port sitting on a sheltered bay, north of the well-known and popular village of Ullapool. If you ever drive the road between Durness and Lochinver, you will be stunned by the beauty of your surroundings, encompassed by tall jagged hills on either side showing off their tremendous seasonal colours. The roads may be windy, but every corner takes you somewhere new and presents some other out-of-this world view! A long stretch of the village hugs the shoreline, which is a nice spot to take a relaxed stroll, and there are a couple of places to grab a bite to eat to refuel.
- Suilven – a popular Munro to take on, which can be seen from Lochinver itself. Make sure you mark your climb by adding to the cairn at the top.
- Loch Culag and the Culag woods – two great places for explorations, getting out and about in the nature and wildlife that surrounds you.
- Cam-Mac Boat Trips – get out to sea and clear the head with a boat trip and some fishing fun, offering you the best of the Scottish ocean.
Stay in a rural cottage in Lochinver
“We loved the location, views and remoteness of this property. Everything was spot on, basic but adequate, warm, and cosy and a perfect break away from it all. Clachtoll beach well worth checking out and Achmelvich is beautiful.” Tim, 3rd October 2020
As its name suggests, 19th Century Schoolhouse is a 19-century cottage which is full of charm and character, offering a truly Scottish stay in the Highlands. Playing to those who enjoy homely and rustic, this little cottage is situated in the perfect location for getting away from it all. You are spoilt for sea views when staying here and waking up to the crystal-clear water and the sound of waves every day is a magical experience. The surrounding landscape will please even the slightest nature enthusiast, and the wood burner in the living room offers cosy living in the evenings after days out exploring. The cottage sleeps four in two bedrooms and welcomes two dogs, so you can take the family away, or plan a couple’s retreat to enjoy this cottage in a remote part of the Highlands.
Achiltibuie is set on the north-west coast of Scotland and is a tiny village enjoying views of the open sea, impressive mountains, and coastal delights. This is the place to come if you enjoy the simple things in life that the great outdoors can offer like fishing, walking, birdwatching, and hill walking. The drive to Achiltibuie is delightful whether you are travelling northwards or southwards; everywhere you look offers a new valley, hill or vista which will be photo-worthy!
Fun fact: The village interestingly sits within four different areas of special landscape including the Wester Ross National Scenic Area, the North West Highlands Geopark, the Wester Ross Biosphere Reserve and the Wester Ross Marine Protected area.
- Ben Mor Coigach Wildlife Reserve – a landscape dominated by mountains, peat bogs, lochs, and moorland. Perfect for wildlife enthusiasts.
- Altandhu and Polbain Circuit – a great circuit for cyclists to take in quiet country roads and coastal views. It is a short 9 miles, but worth fitting in.
- Hamlet Mountaineering – a company offering wilderness activities like scrambling, rock climbing, sea kayaking and more, helping you explore the north-west Highlands in greater detail.
Stay in a rural cottage in Achiltibuie
“The cottage was very well provided for and everyone felt very relaxed as soon as we arrived. The location gave a great sense of being away from it all and the stunning views of the seascape and mountains were particularly special.” Ronnie, 11th July 2020
Reiff Beach Cottage is set right on the coast of west Scotland, so close to the sea that the beach is your garden! You could not get closer to the ocean if you tried and the views from the living room are outstanding. The house makes the most of its setting with great views from every room which have been optimised with lovely big windows and great feng shui. Everything about Reiff Beach Cottage is quality, it is full of character and charm with delightful decoration and quirky touches. Sleeping eight, this is the perfect spot for a family, or group of friends looking to cut themselves off from the world and enjoy the beauty and simplicity of nature.
Lochinver and Achiltibuie are all within reasonable driving distance from Ullapool so, for more information on what to do and see around the area, check out our guide to Ullapool which holds lots of useful ideas.
Read on to discover more remote holiday cottages in Scotland, many of which are dog-friendly too!
The village of Lairg is considered to be the gateway to the rugged lands of the northern Highlands, Sutherland, and is a delightful little spot surrounded by rolling hills, woodland, and mountains. It is nestled on the southern shores of Loch Shin, 17 miles in length, which is a nice place to spend time walking its bank and taking in all the nature. Whilst the village is small in size, it has quite a lot to offer including a range of places to eat, drink, shop and stay!
- Falls of Shin – an impressive waterfall lying 4 miles south of Lairg which is one of the best places in Scotland to see salmon jumping.
- Dunrobin Castle – the largest castle in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms and a wonderful walled garden. An iconic castle worth a visit!
- Dornoch – a traditional Highland village with an interesting past set close to the sea with a tremendous beach.
Stay in a rural cottage in Lairg
“Shinness Lodge is perfect for a stay with family and/or friends! You can spend your days exploring the beautiful surroundings of the northern Highlands and the evenings with cooking and sitting together in front of the fireplace. Perfect holiday location!” Sven, 2nd August 2020.
Shinness Lodge is an outstanding traditional hunting lodge dating back to the 1880s, set just 7 miles outside of Lairg, surrounded by woodland and amazing views. Sleeping 13 guests and welcoming two dogs, this is a great option for friends and family who are looking to spend quality time together in comfortable surroundings. The communal living areas are bright, homely, and spacious with a lovely open fire in the living room. The kitchen is large making it easy for everyone to cook together, and the dining room is the perfect place to host your nightly dinner parties. Outside, there is a BBQ patio overlooking the loch, where you can relax with morning coffees while children and pups enjoy the spacious enclosed garden. There’s also table tennis in the garage and fishing boats to enjoy!
Isle of Barra
The Island of Barra is the most southerly inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland and is one of the most remote islands in Scotland too. You can actually fly here, and land on the beach at Cockle Strand, between tides - that will surely give you an experience like no other! You can walk, cycle, drive and ride your way to happiness discovering endless white sandy beaches, craggy coastlines, and breathtaking scenery. There are companies offering boat tours and kayaking tours which will help you spot seals, dolphins, and whales if you are lucky. There is also a golf course and great places to eat dotted around the island. This would be a great and magical destination for a romantic rural retreat in Scotland or an option for those families who are in desperate need of a digital detox!
- Kisimul Castle – a 15th-century medieval castle which is the seat of the chief of Clan MacNeil, who settled on Barra in the 11th century.
- Barra Surf and Coastal Adventures – a company based at Castlebay offering water sports activities including snorkelling, surf lessons and paddleboarding.
- Isle of Barra Distillers – a young but established distillery offering informative tours and a nice shop where you can sample the island spirit.
Stay in a rural cottage on the Isle of Barra
“This was a fab cottage in a fantastic location; my husband, my oldest son, his wife and two grandchildren and the dog loved it also. The cottage was well laid out with a master bedroom, a second double and a room with two single beds perfect for the kids. It was very well equipped, with lovely garden furniture in the shed, which was useful for storing bikes, shoes and our kayak.” Mr Good, July 2019
Scutaig on the Isle of Barra is a charming cottage peacefully set on the water’s edge with great views out over the ocean, which can be enjoyed from most of the rooms. It is a great spot for a small family getaway or fun couples' retreat and is in the ideal place to get out and explore the wilderness of this Scottish island. The cottage is well equipped and comfortable inside, offering basic but homely accommodation to those who stay. With lots of sandy beaches and coves to explore, you can leave this cottage for daily explorations knowing you have a cosy place to come back to at night. The cottage has a great fenced garden which is a brilliant place for the kids and dogs to play safely, and to catch the sun when it comes out.
If you are keen to stay on a Scottish island, check out some more Scottish island destinations and plan your break today.
We have remote cottages throughout Scotland, from the wild west to the relaxed east coast, and the rugged north to the sophisticated south. Ranging in size and variety, we can offer up everything from luxury rural retreats by the sea to remote and wild log cabins in the woods. View the full collection and plan your next visit to Scotland today.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.