To conclude my mini-series of posts on the Tarbat Peninsula, (see my reviews of Bistro by the Sea & Seaweed n Stuff) I thought i’d write up a little visitors guide of things that you might want to see, eat, do and buy in this area!
WHAT TO SEE/DO ON THE TARBAT PENINSULA:
Mermaid of the North: Situated on the coastline off Balintore is this wonderful statue, perfectly positioned on a rock, and known as the Mermaid of the North. She is part of the Seaboard Sculpture trail. It’s well signposted as you come into Balintore, and while I caught sight of her at low tide, when the water comes in, it does cover her tail!
Portmahomack Beach: It couldn’t be easier to enjoy the beach at Portmahomack, with steps down to the sand from the main street.
The beach is a winner in this years Scottish Beach Awards, due to it keeping high standards in keeping the sand free from litter, providing information and accessible amenities.
Popular with walkers, the curve of the beach provides great views both of the village and harbour, as well as onto the Dornoch Firth.
Tarbat Discovery Centre: This independent museum displays many artefacts and displays to educate and inform visitors about Scotland’s Pictish history. The displays include finds from local archeological digs which tell the story of the Picts who lived from the 3rd – 9th centuries. The discovery centre is housed in an old church, and is open between April and October. With similar Pictish stones on display, you can also head to Nigg Old Church which is on the southern end of the peninsula.
Tarbat Golf Club: If you’re a golf fan, a 9 hole course just outside of Portmahomack which has a view of Ballone Castle, and the ‘Tee-up’ Cafe should be just the ticket!
Tarbet Ness lighthouse: For a striking building, look no further than this 1800’s lighthouse, right on the head of the peninsula, and a 10 minute drive from Portmahomack. As well as walking up to the lighthouse itself, you can also join the coastal path walk heading to Portmahomack or Rockfield.
WHAT TO BUY ON THE TARBAT PENINSULA:
ANTA Highland Showroom & Coffee Shop, Fearn: Perhaps a stop for a special gift or memento, ANTA has shops in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, and Fearn, near Balintore. The 34 year old ANTA story is fascinating, and all of their items beautiful.
Seaweed n Stuff: For preserves, chutneys, ice-cream and small homeware gifts on a nautical theme, Seaweed n Stuff has it all and you can read my post all about the shop here. (EDIT: Please note that this shop is now permanently closed)
Egg Box – Balmuchy Farm, Fearn: If you are staying in the area, you can pick up some local eggs at the Egg Box, Balmuchy Farm.
This isn’t a farm shop though – it’s eggs via vending machine!
And, as well as seeing the happy hens roam free, there are also some alpacas, taking it easy nearby.
WHERE TO EAT ON THE TARBAT PENINSULA:
Bistro by the Sea: See my review. (EDIT: Bistro by the Sea is now closed and has been replaced by Italian Touch as of March 2019).
The Oystercatcher: Recommended by some of the locals I spoke to, this mainly fish and seafood restaurant is immensely popular, often being booked up weeks in advance. If you’re treating yourself, they also have a small number of rooms available for B&B. This has definitely gone onto my Scottish bucket list!
Carnegie Hall Cafe: Carnegie Hall is busy with events and gigs, and it also has it’s own cafe which is open Mon-Tues, Fri-Sat and some Sundays in summer. Check their Facebook page for updates!
Castle Hotel, Portmahomack: Self-described as a cosy and comfortable pub, the dog-friendly Castle Hotel has fantastic views over the Dornoch Firth, with a good selection of beers including local craft hand pulled ales alongside other drinks, light snacks and dining options. There’s often live music, and an option to book into one of the four en-suite letting rooms.
As well as all these things, Portmahomack is the only westward facing village on Scotland’s east coast, so you can get some great sunsets from the beach. And, being on the east coast, it’s a midge-free zone!
Have I missed anything off this visitors guide? Let me know by leaving a comment!