“ Camp site in a picturesque location in Scotland. „
Review of Halladale Inn Caravan and Camping Park, Melvich, Scotland.
Halladale Inn Caravan and Camping Park is situated in the far north of Scotland. The Inn is in the small coastal village of Melvich which is 17 miles west of Thurso on the A836 North Coast Road.
The camp-site is fairly close to the road, but as this is not a busy area, noise from traffic is most definitely not an issue.
==The Camp-site and Facilities==
We discovered this camp-site during a two month motor home tour of Scotland last year. We had been 'wild camping' for around two weeks previously and were in dire need of a camp-site We had driven through Thurso in order to stock up on food and found the Halladale Inn quite by chance.
Halladale Inn itself is an impressive stone built pub situated high above Melvich beach. We did not notice that the Inn had a camp-site until we had driven past, so turned back and parked up in order to investigate.
On entering the bar to enquire about the camp site, I was greeted very warmly by the publican. He explained the tariff for staying on the camp-site and once I had paid, gave me keys for the site facilities.
The camp-site was very quiet when we arrived, one caravan and us. However, shortly after we had pitched up, a VW camper van arrived and booked in too. This vehicle was home to a very pleasant pair of middle aged ladies and we struck up conversation during the ensuing evening and spent a very pleasant couple of hours enjoying their company, the scenery and some very good coffee!
We had been asked by the owner not to park on the grass areas as recent rain had made this area somewhat soggy, however there were about 14 hard standing pitches to choose from, all with optional electric hook-up. We selected a pitch overlooking the beach. A field bordered by a stone wall separated us from the actual cliff top, my (late) collie was with us and he was entranced by the antics of lambs in this field, the old herding instincts kicking in, I suppose!
Facilities on the site are basic, but very good, clean and inviting. As mentioned, campers are given their own keys to the shower facilities, this is to discourage abuse from non-residents, a problem I remember well from my days working on a camp-site There is nothing more irritating than to find non residents have been in your shower block, used up all the hot water or making a mess!
The rather chunky bunch of keys consisted of a key for the ladies shower, one for the mens, a key for the fresh water filling point and one for the information centre, which incidentally also housed the laundry facilities and washing up sinks.
The showers were very good indeed, each block consisted of three toilet cubicles, a line of three washbasins set into a work surface all with hot and cold water and mirrors above the basins. The water was always nice and hot and there were plenty of waste bins, paper towels and so on. Lighting was adequate, but not overly bright and there were a couple of chairs for users comfort. The facilities only had two showers, each inside a well sized, lockable cubicle. The shower cubicles had very generous curtains around the actual shower tray and a handy deep shelf inside the cubicle for your toiletries. The shower tray was slightly raised which meant the water was contained and did not flood the floor.
A chair, several coat hooks, a hair-dryer and a large flat dressing table type area with a vanity mirror were also provided. The lighting was much better in the shower areas, so anyone wanting to apply make up would do well to use these opposed to the mirrors above the wash basins!
The showers themselves were a joy to use, lovely hot water, easy to operate temperature controls and so much floor space to dry and dress that it was almost as good as at home!
There is also a chemical toilet disposal point for caravan and motor home users. This was actually one of the most basic I have ever come across, merely a lid over a manhole, which when lifted revealed a wide meshed grid into which you emptied the waste tank. There was a tap connected in order to swill the waste away. It was basic, but clean and effective, just not awfully pleasant to use!
The laundry was excellent, two full sized washing machine and a tumble dryer. These are generally operated by tokens available to purchase for £2.50 each from the bar. When I went to buy some, the landlord very kindly gave me a handful of tokens free of charge! Having been on the road, so to speak, for some time, this was a very welcome gift and I was able to wash all our clothes, towels and so on during our two night stay. The laundry is located within the information centre, this is well stocked with leaflets and useful information about the area.
Camp sites users can of course use the Halladale Inn. We did not eat in the pub's restaurant ourselves, however the ladies we became friendly with did, and they seemed well satisfied with the food on offer. I did read the menu while in the pub and it was fairly comprehensive offering a good selection of local, traditional Scottish dishes and old favourites such as Lasagne and Steak Pie.
Naturally given the coastal location, fish seemed very prevalent on the menu.
I am a vegetarian and have to say that the veggie options were not particularly appealing to me. Macaroni Cheese or pizza Margharita are both nice enough dishes, but at £8+ not really appealing enough!
Light meals and snacks are available at lunchtime and the Inn offers a wide selection of sandwiches and rolls.
==Things To Do In The Area==
Walking, beaches, birdwatching, fishing, golf and The Castle and Gardens of Mey, the former holiday home of the late Queen Mother, are just a few of the attractions to be found comparatively locally.
The gorgeous Melvich Bay beach is a 20 minute walk away from the camp site. The track to the beach slopes downward rather steeply, however those who prefer to drive to the beach can do so and a pay and display car park is available. The sandy beach itself lies beyond a stretch of beautiful sand dunes. These are dotted with the most amazing array of wild flowers. The bird life in the dunes was fascinating to see and to my shame, I did not know the names very many of the birds I saw. Seals are a fairly common sight in this area, but sadly we were not lucky enough to see any.
Our visit was in late May 2010 and the weather was warm and sunny. We spent a very pleasant day on the beach watching the surfers and enjoying the scenery. The beach is safe for children to play on and it is very, very clean. The bay is tidal so obviously caution is called for if swimming. The beach is really huge, even though there were many groups of families on the beach, it still felt spacious and uncrowded. There are several walking trails in the area for those who want something more strenuous.
The coastline is dotted with lovely beaches, so if Melvich Beach palls, there are other beaches in easy driving distance.
The town of Thurso is around 17 miles away where there can be found a good range of shops, bars and restaurants. For people wanting a trip out to the Orkney Islands, there is a ferry service from either Gills Bay or Scrabster and from the famous John O'Groats, seal watching boat trips can be booked.
John O'Groats is noted for being the most Northerly point in the British Isles, however in reality, nearby Dunnett Head is more Northerly!
To be honest, this is not a destination for those wanting a bustling resort, it is definitely more suited to those who enjoy a quieter and more rugged outdoor type of holiday.
==Prices and Booking==
Halladale Inn camp-site is very reasonable in price, based on 2 adults, Motor Homes, Caravans and Trailer Tents are priced at £15.00 per night. Electric Hook-up is charged at an additional £2.00 per night
Tents cost £5.00 per person per night. Under 5's are free, Children up to 16 years of age £2.50.
The Inn also have four self-catering chalets available for holiday lets, these are situated about 100 yards from the Inn in separate area, they cost from £175-£225 per week dependant on season and each chalet can sleep up to four people.
Only having used the camp site, I cannot comment on the quality or facilities within the chalets.
Bookings can be made via the Halladale Inn website, http://www.halladaleinn.co.uk, by 'phone (01641 531282), or by writing Halladale Inn Camping, Melvich, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7YJ.
We did not book in advance, we simply arrived and booked in. I have to say that as the site is small, just 8 tent pitches and space for around 14 caravans or motor homes, it is probably more sensible to book in advance, especially in peak holiday times.
==My Thoughts and Conclusion==
Halladale Inn camp-site is in my opinion, a wonderful place to stay. The scenery and location are second to none. The Inn owner, Mr Fling, was welcoming and very helpful. The pub is child and dog friendly, although of course dogs must be kept on a lead and under control. Dogs are also welcome on the camp site under the same conditions.
We really enjoyed our stay at Halladale, the site had everything we look for in a camp site. We don't particularly want amusements or entertainment, so Halladale Inn was ideal for us. We had as previously mentioned, been wild camping prior to our arrival at Halladale and the simple luxury of a shower and hot water was sheer heaven!
Being located on the very top coastline of Scotland, Halladale is probably the furthest away from home (Kent) that I can get without leaving the UK. It is certainly a camp site that I would be happy to use again and would recommend to those wishing to visit the North of Scotland.
There probably isn't enough to keep a family amused for a fortnight, but as a base for touring or walking, Halladale Inn camp-site is ideal in my opinion.
I feel that this camp site is worthy of a 4* rating and it is one that I would be happy to re-visit and recommend to others, with the proviso that it is not an all singing, all dancing type of site!
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 September 2011.
**UPDATE June 2012**
I have just returned from a touring holiday in Scotland. On May 8th 2012, we tried to book into this camp-site again as we had enjoyed our previous stay. Unfortunately, we were unable to book in as the camp site was full, having allocated all their pitches for the foreseeable future to workmen who are in the area working on electrical improvements. I don't blame the owners as of course these workers will be paying pitch fees, buying food and drink at the pub and so on, but we were disappointed and I would hate anyone to turn up at Halladale on the strength of my review and be turned away too! I would suggest readers telephone to confirm they can stay on the site.
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.