“ Tel: 01876 540288 „
The Lobster Pot Tea Room in Berneray is very dear to my heart because I saw its birth, after the building of the majestic causeway which was completed in 1998 at a cost of £6.6 million. Until then Berneray was a tiny island fighting for survival, dependant on the weather to sail her tiny ferry across the sea to North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. With only a very small population of less than 130 at the time there was never a viable business opportunity to have a tea room on the island, or a supermarket of any size for that matter, but the improved links made possible a venture which was to create The Ardmaree Stores with its adjoining Lobster Pot Tea Room. I was so delighted to see this emerge as the island is my favourite in the world, and it is, for me anyway, the most peaceful place on earth. Now not only can I walk its shores in peace, but I can enjoy a lovely welcome in what has to be one of the most beautiful and hospitable tea rooms I have been to!
Before I talk about the café and what it has to offer I must explain exactly where I am taking you to, and how to complete the journey if you want to explore this beautiful part of the coastline of the British Isles. North Uist is one of the Outer Hebridean islands which can be reached either by plane from Glasgow into the Island of Benbecula which is south and joined by causeways, or by ferry, the most notable being from Skye, though you can also arrive here by ferry from the northern island of Harris. Arriving from North Uist takes you on one of my favourite drives. I often drive this route just for the pleasure, the single track road hugs the sea and on a sunny day the views are outstanding. You may see short eared owls, especially in the summer during the day, as they have young to feed and swoop and soar in the distance. If you are patient one will come to sit on a fence post close by. This coast road is magnificent and it takes you to the causeway where the first thing you notice is a sign "beware of otters" this is a real risk here and care should be taken in case one is crossing. I haven't seen one just there yet, but have narrowly missed several in locations very close to this point.
Over the causeway and then right will take you to the tea room and shop which is about 700 yards on the right. Here is the place to enjoy Hebridean hospitality at its best! We are very frequent visitors, and this summer we had two dogs with us so were able to take advantage of the summer weather and sit in the garden at the rear of the tearoom which is lovely! The views are very pretty looking out over the sea, and the colours are ever changing as the clouds are often very fast moving changing the light almost by the minute.
Most of our visits seem to be on rainy days, as sadly this inclement weather is quite frequent on the island, but inside the tea room is pure pleasure! The room is light and modern, and a delight to be in. There are a small number of tables and waitress service is the way they operate. The menu is simple, but perfect for what any visitor is looking for. The typical menu includes soup, various toasties and sandwiches, and every morning there is a full breakfast menu on offer. The cakes are beautiful especially the "Passion Cake" which is always one of our main reasons to visit as it is gorgeous with creamy icing and lots of nuts! They have the puddings ready on the servery area so you can eye them up. I rather love the scones and pancakes too! The soups are always home made and are delicious and there is always a vegetarian option.
There is a small selection of outdoor wear to purchase, which is a reflection of the visitors and their needs as this area is very popular with walkers, campers and those in motor homes. The café also has local art work on the walls which looks lovely and makes the place feel very much in keeping with the surroundings. Some of these items are for sale, which I feel affords valuable income for the local economy of what is an economically challenged area.
Sometimes when we visit there is a friendly gull who knocks on the window hoping for a crust - obviously someone has given him one on more than one occasion- but it is highly entertaining to watch!
The service is excellent in the café and although busy at lunchtimes it is always possible to find a table. On the rare occasions you have to wait a wee while- it is so beautiful to just sit and stare that it really doesn't matter! The views go all the way over towards Harris.
The prices are very reasonable indeed and the china they use adds a touch of charm to the menu as it is always beautiful.
What we usually do is to enjoy a meal here and then carry on down to the beach where we spend hours just beachcoming and collecting seashells. These beaches are littered with orange and yellow shells which I collect and make into necklaces to wear at home. You can have the beach all to yourself except for a few seals bobbing in the bay - it's utter paradise. In July there are fields of poppies and corn marigolds which are blaze of yellow and red stretching as far into the distance as you can see.
In many ways the charm of this café lies in its remote location. Before it was built a visit to the island would generally require some careful planning and certainly a rucksack full of provisions collected from North Uist. Now you can plan a trip based around the tea rooms as they are situated before you drive down the road to gain beach access from one of the many possible places along the shoreline. You can also stock up at the adjacent shop which carries everything you could possible need for a day out here.
The tea room changed ownership a couple of years ago and the couple have kept the tea room just as it was - a lovely and friendly Hebridean delight!
The Lobster Pot Tea Room
5a Borve, Berneray, North Uist HS6 5BJ
Tel: 01876 540288