The Western Isles – Or There And Back Again XIV

By Bernie Bell

Much of interest, in Ullapool

So, we caught the ferry from Stornoway, to Ullapool, on a beautiful, sunny day.

We checked in at Croft 17 again, and went into Ullapool on a very busy, sunny Saturday evening.  We ate at the Seaforth Bar & Restaurant, by the harbour, which has a good , straight-forward pub atmosphere, with well cooked, straight-forward food.  Three ladies sat at the next table to us, and, raising their glasses, toasted each other with “Well done”.  So, I raised my glass and said “I don’t know what it is you’ve done – but well done from me, too!”  It turns out that these three and a companion who had stayed behind after settling the horses for the night, were riding from the East coast to the West coast of Scotland, in aid of Macmillan Cancer charity.  They had successfully done the first ‘leg’ of their trip, had come out for fish and chips, and aimed to do another 18 miles the next day.  Mike and I gave them a donation, and, if you’d like to, too – here’s where to go to do so: Macmillan Coast to Coast

Next morning, we had meant to go to the Inchnadamph Bone Caves, but it was mizzling, so the always helpful Jaimie at Croft 17, suggested a circuit we could do in the car, which would give us an idea of the area, even through the mizzle, and she wrote down the main points of interest, on the route, for us.

We went into Ullapool tourist information centre, to check out the road ahead.  And that’s when we got a surprise.  I saw a flier for a tea room by the harbour, in Ullapool, and on that flier was a picture of the owners, one of which, was Jo Philby, who we know from Orkney, mainly as a singer.  Now, on Orkney, if someone sneezes, everyone knows about it, so I couldn’t see how Jo could have moved, without us knowing. So, we decided to go and investigate, and maybe surprise Jo, at ‘Tea by the Sea’. We found it, along the harbour road, with this view…

Ullapool - Tea By The Sea B Bell

Jo and friend Joanne have opened this tea room and shop, as a joint venture. Jo hasn’t left Orkney, she still lives there and divides her time between ‘Tea by the Sea’ in Ullapool, and working on her music, in Orkney, with a new c.d. entitled – very appropriately – ‘Standing by the Shore’, just released.

Ullapool has a few places to eat, good places, too, and a couple of very ‘Tartan & Shortbread’ shops.  ‘Tea by the Sea’ has filled a niche for a place which sells good, light lunches, and also genuinely Scottish produced items.  Orcadian readers may recognize the ‘Hume Sweet Hume ‘ brooch on the model in the photo!

I’m not knocking ‘Tartan & Shortbread’ shops, they serve a purpose, and each to their own, but ‘Tea by the Sea’ definitely provides a source of more unusual, hand-picked gifts, souvenirs or a treat for yourself! I got a packet of salted caramel fudge.  I’m a sucker for fudge – when I can’t get Tablet, next choice is fudge – and it was so good that, when we got home, I rationed myself and made it last nearly a week!  Not bad, for a bear who likes sweet things. Everything in the shop, is sourced and chosen with care, both the foodstuffs, and the ….nice things!

It was 11 in the morning, so we didn’t eat there, just had a cuppa.  Within minutes of opening, the place was busy with folk eating in the café and browsing in the shop.  I heard one woman at the table next to us, marvelling at the food and exclaiming that they have “Nothing like this” where they live.

All the best to Jo and Joanne in their new venture. They’ve put a lot of thought and hard work into ‘Tea by the Sea’ and deserve to do well.

By the by, when the weather is fine, you can have your tea, across the road, sitting on the harbour wall, with that view – and if that isn’t nice, what is?

Interested to read more? You can find the other articles in the series by Bernie Bell by using our search button. 

Jo Philby Tour Dates

Jo Philby albumFriday 1st June – Tongue Village Hall, Sutherland 7.30pm  Start 8pm
Saturday 2nd June – The Weem Inn, Aberfeldy – 01887 820381 Support for The Black Feathers  Start 7pm
Sunday 3rd June – The Mortal Man, Troutbeck – 015394 33193  Start 8pm
Thursday 7th June – The Herschel Arms, Slough – Start 9pm
Friday 8th June – Shaftesbury Arts Centre, The Rutter Room  – 01747 854321   Start 7.30pm
Thursday 14th June – The Official Shelley theatre, Bournemouth – 01202 413600  Start 7.30pm
Sunday 17th June – Tea By The Sea, Ullapool – 01854 613734  Start 8pm (Bookings)
Saturday 23rd June – Stenness Community Hall – Bookings via or Facebook

Friday 6th & Saturday 7th July – Melness Festival at Melness Community Hall
Sunday 8th July – The Seaforth, Ullapool – FREE
Friday 20th July – Skaill House, Sandwick Orkney – 01856 841501

Saturday 11th August – Tea By The Sea, Ullapool – 01854 613734  Start 8pm (Bookings)
Sunday 12th August – The Seaforth, Ullapool – FREE
Saturday 25th August – Woodwick House – 01856 7513330 Start 8pm (Bookings)
Sunday 26th August – TBC Orkney


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