Gartymore is a beautifully untouched area of east Sutherland. The area is largely croft land currently owned by Sutherland estate, and was one of the crofting townships that received tenants during the notorious Highland Clearances. The area is rich in heritage, and residents of Gartymore were instrumental in the land league movement the led to the formation of the crofting commission, their achievements are commemorated by the monument located a short walk away from the croft, and Timespan Heritage centre in Helmsdale has archives that are open for investigating. There is also a great deal of archaeology, the most widely known being the Cairn 'o Liath, which can be clearly seen as you travel north from Golspie towards Brora, and also the Camster Cairns which are outside Lybster - these are only a couple of many brochs, cairns and standing stones which can be found within easy travelling distance.
The surrounding area is rich in wildlife: deer, buzzards, golden eagles, dolphins, lizards and slow worms have all been seen from the garden of the croft, and the open hillside is quite literally on the other side of the door. There are otters, pine martins, and a wealth of birds to spot and photograph in the surrounding area if you are lucky, even if you don't get a picture of an eagle there are plenty of beautiful views to photograph instead.
A little further afield are the flows at Forsinard, where the RSPB's beautiful observatory tower enables you to see for miles across the heather. The nearest sandy beaches are at Loth, Brora, Golspie and Dornoch but there are plenty to explore further north as well.
The croft is only 1 1/2 hours from John'O Groats, where you can book on a day tour of the Orkney Isles, or a boat trip around the islands to see the seals and the birds (puffins are most likely to be seen at the end of May, beginning of June). Dunrobin Castle, just outside Golspie (about 15 miles), has gardens open to the public year round and the house is open Easter - September, with regular falconry displays which are an absolute must. The Castle of Mey, near Thurso, is also worth a visit; it is an enjoyable day for all the family and has a small petting zoo.
There is much to offer in terms of sporting activities, with fishing being a major attraction. The river Helmsdale has public waters that can be fished on a day permit using flies and there are lochs and sea fishing available within easy travelling distance. There are mountain bike trails in Golspie and the Kyle of Sutherland, and several golf courses, including the world renowned Royal Dornoch only a short distance away. Also there are lots of lovely walks within a short distance (or no distance!) of the croft, and some more challenging ones a little further afield.
After a busy day it is great to return to the croft, sit outside and listen to the sea (and the sheep), or curl up in front of the stove with a good book and a glass of wine. It feels like you are a million miles from anywhere!
- Sleep - 7
- Bedrooms - 4
(1 double with ensuite, 1 double, 1 twin, 1 single)
- Bathrooms - 2 (1 ensuite)
- Washing machine
- TV, DVD, CD player with ipod dock.
NB - there is no TV reception,
so TV is accessed via broadband,
the quality of the viewing is variable
- WiFi - free
- 3 wood burning stoves
- Oil central heating
- Travel cot and high chair
- Picnic bench
- Pets welcome
- Short breaks
- Helmsdale - 1.5 miles, Wick - 40 miles,
Tain - 45 miles
- Nearest airport - Inverness (70 miles)
- Nearest station - Helmsdale (1.5 miles)
- Pubs/restaurants - Helmsdale has a
fish & chip shop that does sit in,
a small cafe/restaurant that is excellent,
a pub that does bar meals, and a hotel
that does meals and cream teas
- Golf - Helmsdale (2 miles),
Brora (11 miles), Golspie (16 miles),
Dornoch (30 miles)
- Mountain bike trails: Golspie (16 miles)
- Fishing: Helmsdale (2 miles)
and various estates within 20 miles
- Surfing: Thurso (40 miles)
- Timespan Heritage Centre
and Art Gallery - Helmsdale
From the porch you enter through the original front doors of the house into the hallway. The family bathroom is off the porch, and the boot room, porch and bathroom have tiled floors and timber lined walls. The main living room is to the left - this is an L-shaped room with windows to the south and north, and has a large woodburning stove on a Caithness stone hearth which supplements the oil central heating (log fires are beautiful but not convenient first thing in the morning!). The beautiful timber staircase leads up to the double, twin and single rooms, all of which have coombed ceilings, carpeted floors and south facing windows with spectacular views. To the right of the stairs is the snug, a smaller living space with a woodburning stove set in the original stone fireplace.
Leaving the snug, a couple of steps lead down into the barn which was converted to provide a spacious kitchen/diner. The south facing window and door flood the kitchen with sunlight throughout most of the day. There is a range style electric cooker and well equipped kitchen with plenty of storage space, and a large table for everyone to gather around at meal times; on snowy winter nights the small woodburning stove makes this a cosy room to spend the evening with a meal and good conversation. A second staircase leads off the kitchen up to the master bedroom, which has an ensuite shower room and more stunning views over the Moray Firth. This room has coombed ceilings and timber paneled walls and was originally the hay loft. The hayloft door has been replaced with French doors, which open onto a decked area at the back of the house, and from there steps take you down to the garden at the front of the house.
Travelling north, follow the A9 through Golspie, Brora and Portgower. Approximately 1 mile after Portgower, there is a sign warning of a left turning on a bend, turn up this side road, it is signed to Gartymore, but you cannot see the sign until you are nearly at the junction, and there is a house on the junction. The road doubles back and climbs steeply up the hill. Follow this road straight across the cross roads (still climbing up hill), and keep going. The road levels out briefly, and at this point you will see Kate's Croft on the right hand side. There is space for parking outside the garage.
Travelling south, the turning for Gartymore is approximately 1 mile after leaving the village of Helmsdale, you can see the house on the junction and the road climbing up the hill as you approach the turning, then follow directions as above.
Oil central heating is included.
An initial supply of logs will be provided in the wood store outside the garage, this is generally enough for a fire in the large woodburner every evening for a week. Additional wood can be bought in Helmsdale or Brora.
Bed linen and towels are provided.
Pets: the garden is enclosed, although small dogs might be able to get out between the fence and the back wall. The surrounding crofts often have livestock on them, so please be mindful especially Jan-May when the sheep are near to lambing or the lambs are young.
A small welcome pack with some tea bags, sugar, coffee and milk. Tesco also deliver on selected days, which can be invaluable as the nearest reasonable sized super markets are in Tain (45 miles south) and Wick (40 miles north). There is a selection of books, games, jigsaws and toys.
Cost and availability:
Change over day is usually Saturday, 10am check out, 4pm check in
Short breaks - minimum 2 night stay, if the days are available there is flexibility with short breaks
To book this delightful self catering cottage near Helmsdale, click the enquiry button below and see availability and prices.
direct to the owner
Kate's Croft, 2 Gartymore, Helmsdale, Sutherland, KW8 6HJ