Challenge Preparation: Inns, Cafés & Eating Places

Keep these posts coming they say. OK! For this one I thought I’d look at those important places to eat and drink while you are crossing. These places are important to all of us, although more important to some!

The idea here is for me to start the thread and for other experienced Challengers to add to the list! Obviously, I’ve not been to all of them! Anyhow, here’s a start list for you all to add to!


Starting Places



Head for the Cornerstone Restaurant. This will probably be the freshest seafood that you will have ever eaten. If you are planning on one decent meal when crossing, then this is the place if you are in Mallaig. Probably the best seafood restaurant I’ve ever eaten in. I think they also run to take away/chip shop which is also amazing and a little cheaper.


I have fond memories of the Strathcarron Hotel. Apparently it changes hands regularly but the bar food is very good.


I think the Torridon Inn is the place people drink in!


The food at the Dornie Hotel is pretty good and you’ll find Challengers here. There’s also a bar just along the street which is busy and atmospheric. There always seem to be plenty of people eating here, so it should be fine.


The hotel is the main place to eat. Eat in the bar and not the restaurant. There is a chip shop opposite but I seem to remember it wasn’t open when Ipassed through.


On The Trail

Tomdoon Hotel

You’ll come this way from Mallaig and also from Shiel Bridge. When I stayed here the place seemed to be run by a man who modelled himself on John Cleese. Nevertheless the restaurant is very good. I think he allows you to camp in the grounds if you eat in the Hotel.

Fort Augustus

A number of places here, decent bars and a reputably good chip shop, although I haven’t eaten here.


There’s a restaurant pub in the village which I think is called the Tomich Inn. Pretty standard pub fare. As you approach the campsite there is an old, disused hotel at the win cross roads. The bar here is still open and run some Poles I think. They do have some bar food available during the Challenge and when I was there is was pretty good!


Head for the Monaliadth Arms. Most likely you will have approached from Garva Bridge and a decent early start will see you here for lunch. A very friendly place with good value bar food — after all this could be your first real food since the start. They allow you to camp in the grounds I think. Most people will want to move on though. The lovely Glen Truim Campsite is only an hour or so down some lovely little lanes. Netwonmore is only a hope away along the cycle route. Across the bridge is Laggan Stores which also sells snacks and provisions. A few minutes on from the hotel (on the way to Glen Truim) there is a cafe and bunkhouse.


Assuming you want to avoid the Loch Ness Monster Centre you will find a couple of good cafes and a pub just off the village green. The pub has good beer and decent food. It does close early at lunchtime though but if you g into the cafe next door you can have the same food and beer as it is owned by the same people. (I’ve always found this a little weird but there you go!). You’ll meet a lot of people here. If coming from Cannich don’t start too late and you’ll be in time to have a leisurely lunch and cross the afternoon boat over the Loch if you want.

Coran Ferry

There are pubs on either side of the water. The first one you will come to finishes serving food early in the afternoon, so don’t hang around if you want feeding. There is no shop here! If you are approaching from Glen Gour then take the old road into Ardgour rarher than the main road. Here you will find food and provisions available, and you will avoid the worst of the traffic!


The bar at the Silverfjord Hotel seems pretty popular with locals. The food here is pretty good.


Not a place I usually stop at and most of my visits have been off-Challenge. The Cairngorm Hotel, in the centre of the village opposite the Station, is pretty good and serves decent beer and food. There is a very popular hostel here and a popular pub next door. A little further down the road one of the best gear shops has a café on top. This is pretty good but a little pricey.


If staying at the campsite you will have passed the Hilton Hotel on your left just before the campsite entrance. You don’t have to stay there! The separate Woodshed Bar is happy to cater for smelly walkers. A limited menu but the last time I was here it was good. Serves good beer from the Cairngorm Brewery. Anywhere you see Cairngorm Brewery Beer — you should buy some!


The Old Bakery on the High Street welcomes Challengers with a special breakfast menu. Makes an early start from Derry Lodge or White Bridge a must! They also serve food throughout the day and into the early evening. The Fife Arms remains the place to find Challenge revellers. I’ve not enjoyed the food here but I may have been unlucky.  The Moorfield House Hotel up the hill is now becoming very popular and the food is reputably good. This is venue for the Bingo Wings concert. The Gathering Place Bistro is near the turn to the campsite. I had a lovely meal here once and they didn’t seem to mind the smells coming off my socks. The Hungry Highlander chip shop is legendary but there is some doubt as to whether it will be still open. If it is then in all honesty there is no need to eat anywhere else! The Taste Cafe as you come into town looks good and is reported to be good, though it looks worryingly clean for an early visit!


There’s a lot of choice here. There’s a good family run Italian and a chef from the posh restaurant recently won a TV cookery competition. I usually head for the Alexander Hotel as do many hoers. A nice warm welcome is guaranteed and the bar food is good. Eat in the bar rather than the restaurant.


The girl at the hostel will force feed you bacon sandwiches if you let them. In the evening they produce simple but good baked potato meals. The Retreat down the road now caters for Challengers camping on the sports ground. They appear in late afternoon to take orders and will deliver some pretty decent pod right to our tent! The Refuge also serves breakfasts — it is one the way out and you have to pass anyway.


The Tuck Inn on the High Street is a must for all of those ambling boards St Cyrus. Wonderful home made meals and superb Knickerbocker Glories! Yes, you’ve earned it by now. This is probably the best meal of the crossing as Challengers crowd inside and — if wet outside — clouds of steam envelop the place!


Oh dear, Montrose is a bit of a car crash town. There is a decent Indian on the High Street which is seems to be able to cater for a deluge of Challengers at the drop of a hat. A very standard Chinese is a hop away. There is a chip shop which will deep fry your candy bar of choice, if that is your thing! The bar meals at the Park Hotel are OK though eat early on Dinner Day as all hands then are set to serve the rubber chicken. If you’re here for a rest day the coffee pot cafe is OK. Mostly though I settle in the bar of the Park. Just wish the beer was better!

Over to those who are more experienced!



  1. If you’re feeling flash and that you really deserve it, I can recommend the Cross at Kingussie it is quite wonderful, but expensive.

    I can also recommend a great spot to finish: The Creel Inn at Catterline : Winderful food and friendly helpful staff.

    If I think of more, Andy, i’ll come back and add some links.
    Good idea, this!

  2. Peewiglet says

    A great start to this monumentally important task, Andy *g*

    You’ve mentioned several of the ones I’d have mentioned already, so I’ll go and trawl my food-related archives (very extensive, as you’ll appreciate) for more.

    In the meantime, though, I must mention the quite fantastic little cafe/bakery that John Hesp and I stumbled across in 2009 after finishing at the Nether Warburton nature reserve. We set off along the A92 towards Montrose on foot in the hope of spotting a distant bus and flagging it down, but within what I’m fairly sure what was only about 5 minutes we spotted a little sign on the grass verge in front of us, labelled ‘Coffee Shop: Home Baking: Charleton Farm’. We were hungry and so we turned right off the main road, and minutes later arrived at what felt to me like some sort of foody wonderland! We both had fantastic goat’s cheese and sundried tomato salads, and I had a smoothy made with home-grown organic raspberries (I think) while John had something equally lovely. It was the best food I ate all the way across Scotland, and one of the most enjoyable surprise meals of my entire life. Worth finishing at Nether Warburton just to eat there! Yum 🙂

    See here for pictures:

  3. Carl Mynott (@Locomountaineer) says

    I’m looking forward to Tarfside already now and I’ve never been, am I’m not even on the participant list yet!

    Thanks again Andy.

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