The little waterfall tumbles through woodland and down the hillside. In the branches above, colourful Tibetan-style prayer flags flap in the breeze.
It’s an idyllic scene, framed by the window of the kitchen that overlooks it. Scone Spy is arrested by the view. As we wait at the counter to settle our bill we agree this has been one of the most scrumptious outings we have had; a feast of not one, but of all our senses.
The Coach House Café was once the post office in the tiny picture-postcard village of Tomich, a secret gem in Highland tourism’s glorious crown.
Manageress Joyce Stirling knows it. She follows our gaze through the window. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” she beams as she bustles over to take our cash.
“I marvel at that view every morning when I’m in at the crack of dawn baking the scones and cakes. I can’t think of a better job to have, baking and being in such a lovely place.”
And now we have the answer to what creates a tip-top bake – it’s not just about the right ingredients and the knowhow, it’s all about the love and joy that goes into it.
We (Scone Spy took some pals along) stumbled on this enchanting Victorian conservation village in spectacular Glen Affric during a short break exploring the countryside around Loch Ness.
It was worth the detour. Peace reigns and all that can be heard is the wind in the trees and the babble of a neighbouring burn.
The tiny hamlet – a cluster of pretty lead-windowed stone cottages, punctuated by ornate Victorian street lamps – sits beside the Guisachan Estate, also known as the ancestral home of the Golden Retriever dog.
Now ruined, the once-grand house was the home of rich Victorian brewer and MP Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, who later became Lord Tweedmouth.
Having bought the estate in 1854, he founded the Golden Retriever breed there in 1868. But we’re here for the scones – preceded by a little light lunch.
There’s Guisachan beef or venison burgers served in a roll with salad and coleslaw, salad bowls with couscous or bulgur wheat, home-made soup, paninis – half paninis for the kids, if required – bacon, haggis, egg and sausage rolls or a combination of all, and home bakes to die for.
We go for brie and pesto and cheese and onion paninis followed by bakes. The savoury choices are delicious but it’s the sweets that gain our overall stamp of approval; delicious lemon drizzle cake, tasty carrot cake and a lip-smacking Tiffin and, oh, the scones.
We chose one fruit, and one cheese. Each was served with lashings of cream and jam.
With just the right amount of crunch and crumble, they melted in the mouth and were off-the-scale delicious.
The Coach House Café is definitely something to write home about!
Coach House Cafe, Tomich, Beauly
Warm, friendly and comfortable – just like being at your auntie’s! 9/10
This place could not be more picturesque. You will need a car to get here but it’s worth the journey. 9/10
Scrumptious! Melt-in-the-mouth and some of the best we’ve ever tasted. 9/10