I have just hit the coffee shop jackpot. I had vaguely heard of this little place, tucked away in Glencoe village next to the MRT station, and I had seen the homemade sign on the roadside but it wasn’t until a particularly damp and miserable few days out West that I went in search of it.
Picture this, Fearless Jen and Siula Dog are damp, cold and if we are honest, a little bit grumpy. A glorious high pressure ridge had been loitering over Scotland all week bringing sunshine and happiness to the country but the moment SD and I had cleared out the weather closed in. Its pissing it down. Bloody typical. Enthusiastic and determined not to be defeated, I had today donned my running leggings, goretex jacket and trainers and dragged SD off for a canter up Glen Nevis valley. Five hundred metres in and I had nearly broken my leg on the slippy wet granite. A kilometre in and we were both soaked to the pants and freezing wading through peaty bog in monsoon like rain. We waded on for another five hundred metres before giving up on the running in disgust. To be fair once I had a bit of extra warm clothes on and had accepted the inevitable, no running and squelching trainers, it actually became quite an enjoyable little walk up the valley. Siula of course was having the time of her life splashing around and galloping up and down the hillside.
On retreat to the van Siula Dog received a half hearted attempt from me to dry her with an already damp towel and was now rolling around in glee at the world on the sofa. I now had to sort my own self out so did what any hard-core, self respecting, van adventuring girl and her dog would do; I closed the curtains, stripped all my wet clothes off and cranked the heating up full. Unfortunately this dose of heater was using up the last bit of battery juice I have left and this weather is predicted for the next week. Thankfully that was future Jen’s problem because right now Siula Dog and I are warm and drying out!
Some hours later we found ourselves back in Fort William, not to sure what to do next. The cloud base is at approximately ankle height and this proved to be the motivation to go recce this little café. Now I am a coffee and half in and I feel like I have discovered a hidden gem of Scotland.
The initial experience was a bit odd. I parked the Megabus opposite the café on the tiny little street and two old birds drinking their tea scowled at me through the window. Walking into the café itself I felt like I was intruding in someone’s house. Step up past the sodden brollies and plastic ponchos left on the steps and push open a front door you would more expect on Mrs Smith’s two-bed bungalow than on a shop. The café is surprisingly full and all the sofa loungers stop and stare at me as I stick my head round the door instantly making me feel like I’m somewhere I’m not supposed to be. Moving through however the room opens up to the right, the coffee drinkers go back to minding their own business and one of the waitresses gives me a warm smile. A softly spoken gentleman greets me and brews me up one of the best tasting coffees I have had in a while, no bitterness and exactly the right amount of froth. I ask him what sweet choice from the cabinet he recommends and he tells me the orange sponge is particularly good. He also assures me it is only half the calories… if I only eat half of it. The sponge is perfectly cooked with a light fluffy icing; much like a cake my Gran might have whipped up in her Kenwood for afternoon tea for me as a kid.
I perch my bum at a high table on a comfy chair and enjoy my treats looking out the big side window. The view us remarkable; the mountains feel very close and through the rain I can make out the sheer walls of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh to the right and the rough sides of Sgorr na Ciche to the left. Winter still lurks at the summits of the mountain and the snow filled gullies at the top of the walls give create a dark sense of foreboding. The ominous, towering mountains and lashing rain are in contrast with the cosy, safe café I peer at them from.
The café itself is cleanly decorated. All the furnishing have a heaviness to them indicating quality. Even the token display of tourist trinkets, obligatory for all shops on the West coast, feel a high calibre, they are things you might actually want in your home rather than the usual tat stamped with a thistle or engraved with a picture of the Loch Ness Monster. My overall impression, as I watch the softly spoken gentleman carefully wipe off the condensation from the glass front of his cake cabinet, is one of people who care desperately about their food and care their guests. The coffee is delicately flavoured and the perfect temperature. The atmosphere is warm and friendly and the views are spectacular yet unobtrusive, the casualness of the café under the giant steep mountain faces and torrential rain are at odds, this is strangely calming.
What an excellent place to warm a dampened spirit and spend a soggy afternoon.