Located about 20 miles northwest of Inverness, you will come to the lovely village of Strathpeffer. You won't miss it if you are driving because it is right on the A834. It is a sheltered glen that was once a popular spa town in Victorian times due to the sulphur springs that were found here in the 18th
century. This village was the scene of fierce fighting between the MacKenzies and the MacDonalds in the 15th
century and later between the MacKenzies and the Munros. The MacKenzies won the battles in both cases.
There are many traces of the grandeur that existed here in the earlier days. As a renowned European health resort, the town was laid out so that there are wide streets, beautiful gardens and there are many hotels. The Spa Pavilion is now owned by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, which raised the funds to restore the building and then turned it over to a voluntary community group, Strathpeffer Pavilion Association, which is running it as a venue for the arts, conferences, weddings and other functions. Full details of forthcoming events are on our website. The pump room, located in the middle of Strathpeffer, dates back to 1819 and the pavilion dates back to 1880. This was built as a venue for entertainment and has been restored to its former beauty. The Upper Pump Room has also been restored and is being run by another local group. It is open from April to October and you can taste the (allegedly!) curative spa waters.
The railway would have brought many visitors to the town, but the intended route was for the line to go through the centre of Strathpeffer. However, disagreements with landowners prevented this from happening.
When you are in Strathpeffer, take time out from enjoying the scenery to visit the Highland Museum of Childhood. Here you can see videos that show you how children in earlier times played and spent their days. There are many displays and artefacts and hands on activities for children of all ages to enjoy. Tee off at the Strathpeffer Spa Golf Club, but if fishing is your passion you are in luck with a visit to this village. The Loch Achilty Trout Fishery is a 100acre loch that is well stocked with trout. Here you go out on the loch in a boat and practice your flyfishing skills. The Tarvie Lochs Trout Fishery features three lochs with abundant both brown and rainbow trout.
Strathpeffer is a popular base for hillwalkers, with many routes from the strenuous Munroe, Ben Wyvis, to forest walks. The nearby Pictish hill fort of Knock Farril affords spectacular views over the Cromarty Firth and surrounding mountains. It is not uncommon to see golden eagles and other rare wildlife in this area.
You will not be disappointed in anything that Strathpeffer has to offer. The village is largely unspoiled and contains a wealth of Victorian architecture. Strathpeffer now also has an increasingly famous Belgian chocolate maker, Maya just opposite the Pavilion where you can sample their very rich hot chocolate (or tea or coffee) as well as buying some of their wonderful chocolates. In addition, the former station now contains the Highland Museum of Childhood (also open April to October) and a variety of shops and craft outlets.
Highland Museum of Childhood
Museum of Childhood located in the old station.
Some photographs © Strathpeffer Pavilion