Strathpeffer is a village about 15 miles north-west of Inverness and 4 miles due west of Dingwall. It is beautifully located at the head of the River Peffery Valley in the Scottish Highlands, with the wooded Fannich Hills to the west and Ben Wyvis, at 3429 ft, to the north. Just along from the Cromarty Firth is Strathpeffer, which gets busy in the summer with coach parties, but it’s a pleasant place and there are some excellent walks in the surrounding hills.
Strathpeffer was a prominent and popular 19th century Spa resort, the most northerly of any three such resorts in Scotland. The area boasted both sulphur and chalybeate waters, renowned for their therapeutic qualities, and even more renowned latterly for their distinctive taste and smell! Apart from losing the main pump room, Strathpeffer remains largely intact. The hotels and villas are still here as is the Spa Pavilion, which has just been restored to it’s former glory and is once more a main feature of the village after years in a sorry state of dilapidation.
Strathpeffer also has a great deal of historical interest, not least Castle Leod. Castle Leod is one of the few castles inhabited by the same family for the past few hundred years. Today it is really a family house and home to the Earl of Cromartie – the Chief of the Clan Mackenzie. As we shall see Eagle Stone (Clach an Tiompain), Strathpeffer’s unique character owes its origin to its development in the Victorian era.
The Strathpeffer and District Pipe Band and local Highland dancers perform in the square every Saturday from end May to September, and this is a popular gathering for both visitors and residents. Nearby is Castle Leod, seat of the Earl of Cromartie, Chief of the Clan Mackenzie, which is now open to the public several times a year. The annual Strathpeffer Highland Gathering, one of the longest-established Highland Games in Scotland, takes place in the grounds of Castle Leod every August.
Victorian spa village – Strathpeffer is the perfect base from which to visit the west coast – Ullapool is less than an hour away, while the NHS gardens at Inverewe and the Isle of Skye are both within easy reach for day trips. Other super journies can easily be made to Dunrobin Castle or John o Groats in the North or the Cairngorm National Park to the south.