Brian Sutherland got away from it all whilst staying at the newly opened Sail Loft Bunkhouse at Portsoy on the Moray Coast.
Portsoy is a wee village in the North East of Scotland. It’s ancient harbour is beautiful. In fact it features as the harbour on Todday in the film which is out soon called Whisky Galore starring Gregor Fisher. Many locals had parts as extras in the film and enjoyed the experience. The harbour and village celebrate the regions heritage by hosting the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival annually. This year it is being held on the 24 and 25 of June and you will enjoy an event to remember if you can go.
The Sail Loft Bunkhouse in Portsoy is some East of the harbour in a sheltered bay with a wee beach just out in front. The term Bunkhouse could be misleading as it is really in the top league of hostels. It is so well appointed. You will not be disappointed.
It was a place where sails were made and stored for the boats of the day. The Herring Fleet sailed round Britain and there is no doubt in my mind that the Sail Loft would have provided new sails to meet demand from the hard worked boats.
The Sail Loft Bunkhouse is a magnificent restoration of three buildings. The long Sail Loft, a Georgian house and a cottage. From the outside they look as they would have looked from the beginning. There is a twist in this story. Open a door and step inside and WOW!
A whole new world of modern design embraces visitors. A spacious well appointed lounge with a wood burning stove entices you. The kitchen dining area is also state of the art. Two microwave/grills provide cooking facilities. The Trust and the staff spent time living in the hostel and tried out everything to experience the place before welcoming in paying guests. They wanted the hostelling experience to ensure that their guest were getting the best experience possible. The staff are lovely people.
Another experience which is not uncommon in hostels is that you leave the lounge/kitchen area and walk outside to the sleeping quarters. On a dark night you can gaze at the incredible Milky Way for a few minutes. When it’s raining enjoy the rain on your face. It is refreshing and reminds us of the real world. If you are lucky you might see the Aurora Borealis also known as the Northern Lights and The Merry Dancer. I have watch these curtains of light changing moving and it is a great sight to see.
When we opened the door to our room Joshua went straight in and draped himself over a bed and said “This is mine”. He is becoming a true hosteller. Two nights in the most comfortable of beds. Mattresses to sleep for. I would welcome one in my bed any time … soon please.
In the garden which is taking shape thanks to the work of the gardener is a hot tub heated by a log burning boiler. As Joshua is only nine we declined the opportunity to steam. Now to be steaming. Maybe. But not in front of the children.
I will certainly be spending time in the future in the Sail Loft. It is handy for touring the North East of Scotland or as a stopping off place when on holiday.
I am sailing, I am sailing to that comfy bed by the sea. (With a nod to Rod)
Thank you to the Team at the Sail Loft lead by Roger Goodyear Co-Chairman of Portsoy Community Enterprise for giving me so much of their time. I shall return!
Places to see from The Sail Loft Portsoy.
The beaches at Sandend and Cullen.
Williamson Play Barn at Turrif.
Finlater Castle ruins.
The Castle Trail including Fyvie Castle.
Whisky at Glenglassaugh Whisky Distillery
Macduff Marine Aquarium
Strathislay Whisky Distillery Keith
and the Speyside Distilleries.
The Whisky Trail
Dolphin watching at Speybay and along the coast.
Buckie Harbour for commercial fishing boats etc.
Walk the Speyside Way
You can pick up the Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail at Macduff and walk to St Cyrus/ Stonehaven.
Cycling. Off the major roads there are hundreds of miles of relatively safe cycling in the North East. Enjoy.
One thing is certain there is plenty to do in the North East and The Sail Loft is a good base to tour from.
Find The Sail Loft Portsoy on our Map of the Cairngorms, Moray and East Scotland