By Katherine LaGrave. Photos: Getty.
On the western coast of Scotland, after you’ve gone over the Pass of the Cattle, looped back down through Strathcarron, Attadale, and Stromeferry, and before you head 12 miles over the A87 bridge to Isle of Skye, you’ll find Plockton, an unassuming town on the southern shores of Loch Carron similar to many other unassuming towns on the shores of Loch Carron—with one distinction. Plockton, population 378, is considered by many to be the most charming town in the U.K. “You must,” said a Scottish photographer I know, when I told him I was considering stopping. “It really is something.”
Other than the fact that it was seaside, I knew little about the town. I arrived in Plockton after the sun had set, after two hours of driving up and down narrow, single-track roads so characteristic of the northwest Highlands. I dropped my bags off at the Plockton Hotel, one of the few hotels in town, and walked in to one of the only lit spaces I could identify: The Plockton Inn. On a single screen, Scotland’s national soccer team played Lithuania, and much of the town, it seemed, was all there to watch their outfit. I took the only seat available, below the television. The bartender, who delivered my drink, told me everyone in the town had guessed I was Canadian; I informed him I was not. Fifteen minutes later, my meal of Loch Carron-caught langoustines with garlic butter arrived, and 40 minutes after that, a house-made sticky toffee pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Scotland tied Lithuania, 1-1, and the front part of the pub remained upbeat despite the draw. There was a chorused ‘Bye now’ as I left.
The next morning, I woke early to walk the town, which found fame in 1995 as the filming location for Hamish Macbeth, has been designated a National Trust for Scotland conservation village, and whose houses date from the 19th and 20th centuries. One of Plockton’s most notable attractions is the small, white Church of Scotland, which was designed by renowned Scottish architect Thomas Telford. The other? Cordyline australis palm trees along the stretch of Harbour Street, which give the village a vaguely Caribbean vibe, even if the weather is 52 degrees in October. There is also a craft shop, a general store, a library, and a village hall. As I walked, boats bobbed in the harbor, doors remained closed, and cars stayed parked. A stooped man with a stooped English sheepdog walked by on his way to buy a newspaper from the newsagent, and passed by again moments later, with one tucked under his arm. It was easy to see, then, what my friend had meant.
When to go: Late spring, early summer, and early fall. Note: the village gets most crowded during the annual Plockton Regatta, a two-week period of boat races culminating in a concert and dancing. (It usually begins in late July or early August.)
Eat: Go for fresh seafood at Plockton Shores (30 Harbour Street), Plockton Inn (Innes Street), and the seasonal Harbour Fish Bar (1 Innes Street).
Explore: A little more than half a mile east of Plockton is Duncraig Castle, which was built in 1866 and is currently closed for renovation but will reopen in spring 2018.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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