We have spent a wonderful few days staying at The Highland Club in Fort Augustus. The Highland Club is a complex of holiday apartments in what was once a Benedictine monastery on the shores of Loch Ness. It was constructed in 1880 and home to monks and a private school for boys right up until 1998.
The monks were not as holy as they should have been with allegations of child sexual abuse reported in a BBC documentary, Sins of our Fathers. One of the alleged abusers is an Australian who the Scots are still trying to extradite to Scotland to face charges.
The boarding school closed in 1993 causing the monks’ income to plummet and they were unable to maintain the huge rambling Victorian abbey which was eventually sold to the Santon Group who converted it into holiday apartments. Each apartment is unique and indeed there are some more modern extensions so if you want to be in the old part of the abbey then you’ll need to do some research first. Apartments can booked from The Highland Club website, AirBnb, and also through the Aonach Mor site. It’s best to shop around to find the best deal.
Our apartment is in what was originally St Andrew’s Chapel and it still has all the stained glass windows and columns. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever stayed in before and quite an experience. The apartment is for sale, if you have a spare £350k. Here’s the kitchen.
Eating breakfast under the gaze of Oswald and Robert and various others whose names I can’t make out on the stained glass is definitely a novelty but the downside is that we couldn’t see outside. There’s only one clear glass window in the apartment with all the rest being stained glass. The plus side to this is there’s no need for curtains and the colours of the stained glass are very pretty, especially when the sun is shining on them.
It’s so clever how much detail they can get with glass, especially in their faces.
There’s a swimming pool in the complex which post-dates the monks. The kids have loved it and a couple of times we’ve had it all to ourselves. I’m told this is rare and that during the summer months it gets quite busy. May is obviously a good time to come and visit.
There’s a games room with billiard table. This used to be the monks’ dining room.
There’s also a gym and an outdoor chess set.
The hallways are all very Harry Potter-esque.
The outside is very grand and gothic-looking.
There’s a playground on the estate.
And tennis courts.
We have been cooking meals in the apartment, which has absolutely everything we need, but Fort Augustus has several places to eat. We ate lunch out once at the Lock Inn which is right beside the canal.
I had a lovely vegan bean stew.
The view from the inn.
They even had a vegan chocolate brownie with vegan ice-cream!
There are lots of walks around Fort Augustus and we went for a walk in the hills just behind the village.
We came across this cute stone bridge. I felt there should be a troll hiding underneath.
It’s funny how when walking around Scotland, at one moment it can be freezing cold and coats, hats, and scarves are needed; then the next moment you strip off to a t-shirt, only for sleet to start 5 minutes later – which is basically what happened on our walk.
You can just make out Fort Augustus in the distance in the valley below in this next photo.
My cardigan in the next photo is a charity shop purchase. The brand is Almgwand which I’d not heard of before but it’s wool and made in Austria and has really nice green and pink detailing as well as a green and white checkered lining in the hood. It’s in such good condition. It amazes me what some people discard. My skirt is from the charity shop too.