The road south from Caithness (or north from Inverness, depending on your direction of travel) is often summarised by where you can stop off on the way for some much-needed sustenance, as outwith of the numerous towns and villages. One of the newest kids on the block, being just over a year old, is the River Bothy at Berriedale.
The A9 drops from a height of 150m (492ft) to 20m (65ft), which is where you'll find the River Bothy along the base of the valley (look out for the sign, on your left as you drive north).
It's an oasis of a place. Lots of beautiful flowers sitting in mustard tins and syrup pots, with wooden chairs and benches. A woodburner keeps the pace cosy in the winter, whilst there is outdoor seating for when the good weather arrives (or for the hardiest of souls!)
We had stopped in for lunch just before we moved north at the end of last year, just before they closed for winter. I can't believe it took us this long to make a return trip to try the Bothy breakfasts!
There's an assortment of gifts available to buy, many of which are made by local designers, creatives and foodies.
We arrived dead on opening time for breakfast, and it was just as well, because as we left at 11am, the crowds were pouring in.
Mr B went for the traditional breakfast, which came with all the meat! Sausages, black pudding, haggis and bacon - all from the local butcher and all cooked to perfection. Mr B was very happy, his only negative comment being that he would have happily substituted one of the meat items for a portion of beans or grilled tomato.
Meanwhile, I chose pancakes because I can never resist them. These were everything a pancake should be - light as air and accompanied with not only bacon AND blueberries, but a sweet berry compote and delicous creme fraiche that tasted as rich and decadent as double cream.
With eyes bigger than our tummies and knowing that we were off for a walk around the Dunbeath Castle Gardens, we unashamedly ordered traybakes to takeaway.
And with that, it was over. We're already looking forward to a summer lunch soon. My only complaint is that I wish they'd do evening meals in the summer, or open just that little bit later for when we're heading home!
The River Bothy can be found on Facebook and is open 10-4, 7 days a week. Highly, highly recommended.
This is not a review post- I like to share the hidden gems along the East Coast of the NC500 and this is definitely one of them!