Today I wanted to share our Airbnb break in Glenfinnan. We stayed in for October at Tana Camus, a cabin on the shores of beautiful Loch Shiel.
If you haven’t ever visited the Scottish Highlands in October, you might think it would be gloomy and cold.
I can’t tell a lie – it does rain a lot in Scotland at this time of year. But it also has the most glorious autumnal colours, amazing scenery and when the sun breaks through, it’s spectacular.
Where is Glenfinnan?
If you’re travelling from England, then getting to Glenfinnan could take a while, but it’s a relatively simple drive and one with amazing views.
Glenfinnan is on the West coast of Scotland, around 3 hours north of Glasgow. It’s a 30-minute drive from the nearest major town (Fort William) and a 20-minute drive from the beach towns of Mallaig and Arisaig, and ferries to the Isles.
We stayed at the Tana Camus, a tiny cabin just off the main road through Glenfinnan, and right on the water’s edge on the very Northern tip of Loch Shiel.
I do often get people asking about the Airbnb properties where I stay, so here’s the need to know on this one:
If you look in the photo above, Tana Camus is the red/brown cabin right on the waterside. Behind is an ancient church, further up the hill.
Tana Camus is a 3 bedroom cabin with one bathroom, 2 double bedrooms and one single bedroom.
There’s an open plan lounge/kitchen with electric heaters and a wood-burning stove. Before you book that this cabin does not have a television and it does not have Internet access. If you do need to get online, then it does have a decent 3G/4G signal. I was able to email and download TV shows by using my phone as a hotspot.
We found the bedrooms comfortable and warm, and the kitchen table made for a perfect spot for jigsaws and card games. The kitchen itself is well kitted out with a really decent oven, microwave and fridge freezer.
The cabin sits between the local road and the loch. We found it very quiet but in the morning you will probably see local dog walkers on the road, close enough to wave to. Another thing to note is that the land here is not enclosed so we took along a portable fence to keep Teddy from doing a runner – just as well because we saw quite a few deer around the cabin during our stay.
For me, this property is a winner because of the location. It’s just a few steps down from the verandah to the loch side and there’s an area for a fire pit, which would be lovely in drier weather.
I was able to keep my kayak on the loch side next to the cabin and enjoyed a couple of morning paddles, which were spectacular. From the water, you get amazing views of the Glenfinnan Monument. This is a fab thing to see if you’re interested in Scottish History. The monument commemorates the highlanders who were lost in the Jacobite uprising.
Just behind the moment you’ll also see the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is more famous in recent times as being the bridge featured in the Harry Potter movies. The Harry Potter train crosses the bridge several times a day and you’ll find the visitor centre car park suddenly fills up with Potter fans wanting a photo!
We had some lovely walks around the cabin and up above Glenfinnan, so I’d definitely recommend bringing your walking boots!
Glenfinnan is also a short drive from the highland villages of Mallaig and Arisaig and the fabulous beaches at Morar and Camusdarach. These are some of my favourite places in the world to kayak and paddleboard, but they also make an amazing spot for a walk and a day on the beach, with clear (cold) waters and white sands that could easily be in the Caribbean in the right light.
What to do in Glenfinnan
Within Glenfinnan itself the obvious attractions are the monument (which also has a wildlife walk next to it) and the viaduct. If your kids are real Harry Potter fans, you can take a “Hogwarts” train from Glenfinnan up to Arisaig, and travel over the famous bridge. Alternatively if you start at the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre, there is a path that takes you under the viaduct or above it, and at certain times of day you can catch the train going over the bridge.
From Glenfinnan, if you head North to Arisaig you can visit local beaches, take ferries across to the islands and book activities like a whale watching trip or fishing trip.
Heading back towards Fort William, you’ll find the Glencoe visitor centre which is open year round and has a fabulous view at the top over the mountains. At the right time of year there’s skiing, and chair lifts to ride.
If you’re in Glenfinnan you’re also only 30 minutes from Ben Nevis, which is reasonably easy for beginners to walk up (make sure to take the right path for beginners, though!) If mountain climbing isn’t for you, there’s a fabulous walk through Steall Gorge to the Steall Ban waterfall, which is definitely doable with older kids. In some circles this is known as the “Harry Potter waterfall” because it features in 5 of the movies, including the scene where Harry is chased by a dragon in the Tri-Wizard cup.
There’s also a visitor centre and various trails for families.
How to Book
You can book Tana Camus for around £120 per night via Airbnb or through the owner’s Facebook page. We booked directly and found the owners incredibly friendly and helpful. We had a wonderful stay at the cabin, and I’d love to go back again. If you’re interested in staying in Arisaig, check out our review of our glamping trip in 2021.