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Gluten-Free Surprises In Scotland

We’re not long back from our bi-annual holiday around Scotland. We have family in the Highlands, so it’s a great excuse for a road-trip.

Yes, road-trip, a phrase that often sends coeliacs into cold sweats.

So, as ever it was a mixed bag for gluten-free eating. We self-catered for the for the first week but a special mention must got to the fish-and-chip van that visits the villages near Aviemore during various days of the week. On his Monday stop at Nethy Bridge, he prepared chicken and chips for Mrs E as the fryers were clean and no batter had been near them. Considering our remoteness, he was very knowledgeable (and eager to help).

When it came to travelling southward along the west coast, we played it reasonably safe, staying in Premier Inns (as we’re well experienced in discussing food with them) and always carrying a supply of GF buns for that emergency cheese sandwich. A surprising exception was our one night at The Clansman hotel on the banks of Loch Ness. As a family-run hotel, we were not sure what to expect but my word, the food. A seemingly, shall we say, humble establishment turned out the best meal of the holiday bar none. The staff were extremely helpful with finding my wife something to eat and the whole meal was a revelation from start to finish. I won’t spoilt it with the details, you’ll have to go yourself.

A two-day stop at Fort William brought something unexpected. Stopping at the charming Glenfinnan Railway Station‘s café for a cup of coffee (we’re Harry Potter fans and the Hogwarts platform scenes were filmed there), we asked if by any chance they had anything gluten-free. No problem, she said, and turned up with a beautiful soup and toasted Glutafin GF bread. Jaws dropped all around.

The only day we prepared for, well, fasting, was the long trip from Fort William to Carlisle. We set out early, to enjoy Glencoe as much as possible, but didn’t really have hopes of finding anything to eat bar heading into Glasgow.

How wrong we were.

At the end (or start, I guess) of the Glencoe route is a small town called Tyndrum (where the A85 and A82 meet). We needed a (ahem) comfort break so stopped to stretch our legs. I popped into a small café called, wisely, ‘The Real Food Café‘. It turned out to be a fish and chip shop. A wonderful fish and chip shop. Best of all, it’s proudly displayed  timeline boasted the installation of a dedicated fryer for coeliacs. We grabbed the menu. Yes, there it was, chips safe for coeliacs and wait, battered gluten-free fish! This couldn’t get better could it? Could it? No, really? Onion rings? They have real GF onion rings???

We weren’t hungry, but that wasn’t going to stop us. Not one bit.

The result was delicious, see the photos if you don’t believe me. Flaky fish, crispy batter and fantastic real onion rings; everything cooked to order. Any coeliac is that neck of the wood who doesn’t make a detour to Tyndrum needs their head checking. We live over 500 miles away and I’d consider making it our local chippy. Well done them.

A footnote: After our trip to Scotland we traditionally finish off in Blackpool for a few days of rain, badly-timed tides and tacky shops. After our experiences in some of the least densely populated areas of the British Isles, I was quite optimistic. Wrong. We had to fall back on our safety restaurants, Bella Italia and Nandos, as there is precious little to be found. Major attractions such as Blackpool Tower and the Pleasure Beach really let themselves down in this area. Thankfully, the Big Blue Hotel was great and provided lovely evening meals and breakfasts for us.



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