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Transvaal House

Durness, Northern Highlands & Cairngorms National Park (Ref. 2310)

  • Rating 

  • Sleeps 9

  • Bedrooms 4

  • Bathrooms 2

  • Pets Yes

  • View on map

  • Rating 

  • Sleeps 9

  • Bedrooms 4

  • Bathrooms 2

  • Pets Yes

  • View on map


  • Icon/Feature/Off-road parking Off road parking
  • Icon/Feature/Ground floor bedroom Ground floor bedroom
  • Icon/Feature/Open fire Open fire
  • Icon/Feature/Smoke-free Smoke-free
  • Icon/Feature/Baby-friendly Cot available
  • Icon/Feature/Baby-friendly Highchair available
  • Icon/Feature/Shop Pub/shop < 1 mile
  • Icon/Feature/Washing machine Washing machine
  • Icon/Feature/Dishwasher Dishwasher
  • Icon/Feature/By the sea Seaside
  • Icon/Feature/Sky TV Sky TV
  • Mr Bowden

    “I have stayed at Transvaal several times in the past.”

    The location is right, the price is right and if your expectations are not permanently set at 5* this is absolutely ideal. ...

    The location is right, the price is right and if your expectations are not permanently set at 5* this is absolutely ideal. I am a photographer and mostly travel to Durness to capture the aurora. This past week, the aurora was visible 5 out of 7 days and ALL from the back garden about 10 strides to the kitchen. Perfect. I don't like posting negative comments so I will refer to the next couple of points as "suggestions". Kitchen could do with a microwave. There used to be one but had to boil water in a pan to heat up milk for the young one. Could do with replacing tap washers in both upstairs and downstairs to cure the constant leak. Kitchen door lock needs a squirt of WD40 as the key was extremely difficult to use and the two lounge chairs have passed their sell by date. If that is the only downside I can type then it shows it must be good and it is. On the positive side which I do like to write about, the location is spot on, ample parking for even 5 cars if needed. Electricity costs are now included (they used to be separate), rooms are comfy and lots of bedding/towels included. Kitchen has enough cutlery to cater for at least 3 full coaches, ample storage for cold/frozen items (so stock your car prior to arriving). I have already mentioned the garden but you can walk through the gate (closing behind due to the sheep) and then walk for a good mile and a bit towards the coast across the field. We did this to capture aurora photographs and there was zero light pollution from behind. There is also storage heating which takes the edge off the bitter winds that they get in Durness, I would suggest closing all doors to retain the heat. There are a few radiators provided if it gets really cold - but with doors closed, we found the storage heaters alone were sufficient. No, Transvaal does not have WiFi but sometimes you need to step away from technology and actually enjoy a holiday. Cocoa Mountain opens at 11am and has free WiFi and is literally a 5 minute walk away. That said, I did find very good coverage on O2 including intermittent 4G. Durness itself is a small but wonderful community. Everyone knows each other and we found (as outsiders) the whole village to be very friendly. The local Spar is well stocked and "John" is a font of all knowledge for the area and a super chap. Going outside of season (as we did) most of the cafe's are still shut (early March). Cocoa Mountain while good for coffee/chocolate/sweet stuff, has nothing savoury and if you fancy a soup and a sandwich you are really stuck for choice. Two places immediately come to mind. Smoo Caves hotel (Durness) and The Old School House in Kinlochbervie. The latter you have to drive about 10 miles to but it is worth it. The Smoo Caves hotel is in a single word .... exceptional. I wrote a review on Trip Advisor and it is not just a locals pub, you are made to feel very welcome and definitely included in conversation. The food here is mostly (if not all) home cooked and the staff are brilliant. Worth also taking the walk down to Smoo Caves, it is a large and perfectly safe cave with a waterfall inside which make for some stunning photos (take a tripod if you have one). If you are lucky, you will meet "Caveman Colin" who is an exceptional guide and can take you "safely" to further parts of the cave complex. In the opposite direction, you have Balnakiel village which is the home of Cocoa Mountain. The factory is in the process of moving (but still open). I was very pleased to see more craft shops preparing to open in this little complex and I would suspect by the end of May this little complex will be thriving. Well worth a visit. Finally, moving on past this little area will take you onwards to Balnakiel beach. To be perfectly honest, this is one of my favourite beaches ever. To find a beach with no litter that by night has stunning aurora's reflection off the wet sands, it is definitely a beach (under the right conditions) to take your breath away. Only downside for us is that this whole experience is a 530 mile each way trip that takes about 11 hours. Was it worth it .... you bet it was. Perhaps next time we will stay for a couple of weeks. Steve B

The property

Durness 0.5 miles.

A large, detached, stone-built house situated on the outskirts of the ancient crofting village of Durness, which is scattered along a rugged coastline with rocky inlets, coves and beaches.

The property is well maintained and offers simple, yet comfortable accommodation, with wonderful sea views, a cosy sitting room with open fire and four bedrooms.

Transvaal House was built in approximately 1890, in a South African style, by a notable architect who designed various structures in South Africa.

Upon his retirement he returned to his home town of Durness and built this property.

The village of Durness offers a grocer's shop and a small shop with Post Office, while the area is perfect for walking, cycling, wildlife spotting and trout and salmon fishing, as well as golf at the local course.

Ideal for exploring the solitude of the Highlands, Transvaal House makes a good base for a relaxing holiday.


  • Four bedrooms: 1 x ground floor double, 1 x double, 1 x family room with 3 single beds, 1 x adult bunks
  • Ground floor bathroom with bath, shower over, basin and WC
  • First floor shower room with shower, basin and WC
  • Large fitted kitchen with dining area and multi-fuel stove
  • Sitting room with open fire
  • Additional sitting area in extended entrance porch.
  • Electric storage heaters with multi-fuel stove in kitchen/dining area and open fire in sitting room
  • Electric oven and hob, microwave, fridge/freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, satellite TV with basic package, radio, small selection of books/games
  • Electricity inc. in rent
  • Bed linen inc. in rent
  • Cot and highchair available
  • Off road parking for 4 cars
  • Lawned area
  • One well-behaved dog welcome
  • Sorry, no smoking
  • Shop and pub 10 mins walk
  • Note: Fuel is not provided for stove and open fire but is available to purchase locally, or can be pre-ordered from the shop before arrival.

Calculate your drive time

About the location


Lairg 56 miles; Thurso 75 miles.

The most North Westerly village in mainland Scotland, the ancient village of Durness, unspoilt by modern convention, offers a truly peaceful location amidst awe inspiring landscape. The village is steeped in history and boasts evidence of an 8th Century Christian settlement, cave dwellings and Viking invasions. The surrounding coastline is fringed with spectacular beaches of silver sand, soaring cliffs and deep caves. It is a splendid location from which to explore the solitude of the Highlands whilst watching the varied wildlife, or enjoying a spot of golf on Britain's most northerly golf course. Vist Smoo Cave, a large sea cave with a tiny river running through, and the large colony of puffins at nearby Faraid Head, offering a superb opportunity for wildlife photography. The local Craft Village, situated on a rather picturesque old RAF radar base, affords visitors the opportunity to purchase local giftware and art, produced by this sustainable, hospitable community. A vast area of outstanding natural beauty, Durness makes an ideal base for touring the rest of the Highlands.

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