Travelling to a place that styles itself "the remotest guesthouse on the British mainland", it's no surprise to find the roads leading to it going from major to minor to positively insignificant. What one doesn't expect is for them to give up altogether – even somewhere as notoriously far-flung as north-west Scotland's Knoydart peninsula.
"Just get to the farm at Kinloch Hourn and walk down to the jetty," Claire had instructed me on the phone. "Tom will pick you up in the boat and bring you in."
So it was that I found myself on a 22-mile single-track road that picked its way ever more tentatively between mountains garlanded with deliciously obscure names. Leac nan Gaidhseich and Sròn Lice na Fearna had given way to Sgurr a Chlaidheimh and Buidhe Bheinn before I found the jetty where Tom was waiting patiently in his little white motorboat reading a book on sea kayaks. "I've just made one out of plywood," he explained casually as we set off on the mile-long voyage up the sea loch.
There used to be a hamlet at Skiary. A tiny community lived here in half a dozen houses, eking out a lochside living from catching and smoking herring. The last family left in the 1950s and today just one lonely 200-year-old stone dwelling stands on the shore, its small glass eyes gazing out on a scene unchanged for eons. Mustard yellow mountains prowl around the loch, their lower slopes speckled with lime-green birch trees. An imposing range of peaks seven miles away to the west completes the circle to form a tiny tranquil empire where nothing ugly or in a hurry is permitted to exist.
Restored in the 1980s by Tom's grandparents, the wood-lined cottage sports three small bedrooms, a bathroom and a lounge. It's been furnished and decorated in a fittingly old-fashioned style by Claire and Tom, a couple not yet troubling their mid-twenties yet infinitely resourceful (Claire ran up the curtains, Tom does the plumbing, they both turn their hand to everything else) and two of the friendliest and most welcoming hosts you could wish for. Meals are taken in a large heated greenhouse which, aside from affording mesmerising views down the loch, also means I got to eat beneath an arch of jasmine.
You should try it sometime, you'll like it. For the full effect you'll want Claire and Tom cooking for you though. The fennel-stuffed red peppers and the spiced parsnip and apple soup went down particularly well. There was homemade "rhuberry" (rhubarb and strawberry) jam at breakfast. "And we only ever serve fish we've caught ourselves," added Tom.
However, this is definitely not a boutique experience. For one, there's no electricity here. Cue cosy evenings lit by paraffin lamps, tea-lights and a driftwood fire in the hearth. With no television or other modern distractions, my fellow guests and I fell back on some old school methods of evening entertainment: lively conversation, the odd fiercely contested board game, and a dram or two of whisky. A rather more novel amusement was provided at dusk by a sociable red deer who poked her head through the kitchen window to be fed vegetable peelings by hand. During the day, grey seals swam past the house at frequent intervals apparently unperturbed by our presence (or, for that matter, our excited shouts of "Ooh look! It's another seal! Just there!").
But the centrepiece of the weekend was an expedition: a full day's walk to conquer one of the mainland's least accessible Munros. Tom gave three of us (four if you count Gwen, Skiary's motherly Welsh border collie) a lift in his boat to a sandy strand further down the loch. Four hours later we had reached the summit of Ladhar Bheinn, more than a thousand metres in the air. The Isle of Skye's Cuillin range emerged from the haze ahead of us, Ben Nevis puffed out his chest in the distance to our left, while down below, just visible towards the head of the loch, lay Skiary, so laughably small in comparison with the mountains that it looked as though someone had made some terrible mistake with the scale. We ate a picnic Claire had prepared (her multi-fruit flapjacks an amazing fusion of instant energy and tongue-pleasing textures) and drank in the sheer astonishing vastness of the scene.
One heart-stoppingly beautiful walk along a horseshoe ridge and one heart-stoppingly scary descent down a seemingly vertical cliff later we made our way home around the loch on a footpath trodden by generations of Knoydart folk before us. A hot sun that had brought a taste of August to late April set slowly on our backs, a cuckoo sang out from somewhere in the trees, and a feeling of utter contentment settled over us. And not just because awaiting us at Skiary was good wine, a slap-up meal, and a friendly red deer with a penchant for spring onion scraps.
• Staying at Skiary (01809 511214, skiary.com, open until end of August) costs £89 per person per night, including boat transfers, breakfast, packed lunch, afternoon tea and a three-course evening meal. East Coast train services (08457 225225, eastcoast.co.uk) from London to Glasgow cost from £16.50 one-way if booked in advance. Scottish Citylink coach (0871 266 33 33, citylink.co.uk) from Glasgow to Invergarry are from £29.54 return. Taxi from Invergarry to Kinloch Hourn costs from £35 each way for up to seven people with Great Glen Travel (01809 501222, greatglentravel.com)
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