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Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness – A Complete Guide

Balnakeil Craft Village, close to the village of Durness, is home to a range of local artists producing some beautiful and unique wares. Here is a complete guide.

How To Get To Balnakeil Craft Village

Located about a mile from the actual village of Durness, the craft village address is – Balnakeil, Durness
Sutherland IV27 4PT

By Car:

The A838 takes you to the village of Durness. Once there, follow the minor road west for just under a mile to the hamlet/village of Balnakeil.

You will see the signs for the Craft Village.

Turn right as you enter the village and you will find a free car park by the boat yard.

By Tour:

For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.

Balnakeil Craft Village Entrance Fee

It is free to visit the craft village.

Car Park Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness

Balnakeil Craft Village Opening Times

Easter – October: 10.30am – 17.30pm
October – Christmas 10.30am – 17.00pm (Friday to Monday only)
Other times by appointment.

Car Park Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness

Best Time To Visit Balnakeil Craft Village + Tips

The different businesses are open more often and longer hours during the summer months.

Allow yourself time to have a good look around.

Refreshments are available at the cafe/restaurant.

Don’t forget to enjoy the scenery on the way there!

What To Pack

Photography Camera


Day Bag

Power Bank

Reusable Water Bottle


Lightweight Rain Jacket

Balnakeil Glass Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness

The History Of Balnakeil Craft Village

The array of buildings that make up the craft village, were originally built in the mid 1950’s to house a Ministry Of Defence, Early Warning Station. This was to detect any nuclear attacks on Great Britain.

Initially, during the Cold War, there was a real fear of nuclear attack, however, the station was never actually commissioned.

Subsequently, in the 1960’s, the local council acquired the buildings with the intention of converting them into industrial units.

When not enough interest was shown in the industrial units, with the 1960’s being an era of creativity, a craft village was suggested and thus, in 1964, Balnakeil Craft Village was born.

Wee Gallery Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
Art Gallery Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness

What To Expect At Balnakeil Craft Village

Due to the setting of the Craft Village, you will be surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery the Highlands have to offer before you even visit the galleries and craft shops!

Balnakeil Craft Village is currently home to a diverse range of local businesses, artists and produce including Cocoa Mountain chocolatier (famous for its Cocoa Mountain hot chocolate in Durness), art galleries, paintings and prints, ceramics, woodwork, glass work and more unique crafts.

Also available is a hair and massage therapy salon as well as a boat and auto repair shop and an Airbnb holiday flat.

Moreover, don’t miss the Meet and Greet, Cafe/Restaurant. They offer a tasty range of filled ciabattas, soups, homemade cakes and more. (They open during the evening as well.)

The businesses have varied opening times, so I would recommend checking the website before visiting, especially if there is a specific business you are interested in.

There really are some unique and interesting businesses to visit in this Craft Village and definitely worth dropping in if in this area.

You are sure to find something to take away with you, which might well be memories of a new experience or some newfound skills/ knowledge. Or, you might purchase a unique piece of art work to remember your visit by. 

If the weather’s good make sure you head down to Balnakeil Beach and take a dip too.

Next up on the NC500 itinerary was a stop at Sango Sands In Durness followed by Smoo Cave.

Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness

A Taste Of Balnakeil Craft Village

Balnakeil Glass – Owned by Lesley Smith (Lesley works in Stained glass, fused glass and make glass beads from which she makes unique jewellery.)

Mudness Ceramics – Ceramics – Silk – Wool (This shop includes ceramics, hand painted silk scarves and peg loom woven rugs.)

Ishbel Macdonald Paintings & Prints – Paintings & Prints (After 30 years, Durness and Balnakeil continue to inspire Ishbel in her work.)

Woodwind Workshop & Wood Turning – Wood Turning & Instrument Repairs (Unique pieces in mostly local wood, specialising in large bowls and candlesticks.)

Phil’s Hair Salon & Massage Therapy – (Professionally trained Philipp Tanzer specialises in Swedish deep tissue massage, for muscular pain or relaxation as well as great hair cuts.)

Cocoa Mountain – Chocolatier (Paul and James founded Cocoa Mountain in June 2006 with the simple aim to produce the most delicious, fresh, and innovative chocolates on the planet.) Honestly one of the best things to do on the North Coast 500.

Cast Off Crafts – (Uses found, gifted or re-discovered materials such as driftwood, shells, and sea-glass, and re-works them to create useful and decorative pieces.)

Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness

Where To Stay in Scotland

Luxury – exploreNESS Apartment

Offering free WiFi and free private parking, exploreNESS Apartment is located in Inverness, just 0.8 miles from Inverness Castle. 

The property is less than 0.6 miles from Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and 1.6 miles from Caledonian Thistle.

The apartment features 1 bedroom, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, an equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and 1 bathroom with a shower. Towels and bed linen are provided.

A buffet breakfast is available daily at the apartment.

Mid-Budget – Loch Earn

Located 1.7 miles from Inverness Castle, Loch Earn provides accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking.

There is also a kitchen in some of the units with a dishwasher, a fridge, and an oven.

A continental breakfast is available daily at the bed and breakfast.

Guests can relax in the garden at the property.

Budget – Inverness Youth Hostel

Just 10 minutes’ walk from Inverness Rail Station, Inverness Youth Hostel offers free private parking and bicycle storage.

Eastgate shopping centre is a 10-minute walk from this hostel. Hootananny, a popular music venue, is just 15 minutes’ walk away.

Culloden Battlefield and its visitor centre is just a 10-minute drive away. The banks of Loch Ness and the country village of Dores are both a 20-minute drive away.

All rooms have a shared bathroom. Packed lunch and luggage storage is available on request.

For more places to stay in Scotland, you can check the latest prices on

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Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness