The Union Canal is a great place to go for a bike ride. The path alongside the canal is traffic-free, starts in the city centre and takes you into the countryside. When its time for coffee why not stop at The Counter where your cappuccino is steamed and foamed onboard a canal boat?
The Counter is located near the start of the canal at Fountainbridge in Edinburgh city centre. The converted pale blue canal boat really stands out and is a welcome addition to an area of the city that is looking more and more exciting and attractive.
The windows of the canal boat have been converted into serving hatches. I like how the drinks menu is printed onto the hatch so that it is right in front of you when you make your order. The coffee is high quality, sourced from local roasters, Mr Eion of Stockbridge. There is also hot chocolate, tea and some bottled juices. Drinks are served in biodegradable cups. Homemade cookies and brownies keep the sweet toothed happy.
There are no seats inside the boat, but tables outside provide a nice spot when the weather is good. In fact, it is delightful to sit here in the sun for a while. You are right next to the historic Leamington Lift Bridge. This is an impressive piece of engineering that can be raised up to allow boats to pass beneath. You might just be lucky enough to see it in action during your coffee break.
What could be more delightful than watching canal boats glide by as you drink great coffee in the sunshine?
Entering this shop and café is a wonderful sensory experience that is quite simply the fulfillment of every chocolate lover's dreams. Grab a window seat, order Belgium waffles and enjoy views of Oban Bay.
Oban Chocolate Company is located on Corran Esplanade, about 15 minutes walk from the Ferry Terminal. Inside there is a combined café and chocolate shop. It is impossible not to get excited by the enormous choice of chocolate treats on display. There is a counter where you can select individual chocolates with flavours that include whisky truffle, toffee and orange truffle and lemon meringue truffle.
There are shelves packed full of different chocolate concoctions, such as the chocolate fish n' chips.
I took one of these home and it was delicious. The chips were made of white chocolate and they look very realistic. There was even some newspaper in the bottom of the box!
The café is equally magnificent. The menu states that the management accepts no responsibility for over indulgence and that is certainly a risk here.
The counter has a display case crammed full of cakes and treats. On one visit I tried the salted caramel peanut butter slab. The chocolate topping was unbelievably thick. Whoever made this understands the needs of serious chocolate lovers. It was one of the top chocolate experiences of my life.
Coffee is roasted fresh every week and during my visit it was served with a little chocolate fish resting on the spoon. You can order a tasting plate of truffles to go along with your drink.
Belgian waffles are a star feature in the cafe and you can have them smothered in a variety of toppings. If hot chocolate is more your thing you will be spoiled for choice, including single origin chocolate.
I love that the menu is full of lots of interesting facts about chocolate, including persuasive arguments about the health benefits of chocolate. It states that 2 squares of chocolate have less calories than an apple, but it is doubtful you will be able to/want to stick to just 2 squares during your visit.
Try to get one of the sofas by the window so that you can enjoy the views over Oban Bay or you might prefer to be closer to the viewing window of the factory where you can watch the chocolatiers at work. You can even book your child into one of the chocolate making workshops.
Oban Chocolate Company is a shrine to chocolate. It is one of the best chocolate shops I have come across, not just in Scotland, but in the world.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle. Follow my blog on Facebook: