For a Great Day Out From Inverness – Visit Rothiemurchus

rothiemurchus

For a great day out from Inverness here’s an idea – visit Rothiemurchus in the Scottish Highlands.  It’s just south of Aviemore and about 45 minutes drive from Inverness.

For centuries nature and people have lived in harmony in Rothiemurchus.  At its heart lies one of the largest areas of natural forest in Britain with an extraordinary variety of wildlife that depends on it for survival.  Eighteen generations of Grants of Rothiemurchus and other families who have put love and care into maintaining the land for over 450 years, mean we can enjoy this unique environment today.

By enjoying Rothiemurchus you can help:  profits from activities, car parking, shops and other commercial activities are ploughed back into the care of this family  owned estate to enable sustainable stewardship of the forest and for wildlife  to thrive.

You can go there simply to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and countryside, take a picnic and make the most of the great outdoors.  Or you may want to take part in the activities available both on land or on the water – canoeing, rafting, photography, pony trekking or archery are just a few examples.

If that sounds way too energetic you can also take in the farm shop and deli, full of local produce and the gift shop to browse.  Plus there’s also the Druie Restaurant Cafe for when you’re ready to rest and enjoy a delicious meal.

It seems quite possible that you will fall in love with this place when you visit, so you’ll be pleased to know you can also book private events here too.  Weddings can be held in the Victorian shooting lodge, set right in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and featuring it’s own private picturesque loch.

So I hope you’ll be making a plan to see this stunning setting for yourself for yourself.

 

5 Favourite Beaches on the Moray Firth

We are very fortunate to have some beautiful beaches in Scotland and here I’ve picked my 5 favourite beaches on the Moray Firth.  The furthest is about an hour and a quarter’s drive.  Since our weather is frequently described as ‘changeable’ these are not the kind of beaches you’ll find rows of sunloungers for tourists to top up their golden tans even in the height of the summer.  But most of these beaches have fine, golden sand and offer stunning views all around and a great opportunity to stretch your legs and possibly stick a toe in the water if you’re feeling brave.

Nairn Beach

.nairn beachNairn is about half an hour’s drive from here along the Moray coast.  It has been a popular seaside town since Victorian times and recently came 10th in a poll of Britain’s best beaches.  Nairn Beach enjoys one of the sunniest climates in the country and has amazing views across the Moray Firth to the Black Isles and the coastline is home to a resident school of dolphins

 

Lossiemouth – East and West

east beach lossiemouth

East Beach at Lossiemouth

With a choice of two beautiful beaches Lossiemouth is a lovely little town.  Situated on the Moray coast, just over an hour’s drive from here and about 5 miles from Elgin the county town of Moray, Lossiemouth is home to the Royal Air Force and seaside amenities.  The east beach is the first beach you see as you enter the town and is accessed by a wooden pedestrian beach.  The west beach is at the other side of town overlooked by the golf course and caravan park.  If you’re lucky you’ll get a great view of air force jets taking off from the air base.

 

 

 

 

Dornoch

dornoch beach

Dogs love a walk on Dornoch beach

The Royal Burgh of Dornoch is an historic small town on the edge of the Dornoch Firth and just over an hour’s drive from Inverness.  Dornoch beach is an officially designated E.C. Bathing Beach and has been given rural ‘Seaside Award’ Status 2012 as a clean bathing beach. Miles of golden sand stretch from Dornoch Point heading past Embo beach to the mouth of Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve.

 

 Rosemarkie

 

rosemarkie beachRosemarkie fronts on a wide, picturesque bay, with views of Fort George and the Moray coastline across the Moray Firth. Rosemarkie has one of the finest beaches on the Moray Firth Coast Line. At the southern end of the beach is Chanonry Point, reputed to be the best location on the United Kingdom mainland from which to see dolphins.

 

 

 

Loch Ness at Dores Village

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Loch Ness at the Dores Inn

Strictly speak this isn’t a beach but it’s still a favourite shore to walk the dog.  If you park your car at the Dores Inn, you’ll find yourself at the edge of Loch Ness with stunning views in front of you.  The shoreline is stones, rather than sand, but it’s a great place for a walk before or after lunch at the lovely pub, the Dores Inn.  After a bracing walk it’s always nice to warm yourself next to the log burning stove.

Exploring Caithness & Sutherland

If you use Inverness as a base for your holiday, exploring Caithness & Sutherland is one of the things you should do whilst staying here.  The wide expanses of the north Highlands offer a sense of space and tranquility unlike that found anywhere else.  The area includes three National Scenic Areas – Scotland’s finest landscapes.

Three dramatically different coasts await you.  The east cost entices with glittering estuaries, salmon rivers, historical fishing villages and lovely woodlands.  The rugged splendour of north west Sutherland inspires world class geology, breath-taking mountains and a rich natural environment.  As you travel across the top coast, the landscape becomes gentler and gives way to fertile farmlands and the rich archeological hertitage of Caithness, where you will find the most northly point on the British mainland and stunning sea views.

Spring or early summer are the best time for nesting seabirds and abundant wildflowers.  Summer brings a chance to see ospreys fishing and seal pups sunning themselves on sand banks.  Stags in the rut and spectacular colours of woodlands and hillside are a treat for the autumn, while crisp beautiful sunny days and impressive crashing sotrms make a visit in the winter a real pleasure to be savoured roun the fire at nights.

Many visitors have looked at our map of the north of Scotlands whilst staying here and thought they could drive north, across the top, down the west coast and across country back to Inverness in one day.  But unless you want to spend the entire day driving, and through some challenging roads, it’s way too much to do in one day.  There are so many places to visit, here’s just a few:

Dunrobin Castle – on of the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses, Dunrobin Castle dates back to the early 1300s.  Home to the Earls and later the Dukes of Sutherland, the castle is perched on a high terrace with beautiful walled gardens.  Daily falconry displays take place on the lawns. Open April – October.

Dunnet Head – Dunnet Head is the most northerly point on the UK mainland.  The few miles between the village to the lighthouse offer magnificent cliff-top views of Orkney.  In early summer, the cliffs are alive with seabirds such as fulmar and puffins.  Dunnet Head is managed by the RSPB.

Stacks of Duncansby – Duncansby offers a dramatic experience.  These imposing pyramidal stacks have been isolated by the retreat of the cliffs.  Superb views can be had from the coastal path where the best views of huge seabird colonies can be gained.

Scottish Natural Heritage provide a great deal of information on Scotland’s nature and how you can enjoy the great outdoors.

Exploring Caithness and Sutherland

Enjoy the Scottish Landscape

If you’re planning a vacation in the Scottish Highlands, then a great start to planning your holiday would be to base yourself in the Highland capital, Inverness.  From here you can access the beauty of the nearby scenic countryside in every direction and enjoy the culture and history of a vibrant and attractive city.

Travel to the Highlands

There are many ways to travel to the Highlands. If you’re travelling from outside the UK there are a few international flights arriving at Inverness airport, a short 7 mile trip from the city and many domestic flights from other parts of the UK including London, Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham..  You can also fly on from Inverness to a number of Scottish islands like Shetland and Benbecula.  Many people opt to fly to Edinburgh or Glasgow International Airports and either hire a car or take the train enjoying the fantastic scenery on the journey to Inverness.   Of course you can also spend some time in these bustling cities full of life and Scottish heritage and in sharp contrast to the peaceful Highlands.

Inverness Accommodation

Inverness has every option on accommodation whether you’re backpacking on a budget or ready to push the boat out on a 5* hotel.  For a more personal approach there is a great selection of bed and breakfasts and guest houses competitively priced and offering excellent service.   You’ll find exceptional attention to detail and a host glad to offer recommendations for days out.

What to see in the Highlands

There’s so many things to d0 and see in the Scottish Highlands, many guests return again and again.  Whether you’re here to research your ancestry, take in the great outdoors, or visit the many local attractions there’s something for everyone.  A must-see for most guests is of course Loch Ness and it’s famous inhabitant, Nessie.  On the north side you can travel to Drumnadrochit which is 15 miles away and features the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre and the fascinating Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness.  The south side of Loch Ness is a quieter route with some beautiful walks including Foyers falls and who can resist a trip to the Dores Inn, a wonderful country pub on the shores of Loch Ness.  From Inverness you can do day trips to Orkney, the Isle of Skye or Fort William.  You can also travel north to John O’Groats and reach the top of mainland Scotland by car or to Ullapool and the stunning scenery the west coast has to offer.  Nearer to the city there’s Culloden Battlefield, the site of the last battle between England and Scotland, Cawdor Castle and dolphin-spotting on the Black Isle.  For whisky lovers you don’t need to go too far for distilleries or you can make a whole holiday of distillery visiting.  Glenmorangie, Glenmoray and Glangrant are not too far and you can find out more about Scottish produce at Johnstons of Elgin and Baxters of Speyside.

2014 is going to be an exciting year for Scotland with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and the Year of Homecoming so time to start planning your Highland vacation now.

A Highland cow.

A Highland cow.

.Castle at Inverness in Scotland

Great accommodation on the Great Glen Way

Walkers on the Great Glen

 

 

Great accommodation is essential if you’re planning to trek the Great Glen Way.  By boot, by pedal or paddle power – the Great Glen has something for everyone.  Some of the most stunning scenery in Scotlands can be seen on the route and of course you can also go by car or bus.

The Great Glen is a natural feature – a geological fault line between Fort William and Inverness. The area encompasses some of the best known landmarks in Scotland including Ben Nevis, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. The Glen is a significant tourist attraction and major route through the Highlands, between east and west.

The route, which spans 79 miles/127km between Fort William and Inverness, can be walked in 5-6 days, staying overnight in the various communities within the Glen.  The Great Glen Way suits all levels of walker . For the less experienced it is the perfect introduction to long distance walking, being for the most part low-level and following mainly towpaths and woodland tracks. There are some challenging sections though, and the more experienced may wish to tackle a few Munros or Corbetts within reach from the route.  You can also cycle or travel by boat , canoe or kayak along the Great Glen.

The route can be travelled in either direction. However, going from Fort William to Inverness you have the prevailing wind behind you and begin with the easier sections of the Way.  Whether completed from coast to coast, or sampled in bite-sized chunks, the three ways offer an unforgettable experience.  The best website to help you plan your travels is Outdoor Highlands where you’ll find a host of invaluable information on routes, modes of transport and events.  You can even arrange to have your luggage transferred from one overnight spot to another so you can concentrate your efforts walking, cycling or paddling and taking in the stunning scenery.

However you decide to take in the beauty of the Great Glen you’ll need comfortable accommodation at the end of your journey.   A comfortable night’s stay and a hearty breakfast will set you up for a day trekking.

 

great glen1

 

Castle Stuart golf course

All the talking is done now and it’s time to get on with the action as the Scottish Open Golf Championship gets under way at Castle Stuart today.  As the UK and even the Highlands enjoy a heatwave what better time to host the championship and the several thousand spectators expected to visit in the next few days.

Reigning Open champion Ernie Els has said he was surprised not to see more of golf’s top stars taking the  Highland route in pursuit of success at Muirfield next week.  Els, bidding to add a third Claret Jug to his  collection at the venue where he won his first back in 2002, makes his 18th  Scottish Open appearance today.  And he’s baffled by the fact that only two of  the world’s top 24 players have pitched up at Castle Stuart, just outside  Inverness.

Graeme McDowell has apologised to organisers and sponsors of the event after saying the course was too easy but no doubt this will spur on event organisers to ensure the championship runs without a hitch.  And who knows what conditions the players may have to contend with over the next few days in an area known for its ‘changeable’ weather!

Inverness Golf Accommodation at a Premium

Lets hope all the players, caddies, supporters and sponsers have booked their hotel accommodation in Inverness by now since the town is fit to bursting.  Great effort has gone into extending opening times in restaurants, hotels and bars to accommodate golfers and specators needs.  For a traditional Highland welcome visitors will be treated to the Bunkers Festival – an assortment of musicians, performers, mascots, pipers, dancers and mischief! – which will take place in the city centre at 7pm each evening.

So following Andy Murray and the British Lions tremendous success this week lets hope we have a bit more sporting magic from the British players.

Details on tournament information and how to get tickets is available at Castle Stuart

Scottish Open Golf

 

Inverness accommodation

Did you know that Bannerman Bed and Breakfast provides child free accommodation?  It’s not that we don’t like children, it’s just that sometimes it’s nice to stay in child free accommodation that’s exclusively for adults.  We have chosen not to squeeze in extra beds and cots to our lovely bedrooms so we can maximise the comfort for guests.  You can appreciate a comfortable night’s sleep in peace and quiet and enjoy a relaxing breakfast without interruptions from the little ones.

Places of interest

Of course there are lots of activities and places of interest to visit that you can enjoy during your stay in the Highlands whilst getting away from the family.  As well as a vast array of historic venues like Culloden Battlefield, Dunrobin Castle and Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, there’s stunning scenery to visit in very direction.  We have golden sandy beaches all along the east coast and to the north with opportunities for dolphin spotting from land and at sea.  Wildlife fans can see an array of animals in their natural habitat at Loch Garten including the magnificent ospreys and there are glorious walks for all abilities not far from here.  For a bit of exercise you can hire bikes from Ticket to Ride which is a short walk away.  As well as providing the kit they will also advise you on the best routes and provide maps.

Distilleries and shopping

And when the weather’s a wee bit dreich there’s always a distillery or 2 to visit, the Black Isle Brewery and a bit of retail therapy in the Highland capital, Inverness.  Failing that you can always relax in your bedroom at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast, take advantage of the DVD library and book exchange knowing your time is entirely your own.

So go on … treat yourselves to a break in the Highland capital, Inverness and make the most of time away from the kids.

 

Bannerman BNB