Local Area – things to do
1 ) Cawdor Castle is a great castle just 10 mins drive away. There’s the Castle, tea rooms and the historic Cawdor Tavern. Next to the castle is also a relatively laid back 9-hole pitch and putt, suitable for beginners (club hire available) if you want to do a little golfing without visiting one of the more high-end Championship golf courses. One of our favourite things to do for a satisfying day trip is to follow the river path all the way from Sutors Hauf up to Cawdor for lunch in the Tavern. Walking map and info available here.
2 & 3) Nairn Dunbar and Nairn golf courses. A very popular reason to visit Nairn is that we are blessed with two popular, Championship golf courses. There are many other popular golf courses in the area including Castle Stuart and Royal Dornoch.
4) Brodie Castle is a National Trust for Scotland property and well worth a visit, especially suitable for a wetter day. It has a great history and the castle has a large number of rooms including artefacts and original furniture. Nearby, Brodie Countryfair is a popular destination for shopping, lunch or coffees. They sell a broad range of gifts, clothing and deli-fare
5) Connage Highland Dairy have the most amazing cheese pantry. They also have a cute little coffee shop and produce their own tasty cheeses including “Crowdie”, a highland speciality soft cheese. However, we most recommend visiting the cheese pantry and choosing something from their vast selection of international cheeses. Bring it home and eat by the fire with a glass of Port. The staff are very helpful and will assist with selection by offering little tasters. Yummy!
6) Fort George “Following the 1746 defeat at Culloden of Bonnie Prince Charlie, George II created the ultimate defence against further Jacobite unrest. The result, Fort George, is the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, if not Europe. ”
7) Culloden Take a visit here and learn all about the importance of the Battle of Culloden, the downfall of the Jacobites and it’s historical impact on the Highlanders
8) If you’re missing the city already, Inverness has plenty to offer. Including Inverness Castle, Eastgate Shopping Centre, Swimming Pool (with excellent slides, wave machine and lazy river), Ice Rink and Eden Court for shows, cinema etc. If you’re going for a trip we would particularly recommend The Mustard Seed or The Kitchen for their excellent value, mid-week lunch deals
9) Findhorn is a beautiful place to visit. Firstly, have a wander through the village toward the beach. Findhorn bay and the channel to the sea there is one of the best places to watch seals. The beach is quite different from Nairn – it often feels more exposed and has a stony shoreline. The Bakehouse is our favourite place for brunch in the area, highly recommended! It’s also worth a wander through the Findhorn Foundation and Eco-Village , it has a very interesting story to tell, a great little shop and cafe and some delightful architecture
10) Coast Road to Cullen It’s a bit out of the way, but this is a beautiful drive along the coast, there are numerous little seaside villages to stop in on the way and explore old harbours and wander along the seafronts. Burghead, Hopeman, Lossiemouth, Spey Bay, Fochabers (stop for pancakes at Baxters), Spey Bay, Portgorden, Buckie, Findochty and Portknockie. There won’t be time to visit them all but the final destination is Cullen, for the best ice-cream on the planet (vanilla only, don’t buy anything else!). This is also, of course, the best place to try the traditional Scottish fish stew, Cullen Skink.
11) Cairngorm This is a great place to go walking or if you’re not so energetic (or skilled) take the railway to the top for amazing views. There’s even a cafe and a shop. If you’d like a walk but don’t fancy the extremes of the mountain, the walk around Loch Morlich might be perfect, it’s hard to get lost on, flat but long enough to feel like lunch is deserved after. Visit RSPB in Boat of Garten where you might see Ospreys and if not Ospreys certainly lots of other birds, we saw Capercaillie when we went!
12) Cromarty is a lovely, historic town North of Nairn on the Black Isle. It’s a nice drive over and a great little place for a wander. I couldn’t recommend this Dolphin Watching trip more highly, it is a fantastic way to see wildlife and the boat is lots of fun too. You’ll also pass through the Sutors where our “Sutors” was picked out of the water all those years ago
13) Chanonry Point Dolphins can be seen from the shore. It’s a matter of luck, but when you do catch them it’s worth the wait as they’re just meters from the shoreline. There’s more info here. Our experience is that we see dolphins on around 50% of our trips. Nearby is Fairy Glen which is a lovely walk (well marked), up through beautiful woodland to a small waterfall. Particular lovely in springtime when the bluebells are out.
14) Loch Ness I think it might feel wrong to visit the area with going to check up on Nessie. There are several boat trips available and the area is outstandingly beautiful even if Nessie is hiding. Urquhart Castle is on the shores of Loch Ness and is both interesting and pretty. Further South is the small town of Fort Augustus which is a good place for a spot of lunch, a bit more Nessie spotting and a walk along the Caledonian canal.
Private Tours Interested in treating yourselves to a private chauffeur guided tour? We’d recommend David at Scenic Routes, particularly if you fancy some whisky tasting, Scotland drink-drive laws are very strict so if you’d like to visit some of the dozens of local distilleries, let David take you in a bit of luxury. No doubt he’ll point out plenty interesting places along the way