Sutherland, in the Highlands of Scotland, is one of the last great European wildernesses. Only 13,000 people live in the largest county in Britain! Highland Glen Lodges are centrally situated in the heart of all this beauty.
Things to do locally
An excellent day out without spending too much time in the car starts by driving inland to Lairg and then down the A836 to Bonar Bridge where there is an excellent stone exhibit of the rocks that formed Scotland. From there you follow Strath Carron to Croik and then on via Strath Oykel to Rosehall and Ravens Rock Gorge walk for a leg stretch before returning via the Falls of shin and a delicious cream tea before watching the salmon leaping at the nearby waterfalls.
Within a short drive of the lodges are miles of sandy beaches and interesting lochs and nature reserves. The Moundbuilt by the famous Scottish Engineer Thomas Telford and nature reserve at Loch Fleet are just a few minutes from the lodges where you can watch Ospreys soaring overhead as well as see the seals basking on the sands of the sea loch. The fascinating city of Dornoch not only has fine beautiful Sandy Beach but it also has a grizzly side with a stone to commemorate Janet Horne the last witch to be burnt alive in Scotland. In fact, many of our guests make Dornoch their first attraction to visit as the Dornoch Pipe Band are often performing in the Market Square on Summer Saturday evenings. The town of Golspie is only a few miles north and the starting point for the Big Burn walk and for the more energetic a chance to take an eagle’s eye view of the Moray Firth by climbing Ben Bhraggie to see the “Wee Mannie” monument of the Duke of Sutherland.
The Moray Firth is a tremendous stretch of water that includes the Cromarty, Inverness and Dornoch Firths and stretches as far north as Helmsdale. Probably the most famous and interesting residents of the Firth are the Pods of Bottlenose Dolphins and the dedicated study centre just north of Inverness. Chanonry Point on the Black Isle is a famous spot to catch a glimpse of these magnificent mammals as they put on a free display for all to see. The Black Isle Brewery is another favourite tourist attraction offering free tours of this organic brewery. On the way back to the lodges and just over the Cromarty Bridge is an ideal spot to view basking seals and the Storehouse of Foulis has a fascinating Clan Museum as well as a delightful restaurant right on the shore of the Firth as well as an Delicatessens selling local produce.
One of Scotland’s most famous exports is Whisky and there are no better examples of this famous drink than the Single Malt Whiskies that are produced throughout the Highlands. Within a short drive to Tain we have one of the most famous distilleries, Glenmorangie which lies on the south side of the Dornoch Firth. Just a few miles along the coast towards the Kyle of Sutherland we have Balblair and although the distillery does not offer tours, it does produce a fine Scotch. Head north along the coast past Golspie to Brora and we have Clynelish a distillery producing a distinctive Malt and with a splendid visitor centre.
The north coast is sanctuary to millions of sea birds and has the highest sea cliffs in Britain. Take a boat trip from Kylesku to the highest waterfall in Britain – Eas Cullin and see seal pups on the islands in June.
Visit John O’Groats and maybe pop over to the Orkney Islands for a day’s sightseeing. You can book a day trip which includes the boat fare and bus ticket.
On the east coast lie the cheery towns and villages where you will be assured of a warm Highland welcome in the craft and tea shops.
Come south towards Inverness where you can do some great shopping. On your way visit “Storehouse of Foulis” where you can have lunch, buy souvenirs and maybe see seals basking in the Cromarty Firth. You won’t be far from Loch Ness with its elusive monster and Urquhart Castle – one of Scotland’s fine ruins.
For our guests who wish to travel further afield we are very fortunate to be situated in a part of the Highland of Scotland that has easy access to both the West and North coast as well as many interesting places to visit and explore in and around the Highland’s Capital of Inverness. We would be delighted to help you plan your own routes but the following are suggestions for day trips without too much time behind the wheel.
The West and North Coast
Drive through Lairg and take the A839 & A837 in toward Ullapool to the Geopark at Assynt-Coigach. Head north towards Kylesku and Scourie and the North coast at Durness where you can visit the John Lennon Memorial. Following the coast road you pass Smoo Cave as well as some beautiful beaches at Ceannabeinne & Sango until you arrive at Tongue Tongue and then follow the A836 back to Lairg.
Highland Clearances and the North Coast
From Lairg this circular trips head north towards Tongue and turn off onto the B873 after Altnaharra towards Bettyhill. The Highland Clearances Trail starts by the shores of Loch Naver and continues along Strathnaver to the sea at Bettyhill. Follow the coast eastwards towards Thurso and a short diversion can take you to Dunnet Head , the most northerly point on the UK mainland. The late Queen Mother’s favourite Castle of Mey stands overlooking the Pentland Firth and is a lovely place to visit or just stop for a Cream Tea. For many John O’Groats is a little disappointing but Duncansby Head is well worth a visit. A short walk from the car park takes you to the top of the cliffs where literally thousands of sea birds nest with a chance to see their chicks during the breeding season, follow the path and you will see the magnificent Stacks of Duncansby rising out of the sea. Continue home along the A9 towards Wick with a 24 hour Tesco store to the Mound passing lovely villages such as Dunbeath and Helmsdale.
Loch Ness and Nessie!
As the name indicates the City of Inverness is at the mouth of the River Ness and the start of the Great Glen and a short drive inland on the A82 brings you to Loch Ness the largest body of freshwater in the UK. As well as providing a chance to catch a glimpse Nessie the monster, the road follows the shores of the loch to Drumnadrochit and then on to the magnificent location of Castle Urquhurt and its superb views of the loch. Continuing along the road to Fort Augustus. Return to Inverness by the B852 which after Foyers hugs the shore of the loch and gives some magnificent photo opportunities of Castle Urquhurt and from Inverness return via Beauly and Dingwall.
A popular excursion for guests is a day trip to Orkney. It is possible to drive up to the north coast and arrange your own visit bur we recommend an organised bus trip with The John O’Groats to Orkney ferry. You can pre book your trip to be picked up in Golspie and the bus takes you to the ferry and then offers a variety of tours of the islands. The history of Orkney dates back thousands of years and amongst the sites not to be missed are the Ring of Brodgar stone circle and henge as well as the prehistoric village of Skara Brae. During the 2nd World War prisoners of war were held on the island and The Italian Chapel is a reminder of more recent times. The tour concludes at the ferry terminal for the short trip across the Pentalnd Firth and the return trip to Golspie.
Why not allow the driver a day off?
We have regular bus and train services running nearby so it is possible to explore the area without having to drive. D&E Coaches operate a service stopping in the village between Lairg and Helmsdale and Stagecoach run services between Lairg and Tain as well as offering a route to allow you to go north to Thurso and Scabster and south to Inverness. Regular rail services also stop in Rogart on the North Highland Line. More details are available in your lodge to help you plan your excursions.
The quiet by-roads in the area are perfect for cyclists so either bring your own or book bicycles in advance to have them delivered to your lodge ready and waiting for your arrival.