Holidays, Nature, Photography

Things to do – a little FAQ

We recently collaborated on a blog with Holidays Scottish Highlands & Islands where we recommend some places to go – check them out for more ideas.

One of our ways of deciding where to go when we have a free day is to look at the weather forecasts and wherever it is best – north, east, south or west – that is where we will go. There’s so many things to do and see that choices are endless wherever you go.

Favourite Beach

We are often asked what is our favourite beach. It’s a tough one, it really is. Is it small and pretty, easy to get to, with some facilities, with potential wildlife, with amazing extra scenery, remote and isolated, or what? My (it’s Alan, by the way) favourite is Sandwood Bay. It’s a decent walk to get to it – just shy of 5 miles from the carpark to surf. But, it is a beauty. There is a huge expanse of sand that you can see from a little way off with fantastic dunes and a freshwater loch as well as a sea stack at one end. There’s a good chance that you’ll get it to yourself.

Ceol Mor Highland Lodges
Best Hike

Well, what defines a ‘good’ hike? One of our guests had some input to this question – is it a hike or a walk? All a bit subjective, but we think a hike is more likely to have a tough element whereas a walk is probably easier and not so long. So, this is the basis of our thoughts. The Bone Caves, near Inchnadamph probably just falls into the ‘hike’ category. It is somewhere we have been a few times and often recommend to guests who are never disappointed. It’s not just a simple there and back walk as there’s a good loop at one end. All in all it takes about 3 hours if you stop and admire the scenery and investigate the caves a little.

There’s fascinating geological things to see (a burn bubbling out of the limestone rock right in front of you). The likelihood of seeing wildlife is high and could include deer, ravens, raptors or just little grey wagtails depending on the season. The walk is in a moody valley with rugged walls and hills surrounding it. The caves are awesome and do actually go very deep if you are so inclined and equipped. The bones of a polar bear were found here many moons ago – estimated to have habited the caves 20,000 years ago. Also, it will get your heart pumping as there’s a bit of a hill to walk up.

Best Walk

There are so many walks to choose from. However, this walk is always there at the top of our list. Being only just over 10 minutes drive away, it is easy to get to in any season. It’s a circular walk which is always a good thing! It could take 45 minutes, it could take many hours depending on what you do. The walk along the cascading falls on the River Cassley that make up the Cassley Falls (aka Achness Falls) is beautiful. Whether the river is in full spate, a gentle flow or even frozen in the winter there is always a stunning micro landscape to admire. You might be lucky and see the salmon jump the falls in the summer. Even take a picnic and just chill on the lower banks closer to Rosehall. Just lovely.

Favourite Road

What makes a favourite road? There are so many things to consider…. However, beautiful scenery has to be the main driver. It’s not hard to find those roads here so how else do we choose? Well, we pick the Drumbeg Loop as there are so many places to stop off and have a mini adventure. No apologies for the puns here.

Best Wildlife Encounters

OMG, we have had such wildlife treats in the Highlands. However, our favourite is always the pine marten. There are several (up to 4 at once) that visit us. We have even come face to face with one in the shed. Not sure who was most alarmed – us or the pine marten. They are very intelligent and do not worry about us – as long as we watch from inside the house. They love to tease one of our cats through the window too. The most special times are when they come in on a summer evening when it is light and play all over our decking treating our place like a playground.

Don’t Miss

Many of our guests only stay 2 or 3 nights so what is it that they must see? Well, most people do want to see wildlife and so we recommend going to Loch Fleet Nature Reserve to see the seals. They are very reliably there – although one can never guarantee a wildlife experience! Laying out on the sandbanks at or around low tide there can be absolutely loads of them. The loch is very pretty too and the viewing spot is really easy to combine on any itinerary.

Where to Eat

The Pier inn Lairg is an easy first choice for us to recommend where to eat. Firstly, it is decent. Secondly, it is local. It is not a posh eat out – just good honest food. And, the cakes are amazing. It is often very busy so we would always recommend making a booking whatever time of year you visit. There are beautiful views out across Little Loch Shin which is often like a mirror.

Best Time of Year

Our favourite times of year are the shoulder seasons – that is outside of the summer peak and the cold winter. We particularly like these seasons as there are fabulous colours at play. There maybe the bronzes and golds of autumn or yellows of the spring with daffodils, gorse and broom. Also, it is not so busy and it can be easy to get an almost deserted beach. While most people come to stay in the summer, it is also worth mentioning winter when the scenery can be at its most oustanding. At the bottom is a photo of a hoar frost at sun rise.

From our Visitors