Scottish Travel Itineraries: Inverness and Highlands

Loch Ness. Picture: Visit Scotland

Loch Ness. Picture: Visit Scotland

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The romantic Highlands of Scotland have a huge variety of attractions to offer visitors. Outdoor activities, historic sites and delicious food abound in this dramatic northern landscape. To help you find the best Scottish holiday, we have compiled some itineraries, so you can discover the Highlands’ magic for yourself.

INVERNESS

Glenfinnan Viaduct. Picture: submitted

Glenfinnan Viaduct. Picture: submitted

Inverness is right in the heart of the Highlands. Kingsmills Hotel is conveniently close to the centre, and the Inverness Golf Club is right next door. The hotel is a four-star luxury haven of comfort, which offers old-fashioned Scottish hospitality. The modern and the classic are combined to create tranquil bedrooms with views of the hotel’s gardens. There is also a spa and leisure club, to ensure you are both happy and healthy during your stay.

The Inverness Golf Club was established in 1883 by George Smith and JJ Fraser, and continues to be a popular golfing destination. The fairways are lines with trees, and the greens are kept immaculate. James Braid, the five times open champion, has made specific alterations to enhance the golfing experience.

If you want to go a little further afield, take a trip to the Glen Ord Distillery. There are a wide variety of tours to suit all tastes, which offer insight into the whisky-making process and give you a taste of the distillery’s own whisky.

Inverness’s River House restaurant is only twenty minutes’ walk from the hotel, and is well worth a visit. “Seasonal” and “sustainable” are the restaurant’s watch words, which has earned them a “Taste Our Best” accreditation from Visit Scotland. The freshest oysters and mussels are prepared with care, and the meat and fish are cooked with skill.

The Culloden Visitor Centre. Picture: Jane Barlow

The Culloden Visitor Centre. Picture: Jane Barlow

CULLODEN

Culloden is most famous for the battle which took place in 1746. Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite forces were defeated by the Duke of Cumberland within only an hour, with many casualties. The new visitor centre has an interactive exhibition which will immerse you in the story of Culloden, and you can walk the real battlefield where the soldiers fought.

Thirty minutes away, there is Brodie Castle, which was another important place in Highland history. It was built in 1567, and has been restored by the National Trust. You can discover the castle’s quirky artefacts and explore the estate’s nature trails, but it’s the castle’s baronial architecture that is the most impressive.

Culloden House Hotel is just ten minutes drive from the battlefield, and thirty minutes from Brodie Castle. Bonnie Prince Charlie himself used this house as headquarters just before the bloody battle. The hotel stands in forty acres of grounds, and the dungeon has been converted into a relaxing sauna. Furthermore, the Guardian named the hotel’s restaurant as one of the top 60 independent restaurants in the UK. The chef focuses on Scottish ingredients, selecting the best meat, fish and game in the country.

Glen Ord Distillery. Picture: submitted

Glen Ord Distillery. Picture: submitted

GLENFINNAN

Harry Potter fans will be in seventh heaven in Glenfinnan. The Jacobite steam train crosses the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, which the Hogwarts Express speeds across in the Harry Potter films. The train journey is an excellent way to enjoy the spectacular Scottish landscape.

Glenfinnan is also home to the Glenfinnan Monument, which is a tribute to the men who died in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. It was designed by James Gillespie Graham, the Scottish architect. The visitor centre is a great place to learn about the Jacobites and their campaign to put Charles Edward Stuart on the throne.

Inverlochy Castle Hotel is just twenty five minutes’ drive from Glenfinnan. When Queen Victoria saw Inverlochy Castle in 1873, she said that she “never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot”. This ringing endorsement has attracted many couples to the castle, who have been consistently impressed by the stunning views, the delectable cuisine and the luxuriant comfort the hotel provides. The rooms sparkle with gilt and crystal, but modern conveniences are not forgotten. Bang and Olufsen stereos and TVs are a must for Inverlochy, as are waterfall showers.

LOCH NESS

Ever wanted to catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster? If you take a cruise from Fort Augustus on the shores of Loch Ness, you may be lucky and spot the mysterious creature. Cruise Loch Ness offers daily cruises which allow you to appreciate the loch in all its natural glory. The boats also have the best Sonar equipment, so you can get a full picture of the loch as a habitat.

Fort Augustus is also home to a fantastic golf club. It was designed in 1924 by Harry Shapland Colt, and has remained largely unchanged since that time. It is known as the most challenging golf course in Scotland, so anyone who likes to test themselves will be right at home here.

Only ten minutes from the golf course is the Lovat Hotel, which is the only four star, three rosette hotel in the Loch Ness area. It is an eco-conscious hotel, housed in a fabulous Victorian building. The rooms are bright and welcoming, and decorated in a cosy, traditional style with contemporary features. The restaurant was named the Best Restaurant in the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards, so you can be sure it will not disappoint.

CASTLES

If castles are your thing, the Highlands are a perfect place to visit. Macdonald Drumossie Hotel is within reach of two fantastic castles, and is itself a top-class, four-star, two-rosette establishment. It is set in nine acres of parkland, and has breathtaking views of the Moray Firth. It is also close to central Inverness, making for a convenient location. The Grill Room restaurant has won awards for its cuisine, and the rooms are spacious and tranquil.

Urquart Castle is thirty five minutes’ drive from the hotel, and has 1,000 years of dramatic history to its name. The Grant tower offers an amazing panorama of the countryside, and the great hall is very atmospheric. There is also a working trebuchet to investigate, showing the ingenious technology used in siege warfare.

Cawdor Castle is twenty minutes from the hotel, and has links with the infamous king Macbeth. A local legend says that the castle was built around a thorn three, which was in fact a holly bush from the 14th century, which is still in the castle dungeon. The grounds, golf course, shops and restaurant are sure to keep you busy.

Inverness’s Rocpool Restaurant is just a fifteen minute drive from Drumossie, offering views of the River Ness and modern European cuisine. The décor is modern and and utilises natural wood tones. Popular dishes include the Speyside venison and the tempura of turbot.

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