Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Ten things to Do in Dornoch: Day Trips

Dornoch is a fantastic place to base yourself if you are keen to explore the Northern Highlands. We have complied a list of our top ten Day Trips to help you plan your trip to Dornoch this summer.

Falls of Shin

Just 19 miles from Dornoch are the Shin Falls, on the road from Bonar Bridge to Lairg. The Falls are spectacular in their own right and very easily accessible, just a short walk from the road and car park. For much of the year Shin Falls are recognised as one of Scotland’s best places to see salmon leaping. Depending on the weather, fish can usually be seen jumping from mid May until late autumn as they make their way up river to spawn. The new Falls of Shin Visitor Centre opened in May 2017 and has a restaurant, shop and adventure playground. There are a range of woodland walks from the Falls car park from 20 minutes to over an hour. There is also a woodland play area (Suitable for children and adults!)

Castle of Mey

The Queen Mother acquired the Castle of Mey, the most northerly inhabited castle on the British mainland, in 1952. She renovated and restored it and created the beautiful gardens you see today. For almost half a century she spent many happy summers there and shorter visits at other times of the year. The Castle and Gardens of Mey have held Visit Scotland’s highest award of a 5 Star quality assurance grading every year since their first unannounced visit in 2007. Their annual assessments include all aspects of the castle, gardens, animal centre, gift shop and tearoom. Experience this stunning castle for yourself this summer. It is an easy and stunning 1 hour 50 minute drive form Dornoch, straight up the A9 (North Coast 500 Route)

Whaligoe Steps

Whaligoe Haven is surrounded on three sides by 250ft cliffs and forms one of the most remarkable harbours you will find anywhere in Scotland. It is reached by the Whaligoe Steps, which descend to the harbour: and a trip down the steps and the hard slog back up them make for a spectacular experience.
There is also a fantastic cafe to have your lunch or a cup of tea in after the walk!


The ferry port of Ullapool is situated on the shores of Loch Broom and is a beautiful 1.5 hour drive from Dornoch. This charming village is surrounded by incredible natural beauty including mountains, lochs and stunning shore lines.  Ferries go daily to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The village has a small museum housed in a Telford Church, An Talla Solais, an arts centre with frequently changing exhibitions and workshops, a swimming pool and fitness centre, shops and several pubs.

Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle is Scotland’s most northerly great house and a wonderful day out. As well as the castle itself which dates back to the 1300's and is full of treasures, the gardens, museum and falconry displays all contribute to an enjoyable visit for the whole family.
For full information on opening times and more information on the Castle and it's grounds, click here


This beautiful, historic village sits close to the tip of the Black Isle and can be accessed via the Nigg-Cromarty Ferry ( during the Summer months making it the perfect day trip from Dornoch. Great gift shops, cafes and even the chance to spot a dolphin on the way over!

Handa Island

A remote island off of the west coast which is famous for it's sea bird colonies. Discover magnificent Torridonian sandstone cliffs that rise from the Atlantic providing stunning ocean panoramas. Each summer, nearly 100,000 seabirds breed here, including internationally important numbers of guillemots, razorbills and great skuas. A real adventure and definitely one to add to the list for your trip.

Chanonry Point

Situated between Fortrose and Rosemarkie on the Black Isle, this is the best place locally to watch dolphins. This narrow peninsula is an ideal location with views across the Moray Firth to Fort George and with lots of fellow dolphin watchers you are unlikely to miss any sightings. Visit an hour before the high tide for your best chance of Dolphin sightings.


A harbour village on the A9 between Brora and Caithness, Helmsdale has beautiful scenery, a picturesque harbour and lovely places to eat and shop. Make sure you don't miss Timespan Museum and Arts Centre which can be found in the centre of the village. And why not try your hand at panning for gold in the Kildonan Burn whilst you are there!

Bonar Bridge

With the newly opened Kyle of Sutherland Hub, Bonar Bridge is a great place to go for a day out whilst staying in Dornoch. The Hub has a cafe, soft play area for children and a gym with fantastic views up the Kyle towards Lairg. Bonar Bridge also has another cafe, a shop, post office and award winning restaurant the Crannog. Visit Loch Migdale whilst you are there for great walks along the loch and through the hills above.


See our website for more Day Trips from Dornoch





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Plan for your 2018 Summer Holiday in the Highlands

We have already had a taste of summer weather, so let’s hope there is plenty more to come! If you are planning your summer break in Dornoch then take a look below at some of the highlights taking place in and around Dornoch over the next few months.

Dornoch Pipe Band

The longer evenings are with us every Saturday night during the summer you can watch the Pipe Band Parades (followed by highland dancing display) in the Square at 8pm.

Dornoch Gallery

The annual Dornoch Gallery Summer Exhibition runs 2nd-16th June in the Social Club. The Cathedral is hosting a range of musical events from local group Gizzen Briggs to Mahler Players’ and the Midland Odessa Choir.

Community Markets

The ever popular Community Markets take place on the Cathedral green throughout the summer months. Community Market days for 2018 are Wednesdays 13th June, 27th June, 11th July, 25th July, 8th August, 22nd August and 12th September. The markets runs from 9:30 am to 1 pm on the Cathedral Green. Come and browse up to 30 stalls with homegrown produce, plants, arts & crafts, baking, artisan bread, specialist chocolates, cheese, handmade cosmetics,  jewellery, gifts & clothing.

Sutherland County Show

This year the County Show is to be held on Dornoch Links on the 21st July. The Show is a spectacle with a whole range of attractions and entertainments for the whole family. The heart of the Show is the Livestock Section which showcases the excellent cattle, sheep, goats, horses and ponies from across the Highlands. A Food Fair, Fun Fair, dog show, vintage vehicle exhibition, terrier racing, pipe band, children’s races, horses and ponies, flower show and spectacular main ring events combine to make a memorable day which is rounded off with the marquee dance.

Dornoch Highland Gathering

The Dornoch Highland Gathering will take place this year on Friday 3rd August. It is a day that locals look forward to all year, where everyone can have fun. Visitors are very welcome. Come and enjoy the competitions for piping, Highland dancing, tossing the caber, putting the ball and throwing the hammer. Watch, or take part in, the track & field events of running, cycling, long jump and high jump. With fairground attractions, stalls and refreshments, children’s races and mini Highland games, this is a day out for all the family.

Dornoch Festival Week

Dornoch Festival Week has a packed programme of family activities including sandcastle competition, children’s fancy dress, children’s sports, family quiz night, car treasure hunt, ceilidh tea dance, pipe band parade, bingo, 5 -a -side football, golf competitions, films, and a teddy bear’s picnic!

For more events taking place this summer click here 

For a detailed listing of What’s On in June 1-30 click here

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Ten Things to DO in Dornoch: History and Heritage

The Highlands of Scotland are well known for their rich history and heritage. Discover all about the history of the Dornoch area- and the whole of the Northern Highlands- during your next trip. There are historical sites, castles, museums and tours galore! We have come up with ten of our favourite historical 'things to do' in the area, take a look at our list below.

1) The Witch's Stone

In a garden of a cottage in Littletown, on the way to Dornoch beach, stands a small stone marked with the year 1722. This is known as the Witch's Stone and marks the spot where the last execution in Scotland for witchcraft took place. The year marked is actually wrong, it was 1727 that Janet Horne met her fate on this spot. She was accused of using witchcraft to turn her daughter into the devil's pony- The reason for being accused however may have been the fact that Janet's daughter had a deformed hand.

2) Dornoch Cathedral

The first service was held in 1239 and it continues today as a parish church. Originally Roman Catholic rites were observed but since the Reformation it has been part of the Church of Scotland. The Cathedral has many interesting features, not least the gargoyles on the exterior. The Cathedral is open every day and visitors are welcome. From mid May to mid September volunteers are on hand to welcome visitors and tell them about the Cathedral, Monday to Friday from 10.00 am until 4.00 pm.

3) Historylinks Museum

Historylinks is one of the very few 5 star museums in Scotland. Dedicated to the history of Dornoch parish, current displays include a golf professional’s workshop where Donald Ross honed his skills, Carnegie at home at Skibo, the shameful burning of Scotland’s last condemned witch and the impact of the Picts and the Vikings. Films include Sutherland in 1950 and the Dornoch Light Railway. Visitor translations in German, French, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.

4) Timespan Museum and Arts Centre: Helmsdale

Timespan provides a unique experience and resource for visitors, artists, researchers and locals. With art exhibitions and a fantastic museum as well as cafe to relax in, it is well worth a visit.

5) Tain Museum

Tain and District Museum is home to an extensive and varied collection of objects, photographs and archives of local, regional and national significance. Their opening hours are: April, May, September and October: Mon-Fri 10am until 5pm. June, July, August: Mon-Sat 10am until 5pm

6) The Pictish Trail

Discover the Pictish trail during your visit to Dornoch. This historic trail originates in Inverness, passing the Black Isle and over the Cromarty Bridge to Easter Ross and through into Sutherland up as far as Golspie. You can also view stones in the Tarbat discovery centre in Portmahomack:

7) Castles

Are you a fan of the TV series Outlander? Why not become a castle hunter and discover Sutherland's 24 castles! These include the Castle of Mey- the Queen Mother's house- near Wick, Dunrobin Castle in Golspie, and Ardvreck Castle near Lochinver. Some are spectacular ruins and some are beautifully maintained with visitor facilities but all are worth a visit.

8) Carn Liath

Between Golspie and Brora lies Carn Liath, the Grey Cairn. This broch has a well preserved entrance passage and walls which are still 12ft in some places. It is situated on the North Coast 500 a mile north of Dunrobin Castle.

9) Inverness Museum

Learn about Scottish history and discover how the Highlands are linked with the rest of the world. Experience Highland contemporary art and crafts – or just browse around before enjoying a cup of tea in Cobbs Tea House.

10) The Historylinks Trail

A flat walking tour of Dornoch's past told through a series of 15 interpretation panels withing the town (and one at Meikle Ferry - 4 miles away).The starting point for the trail is Historylinks Museum and a leaflet, available at the reception desk, includes a map and details of the main locations to be visited.There is a display board at each site but, if you wish to have more detail, illustrated guide books in English, Gaelic, French, German and Italian are available for purchase at the museum shop.


Enjoy your visit to Dornoch and do get in touch with us through our facebook page if you have any questions or would like some advice about where to visit or what to do during your stay.

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

What’s on in Dornoch in March

What's On This Month?

Well, March has come in like a lion and Dornoch has been well covered in snow! However, the weather is looking better for FibreFest 9-11 March - when we welcome all those interested in wool, fabric and craft work. This year the event is expanding into Dornoch Cathedral where there is a Quilt Display from 'Off the Wall' Scottish textile artists. Masterclasses, drop-in sessions and sales tables are held in the West Church Hall and Dornoch Social Club, with the opening talk 'My Journey as a Weaver' by Jan Beadle in St Finnbarr's Church.

Don't forget Mother's Day  on March 11th with a gift of flowers from Budding Genius, jewellery from Jail Dornoch, candles for Coast Candle Co., chocolates from Cocoa Mountain or her favourite tipple from the Carnegie Whisky Cellars

Take a look at our 'What's On' Calendar here to discover some fantastic events taking place across the Northern Highlands in March. Our five-star museum - Historylinks - opens daily 10-4 for the season from 30th March until 31st October.

And looking ahead to April, why not plan your Easter weekend in Dornoch. New for 2018 is the week-long Gilbert Festival 1-8 April with a programme of events for all the family.

For more information see our monthly newsletter

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Fancy a Weekend break in Scotland over Easter? Come to Dornoch!

Whether you are planning a weekend break in Scotland over Easter or are planning to spend the whole Easter holidays here, come to Dornoch and discover all we have on offer in this beautiful and unspoiled area of the country. Only an hour from Inverness airport on the main A9 road, Dornoch is very accessible from London, Belfast, Dublin, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol. There are also great train links from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

What is there to DO in and around Dornoch?

Visit the magical Loch Fleet, our very own nature reserve,  where at low tides you are almost guaranteed to spot seals bathing in the sunshine. Dornoch's award winning beach is stunning at all times of year but the Spring sunshine is when it looks its absolute best. Perfect for rock pooling with the children, walking for miles with your dogs and getting in some refreshing wild swimming! Visit Whisky Distilleries and Castles, go exploring on foot or by bike or even travel over to the wild West coast for the day! You will never be bored in Dornoch!

Don’t forget you can find out loads of local information on our website as well as ideas of things to do such as:  Wildlife, Do More experiences, Golf, Whisky and Shopping!

Check out our range of hotel, bed & breakfast and self-catering accommodation

Contact us through our Facebook page

Follow us on Twitter

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Dornoch Fibre Fest: 9th-11th March 2018

Fibre Fest, held in mid-March each year, has become a fixture in the Dornoch Calendar and is an opportunity for you to immerse yourself in all things fibre. Spinning, weaving, patchwork and printing; all these feature regularly either as Masterclasses or drop-in demonstrations where you can try new skills. And of course it provides a great opportunity to browse the market area where you can buy those essential additions absolutely necessary to any serious fibre worker’s stash - and to sell you excess stash too.

In 2018 the opening talk ‘My Journey as a Weaver’ is by Jan Beadle, who is a designer and weaver of contemporary textiles for fashion, interiors and accessories. So come along to St Finnbarr's Church at 6:30pm on Friday 9th March. Admission is £5 on the door which includes a soup and cheese supper at the Social Club following the talk. This year there are masterclasses in weaving and printing.

Then the weekend continues on Saturday & Sunday 10am - 4pm with stalls and events at the West Church Hall and the Social club.  There will be a wide variety of craft materials available to purchase and a number of classes and drop-in demonstrations where you can learn new skills. Classes must be booked in advance but drop-in sessions are free to all.

For the first time the festival expands into Dornoch Cathedral where throughout the weekend (after mid-day on Sunday) there is a Quilt Display by ‘Off the Wall’ Scottish Textile Artists.

This year’s competition is kindly sponsored by the Royal Dornoch Golf Club and the theme is a handcrafted soft toy, not to exceed 18″ in any dimension. Entries must be at the West Church Hall by 11am, Saturday 10th March.

For more information click here


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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What’s on in Dornoch in February

What's On This Month?

Of course, it's the month of love! Whether you're loved up or happily single, Dornoch has something for you.

The Dornoch Castle Hotel is doing an amazing Valentines Day offer where you get an exclusive discounted rate of £35 per room as a Valentines Day special offer! A romantic meal & night away awaits you at Dornoch Castle Hotel. Find out more information here. This offer has a limited availability and won’t be around for long so make sure you don't miss out.

While in Dornoch buy your Valentine a gift - flowers from Budding Genius, jewellery from Jail Dornoch, candles for Coast Candle Co., chocolates from Cocoa Mountain or their favourite tipple from the Carnegie Whisky Cellars

Check out the Valentine's menu at the Eagle Hotel

Take a look at our 'What's On' Calendar here to discover some fantastic events taking place across the Northern Highlands in February.

And looking ahead to March, why not plan your Highland weekend around FibreFest 9-11 March - for all those interested in wool, fabric and craft work.

For more information see our monthly newsletter

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