Best Loch Ness tours for exclusive use holidays

When you decide to book an exclusive use stay in Aldourie Castle on the southern shores of Loch Ness, there is no need to venture much further beyond the Estate’s walls with so much to see and do on Loch Ness and in the Scottish Highlands around Inverness.

Two types of tours we are concentrating on for this blog post are nature and wildlife tours and boat tours on Loch Ness. The Highlands are famous for their lochs as well as their impressive landscapes and unique wildlife, so what better way to make you, our a private house party of guests, feel at home than by telling you all about what helps make the Scottish Highlands so welcoming and wonderful. The whimsical mountainous peaks and the fascinating natural world are what keeps people coming back to Aldourie year after year.Applecross peninsula, Scotland

Nature and Wildlife tours

Take the Applecross Peninsula Day Trip from Inverness, a nine-hour day trip on a luxury tour that takes you to the less-visited part of Scotland, the windswept Applecross Peninsula. You will spot an abundance of wildlife native to the region and be transported to a dreamland as you soak up the dramatic views of wild Highlands’s scenery. A visit to the the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, Britain’s oldest in fact, will supply you with enough knowledge to understand and appreciate the history of the area as well as the nature that thrives there. Look out for golden eagles soaring overhead. You will be eager to explore the many easy trails giving you and your private house party groups the chance to discover the true wildlife of the Scottish Highlands.

As you arrive in the village of Arndarroch, admire views of Loch Kishorn, then attempt the steep Bealach nam Ba (Pass of the Cattle). At the top (2,000 feet high), an extraordinary natural view will spill out before you; possibly your first sight of the Isle of Skye. From here, take the scenic drive along the shoreline of Loch Torridon, stopping part-way to explore the town of Shieldaig.

Dolphin spotting near Loch Ness

Another wonderful way to complement your exclusive use holiday in a luxury Scottish Castle is to venture out onto the wild waters of the Moray Firth, a triangular inlet of the North Sea with a stunning coastline, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the even wilder dolphin.  One of the best places to spot this beautiful and intelligent aquatic mammal is at Chanonry Point near Inverness. The dolphin-spotting area lays between Fortrose and Rosemarkie on the Black Isle and the best time to see them is during a rising tide. See moraydolphins.co.uk for details on tide times.towards-beinn-eighe

For the ultimate dolphin spotting experience, Aldourie Castle recommends the boat tours that depart from inverness. The Dolphin Spirit encapsulates many aspects in one; you will be able to admire the natural landscape of Moray Firth as well as observe the wildlife in the area including herons and otters.

The thing to remember with dolphin spotting trips is how wild the animal is. That is part of its beauty; the fact that they are highly intelligent with a captivating sense of fun only adds to the delight of witnessing a dolphin in its own habitat. So, if you are lucky enough to see the dolphins that truly is a wonderful experience to hold onto. However, they are not there to perform or entertain, although their balletic dives may appear to have been rehearsed, so try not to be disappointed if you don’t catch a glimpse. And just hope they will grace you with their presence next time.


A Scottish New Year tradition: Hogmanay

While most of the world will be celebrating ‘just another’ New Year’s Eve on 31st December, the Scots are preparing for a celebration fest but the importance they place on this night and beyond is a tradition like no other. For Scotland, Hogmanay is the biggest celebration in the festive calendar – bigger even than Christmas Day – and it’s certainly worth waiting for. You thought the Highland Games was a cultural signifier; think again…

hogmanay-edinburgh

Definition of Hogmanay and its origins

Hogmanay is the name the Scots give to their celebrations on New Year’s Eve. It is unclear where the actual word originated from though history suggests that its common roots reach back to the Norsemen – “men of the north” – in Scandinavia (between the 8th – 11th Centuries) who celebrated the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year) with wild parties during late December. Such parties eventually began to feature elements from the Gaelic Samhain winter festival and the Vikings’ Yule, and these celebrations were labelled ‘daft days’ by the Scots. Now that Hogmanay has been established for a few centuries it culminates in a real mix of cultural, national and historical influences. The best celebrations always do!

How do Hogmanay celebrations differ from New Year’s Eve?

One of the major differences between Hogmanay and the traditional New Year’s Eve parties is the length; the former begins on 31st December but continues throughout New Year’s Day and into 2nd January (itself a public holiday in Scotland). This then divides the two celebrations culturally too as while the rest of the UK is generally easing back  and business recommences, the streets in Scotland remain deserted.hogmanay scotland

How the big Scottish cities do it

Hogmanay is celebrated throughout Scotland in varying degrees from the intimate yet ‘daft’ gatherings to the elaborate, eccentric festivals. The big cities fall into the latter category and Edinburgh leads the way with a huge 30th December torch-lit parade, an enviable fireworks display and various performances from up-and-coming acts to full blown rock stars. Everything is performed wholeheartedly to (always) enthusiastic, (sometimes) bemused crowds from more than 60 different countries. Either way, people feel privileged to be part of the throng and tradition that is Hogmanay.

The Scottish capital’s largest crowd totalled 400,000 in 1996 and since then safety restrictions mean fewer people though the numbers are still high. Glasgow is another city that doesn’t disappoint and the Glaswegians can be seen singing, dancing, eating steak pie and stew, drinking by the gallon and storytelling till the sun rises on New Year’s Day.

The importance of Hogmanay to the Scottish people

It is only in recent years that Scotland began to celebrate Christmas. The festive holiday was abolished by the Protestant Reformation for 400 years and it wasn’t until 1958 that Christmas Day was accepted as a public holiday in Scotland. Then, in 1974 Boxing Day was announced as a public holiday. Scotland instead had to work through Christmas and wait until Hogmanay to celebrate with family and friends. Is it any wonder now that this traditional get-together has become an exciting explosion of freedom and fun!hogmanay scotland

Celebrate Hogmanay your way this year

It has to be said, there is no hiding it; the Scots love a good party. Therefore that is usually the main focus of Hogmanay. But, if you’re lucky enough to witness this special celebratory period in Scotland you may observe, though you might not know them to be at first, a number of traditions as well.

The most popular tradition is ‘first-footing’ where the first person to enter the house after midnight brings gifts such as food or coal. First-footing is regarded as affecting the fortune of the household for the coming year and this is dependent on the appearance of the visitor; the ideal guest is a tall, dark man…if you open the door to a flat-coat retriever called Lizzie wearing a Santa hat…well, you can guess the rest.

Other traditions can include watching abominable and cheesy TV programmes (ones you would never ordinarily choose to watch, of course) before the bells chime and linking arms whilst singing with all the clan, a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, the famous poem written by Robert Burns.

Celebrate Hogmanay in a Scottish Castle

Speaking of which, why not book your New Year’s celebrations at Aldourie Castle on Lochaldourie-castle-loch-nes-tea-and-champagne-020 Ness? It’s unique, luxurious and scenic; the perfect backdrop to a house party style that’s seen a lot more of Scotland’s history than anyone alive today. While there’s no rules to celebrating Hogmanay, maybe your first attempt could be kept quite simple with the core elements of Scottish culture at its heart. Many Scottish families this year will be sitting down to a delicious meal with family and friends with the drink flowing – oh, please don’t forget the whisky – to help bring in the new year followed by a steak pie dinner the next day. Should your head be a little sore ask any one of our dedicated hospitality team for a glass of Irn Bru (or a bottle). We’re almost certain this bright orange fizzy drink has been curing hangovers for centuries too.


Christmas & New Year stays in Scotland

Why not make Christmas 2016 the year you decide to do something different? But why wait until the New Year to make your resolutions? Set a date now and start looking forward…

The beautiful, unassuming yet captivating Scottish Highlands does not ask anything of anyone. It looks down from above at all its worth – the majesty of its hills, the uniqueness of its landmarks and the intensity of its history. The vast wilderness of the Scottish Highlands is always there, like any other landscape, continuing as usual underneath these huge ever-changing skies.

Imagine entering a world like no other; a freeing endless space just waiting to be discovered by someone new. Whether your Christmas family holidays are usually land based with cycling routes and long country walks or water based with loch cruises, dolphin watching or canoeing, there is everything in the Highlands to keep your boredom at bay and your imagination running wild.

So, where do you stay in order to appreciate and experience a really traditional Scottish Christmas and New Year? Here at Aldourie we have the best of both worlds: catered exclusive use stays with lashings of luxury or self-catered stays in the heart of the Highlands countryside. Both are tempting, we agree, and also offer instant access to the famous waters of Loch Ness.

A cottage Christmas

Children and adults alike will enjoy at least some of what the Scottish Highlands has to offer, if not all, through a traditional short break stay over Christmas weekend in either Gate or Pier Cottage, the perfect family or couples’ holiday cottages on Loch Ness. Christmas is a social time for street festivals, festive markets and parties as well as intimate family time exploring landscapes, unearthing history and tasting fabulous food together. Couples can escape to the Highlands of Scotland to experience the romance of its magical landscape so much of which can be found in the deep valleys of the country’s mountainous walks.

Scotland has so much to offer. There are cities for the vibrant souls who are looking for a festive party atmosphere and there are quieter destinations like the quaint towns and villages of Dornoch, Fort William and Glencoe to name but a few. In the latter you will find delicious festive food and drink, picture perfect snow-topped views and a variety of frosty walks and cycle paths. Further up out of the towns there are even some well coursed mountain biking routes, ideal for the adventurers amongst you. Fancy some culture? Scotland’s rich history will captivate and shock you.

New Year in a Castle

Fancy gliding along Loch Ness through the darkness and spotting beautiful Aldourie illuminated through the trees on New Years’ Eve? We can organise a cruise or speedboat ride so that you can experience just that. In fact, just about anything is possible with an exclusive use stay at Aldourie.

Some firm family favourites of previous exclusive use New Year’s house parties are archery in front of the Castle, falconry days and walking on water (or zorbing) – a great one for the kids as the minimum age is five years old. For those who want to explore the nature-filled Highlands independently during the festive season Aldourie can recommend the best walks and cycling routes but if you prefer a guide we can organise that instead.

After so much fun and activity to help bring in the New Year you can relax back at the Castle with a spa treatment or two; our favoured supplies can offer a personal service during your stay – a hot stone massage or an Indian head massage would go down a treat after a day hiking the hills of the Black Isle or taking in the rich culture of the city of Inverness. Later, whisky or wine tasting in the Library or Drawing Room could perfectly end well-rounded New Year’s Day at Aldourie Castle.

 


Daily flights from London to Inverness benefit Scottish tourism

This year has seen a tidal wave of new business come to Inverness through both leisure and corporate tourism. Since May 2016 Inverness airport has welcomed travellers from London Heathrow on a daily basis. The direct flight is a great benefit to corporate travellers who wish to commute to Scotland, both from London and from overseas. Aldourie Castle has been host to many American guests as a result of this convenient new flight, who see the advantage of a little longer airtime in order to experience the beautiful and wild Scottish Highlands and mesmerising Loch Ness.Looking over Loch Ness towards Aldourie Castle. Scottish Tourism at its Best.

British Airways decided to resume the daily flight to Inverness Airport, which is just outside of Aldourie Castle Estate, a journey that stopped in 1997. Aldourie, for one, was extremely confident of the benefits to corporate travellers who would be opened up to a more accessible location that is both versatile and spectacular; the Scottish Highlands. Ideal for corporate events and important business meetings, the Highlands is home to a few exclusive use country Estates whose benefits include a whole manner of things including peaceful settings, striking backdrops, impressive facades, luxury bedrooms and first class, five star hospitality.

Since May this year the direct flight linking London tourism to Scotland has operated as a year-round service with its first flight of the day departing from Heathrow just before 10am with an afternoon flight from Inverness back to London.

This remains an exciting opportunity for Inverness, the Highlands’ capital, which already has a strong link to economy, for example through oil business in Aberdeen. The tourism offering in the Highlands can capitalise further from travellers flying in from overseas and London who previously may not have considered travelling up to Scotland to hold their multi-generational family holiday, luxury Scottish holiday, annual corporate event or board of directors meeting.luxury bedroom Aldourie Loch Ness - Scottish Tourism

The fact that this is another attainable option available to both the leisure and business tourism markets diversifies the British hospitality scene in general. It also makes a location once considered unusual and possibly logistically complicated, on par with the more conventional formats offered by popular high end venues in the UK.

What can a country estate offer overseas corporate clients?

A change in scenery and culture is something that places like Aldourie Castle on Loch Ness can offer guests who have travelled by plane from overseas or London, which as we already know can work wonders for holidaymakers. A conducive environment can help guests to relax, focus and put things in perspective; all attributes a business would hope for in a corporate hospitality location or property.aldourie castle loch ness Scottish Tourism

Aldourie has spent time and effort in enticing London and overseas businesses to take advantage of the direct flight from Heathrow to Inverness to both encourage a more affluent hospitality business in the Scottish Highlands and a varied approach in what is considered to be luxury in corporate travel. Meetings, events and client incentive stays are just some of the ways in which corporate guests can enjoy exclusive use stays in places like Aldourie. We have already seen an increase in interest from corporate clients who are interested in using the private hire Castle as a multi-functional business venue.


The history and meaning behind the four-poster bed

When you think of luxury in the bedroom what are your first thoughts? Fluffy white towels, polished bronze taps in a huge en-suite, a fleece robe with matching slippers or silk sheets? Now, take yourself back a few hundred years and think what luxury would have meant then. Possibly something very simple at heart but large and robust enough to make a visual and physical impact.

The four-poster bed has a long history and was built with function in mind but also undeniably very symbolic of status. So, who had them? It was customary for royalty and noblemen to own a four-poster bed and any merchant who had one was seen as being very successful indeed.luxury bedroom Aldourie Castle four-poster bed

Where did it come from?

For such a bold-looking piece of furniture known worldwide for its undisguisable structure it is fascinating to learn that the origins of the four-poster bed are unknown. It is, however, thought to have derived in Austria before arriving in England where it captured the hearts of the British aristocracy who fell for its uniqueness and stately style.

Records show that the four-poster bed was in existence in the late C14th and early C15th. Like any idea that has the longevity to remain throughout the centuries, the four-poster bed started very simply in its design.  Originally, beds themselves were literally no more than hard boards covered in fur or quilts. What came next is interesting: the canopy part of the structure, added to the bed in the C13th, which was suspended from the ceiling and not attached to the bed in any way. Then side curtains were added, supported by beams that were built into the bed frame. Can you picture this? The four-poster bed was born.luxury bedroom Aldourie Loch Ness four-poster bed

Function and style

We mentioned that practicality played a large part in the creation of the four-poster bed. Ironically, the aspect of the beds that make them most attractive and inviting and which have given them historical charm are those which were added out of pure function. Bedrooms – or bedchambers – in the C13th had a chill about them and were often draughty. So the curtains that you would think were added to draw around the beds to give them more style were in fact to keep the sleeper warm during the night. Another reason for the drapes was to afford the lords and ladies of the time some privacy as their servants would often sleep in their rooms with them overnight.

Once the structure of the four-poster was fully established, design began to play a huge part in differentiating it for both class and country. The beds of nobility were ornately carved, painted and decorated in coats of arms of the family to which they belonged. Lavish fabrics such as silk would adorn the beds and the bed frame itself would increase in size and weight; the larger and heavier the bed, the more status the sleeper held in society. As the French adopted the four-poster, it became lighter and narrower to give a sleeker, more elegant look and generally as the years went by iron would replace the traditional English wooden frame of walnut or oak.luxury bedroom Aldourie Castle four-poster bed

Why do Aldourie bedrooms have four-poster beds?

Aldourie features a range of four-poster beds in various styles. We are style conscious as an exclusive use property should be but also concern for the comfort of the Castle’s guests is paramount. Notice how the rooms bring out each bed as a statement piece of furniture paying tribute to the historical style and its place in a stately property.

Open the door of an Aldourie Castle bedroom to reveal a four-poster and you are immediately transported back a hundred years or more, to a time of enchantment (think Disney – Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella), magic (think specifically Bedknobs and Broomsticks; a small, (flying) four-poster but it had four posts nonetheless) and luxury. By luxury we mean comfort, contentment, security; all the things you feel once you are wrapped up safely within these four posts. Once the curtains fall around you in an Aldourie Castle four-poster bed you need nothing else in order to escape into a happy slumber.


Halloween House Party in a castle; get spooked in Scotland

If you’re planning a holiday or family short break over Halloween why not go overboard and book a private castle in the wild Scottish Highlands? Even better, a Castle that looks out across the eerily silent yet constantly moving Loch Ness. And of that variety, there is only one: Aldourie. OK, so it doesn’t possess the spookiest name (in fact it’s quite magical) but with a little help from your hosts and some imagination we can convert your Halloween stay into a spooky holiday to remember.

Here are three excellent ideas for making the most out of a Halloween stay in the Scottish Highlands.

Old fashioned Halloween activities – for the traditionalist

Stick with the tried and tested route during your exclusive use group stay in a private castle.  Start your Halloween adventure early by getting up early with the children to go out and buy some pumpkins to celebrate the famous night. Also look out for little trick or treat and fancy dress items, Halloween chocolates and bits of material in blacks, oranges, silvers and reds.  Later, carve pumpkins by scooping out the flesh and creating scary faces with a sharp knife – why not set up a competition for the scariest face!pumpkins Halloween

Your countdown to Halloween Night can also be made up of creating your lucky dip box. Fill a large cardboard box with polystyrene or shredded paper (usually the Estate Office or hospitality team would be able to provide you with these or something similar) and then carefully add your trick or treat items into the mix. This will add a fun spin to your trick or treating later on.

It’s nearly time for Trick or Treat. Set one of the downstairs rooms up as the fancy dress space and encourage everyone to dress up as their chosen ghoul or character ready to sit down for an Addams Family style dinner. Afterwards, enjoy Halloween buns that you’ve baked with the kids during the afternoon. Ask the youngsters to decorate the Castle with pumpkins, adding them on every other windowsill as well as outside the house or castle door, therefore transforming your exclusive use holiday property into ‘a haunted house in the middle of nowhere’.Looking over Loch Ness towards Aldourie Castle. Halloween

Theme your night ‘Halloween’ – for the brave

Playing make-believe in a turreted castle in vast, private grounds is easy to convince children to do but Halloween themed hen parties, for example, can also have a ball with more adults and humorous characters from, say, The Rocky Horror Show. A Halloween house party would not be complete without a soundtrack of well-chosen spooky songs and theme tunes. During the day download some music from the Internet and create a Halloween song list on Spotify to play once the sun goes down.

Light candles in the centre of your pumpkin faces, turn off all the main lights and tell ghost stories in the library into the evening. Watch horror movies in the Castle whilst drinking spiced cider or hot chocolate. For those too scared to go to bed afterwards, don’t worry, most of the bedrooms in an exclusive use property have space for a huddle of people and you can also double up if you have one of the single rooms. Just remember, of course, to check under the bed.15-aldourie-estate-graveyard-entrance Halloween

Use the Estate after dark – for the bravest

At Aldourie you can tour the grounds – visit the ancient family graveyard, go on a frightening storytelling walk through the woodland followed by a torch-lit boat trip on the loch. The bravest among you can play Hide and Seek. At Aldourie your seeker can count up in the tree house whilst those of you hiding can use the deepest depths of the exclusive use property and Estate. Remember, there’s always a wine cellar and secret servant corridors, as well as the woods – but only if you dare.

And for those who appreciate an excuse to do something different but shudder at the thought of booking their short break or holiday over the 31st October, you can always take the calmer approach. Exclusive use gusts of Aldourie can sit with their pumpkin friends around a fire on Dores Beach and watch the sun go down whilst happily toasting marshmallows and sipping hot chocolate. Because, honestly now, not everything has to be so spooky over Halloween.


How to choose the best golfing holiday in Scotland

Sometimes the prospect of booking a holiday can cause more stress than satisfaction especially when the holiday is as specific as a group golfing break in the Scottish Highlands. Because this type of holiday is booked so often by groups of golfing buddies and corporate groups looking for client incentive stays in Scotland there is so much on offer in terms of golfing accommodation and golf courses not to mention golf packages that include everything in one place. With everything covered by the endless Scottish travel and tourism platforms you would think this would be an easy feat but more often than not, with so much to choose from, it can make booking a short break a hassle and a complicated chore.

You decide on one five star group accommodation and then realise your favourite golf course is miles away. Or the competition for hotels is so rife that it’s difficult to decide which would offer you the better experience. Not to mention the fact that you’ve waited ages to get everyone in your golfing group’s availability for the same five days that you then need a long break to recover from booking the short one. Phew! So, how can we help? We simplify your choices and make your decisions easy.Royal Dornoch golfing holiday

Tip 1: Decide which is the most important: golf course or holiday base?

Is it all in the name of sport or is breakfast in bed a must? If your surroundings and the location of your golfing holiday base is going to be very important in the booking of your Scottish holiday it is better to research your group accommodation options in the areas you like before finding a golf course or courses you love only to find there is not the type of property to suit your short break in the near vicinity. The Scottish Highlands, in particular Loch Ness, offers an abundance of scenic landscape and walks as well as endless water and land based recreational things to do.

If you were to choose Aldourie Castle – literally on the shores of southern Loch Ness – as your luxury golfing holiday property we can recommend a few golf courses of prestige within a very reasonable distance from the 500 acre Estate. Follow each link below to find out what each golf course entails:

Nairn Golf Club – on the shores of Moray Firth, a 45 minute drive from Aldourie Estate.
Royal Dornoch – championship course ranked No 5 in the world, just over 50 miles from Aldourie
Castle Stuart – a shoreline course overlooking well-known landmarks just under 30 minute drive from Aldourie

Tip 2 – Limit your type of group accommodation

Whether you opt for a Castle on Loch Ness or a yurt in the Highland hills, decide on the definition of ‘the ultimate golfing holiday accommodation’ for the whole group before you start looking for your Scottish holiday destination and that way you have one main aim and will filter your search dramatically.luxury castle accommodation loch ness golfing holiday

Unfortunately our knowledge of yurts and any other form of glamping is pretty limited but if you do go down the route of luxury castle accommodation in the Scottish Highlands here is a little hint of what you can expect for an exclusive use week on Loch Ness.

What to expect from the castle:

Luxury bedrooms of all shapes and sizes but all offering spacious and private settings with stunning window views either on to Loch Ness itself or across the lush parkland of the Scottish Highlands private hire Estate.

Five star hospitality is guaranteed at Aldourie, from the warm welcome to the homely atmosphere presiding throughout the Castle; from the log burning fires frequently tended to the comfy four poster beds and luxurious roll top baths.

Exceptional Scottish food and drink is overflowing when your stay in a privately owned Scottish castle. Be prepared for real Scottish cuisine and decadent desserts – and full Scottish breakfast is a must. From fresh fish and salad dishes to warming roasts and game pies our chef can cater for pre-golfing and post-golfing appetites.

An informal atmosphere and everything at your fingertips all rolls into one in this exclusive use property by the loch. Let our staff be as visible or as discreet as you wish in order to make Aldourie feel like your own home.Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness Food golfing holiday

Tip 3: Property ethos; the DIY approach or the all-inclusive?

Say you’ve opted for the exclusive use type of stay, there are still more decisions you have to make to ensure you book the best golfing holiday in Scotland for you and your group. Some guests like to feel free from the moment they step foot through the door and be left to their own devices for the duration of their stay. At Aldourie Castle our hospitality team can be as much or as little involved in your group stay in Scotland as you wish.

Some exclusive use properties will want to be at your beck and call from a butler service to ringing the dinner gong at 6pm. Others, despite their origins as hosts of royal celebrations and celebrity parties back in the day, take a more laid back approach when it comes to luxury holidays in the 21st Century. In essence, make sure you get a feel for the ethos of the private hire property to ensure you get the most out of your exclusive use experience.

The ethos of Aldourie Castle is its dedication to make our guests feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Take this Castle over as your own home and respect it as you would your own home and it will become yours for the length of your stay. We offer unrestricted access to Aldourie Estate; grounds with enough variety and scenery to entertain and interest all guests. The added luxury of Aldourie is its location – in a place like Loch Ness you will never be bored.ALDOURIE castle loch ness golfing holiday

We can organise activities to vary your golfing stay. Whilst you are not golfing off the Estate why not take a stroll along Dores Beach or catch a boat from Aldourie’s private pier and marina? Explore the 500 acre Aldourie Estate on foot, stopping at the pretty gardens, or take a Segway ride across the parkland.

The dedicated hospitality team at this exclusive use Castle can even arrange transport to your chosen golf resorts or clubs at any time of the day or evening. Should you prefer to make your own way to the golf courses during your golfing break in Scotland you are entirely at liberty to arrange this and anything else. That is the beauty of a private hire property in Scotland; you really are as free as the wildest Highland hills.


Activities on Loch Ness Part 1: From family fun to some alone time

What’s so special about Loch Ness? The lure of water itself, the freedom of its restless current? Or could it be its transient beauty? It’s a place where not one moment will ever be the same. Loch Ness is always on the move ready to embrace its next adventure, yet it retains a stillness that can calm troubled or wandering minds. Holiday on Loch Ness and feel your stresses float away. If you read on you will find out that there are many ways to achieve this other than meditating on a raft. Though, we could definitely arrange that for you.Aldourie Castle estate view over Loch Ness Activities on Loch Ness

You could be part of a family reunion, a multi-generational holiday party, or a group of friends sharing the same interests such as golf, cycling or walking. Or simply wanting to go it alone and hire a Castle on Loch Ness for the inspiration to write your novel, complete your portfolio of landscape paintings or take some time out from a hectic work schedule. Whatever your reasons for coming to stay here in a beautiful Castle on the shoreline of the majestic Loch Ness, the great Scottish outdoors beholds something for everyone.

Take a look; it’s a simple picture and yet the opportunities for fun, experience and adventure are endless. We just advise that you pack your imagination when coming to stay at Aldourie but should there simply not be enough room in your suitcase our creative hospitality team will always be on hand to recommend a host of activities.

Families: ensure your exclusive use holiday includes quality time

There are many reasons why a family would choose to visit the famous Loch Ness with all its diversions and areas of interest, its history and mesmerising beauty. Not to mention the excitement for children visiting the home of folklore celebrity, Nessie the Loch Ness Monster. After a leisurely morning taking breakfast at the Castle during your exclusive use stay with us let Aldourie’s team book you a cruise on Loch Ness that will take you up close to some of the Scottish Highlands most historic, cultural and wondrous landmarks.Jacobite cruises loch ness-1 Activities on Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle is a must-see during your family trip on Loch Ness. Take your boat for up to 12 people from the private Aldourie pier on the exclusive Highlands Estate and spend a couple of hours admiring the views, learning Scotland’s most fascinating history and enjoy a spot of lunch en route.

Venture forth and stop off at the Moray Firth, one of the most important places on the U.K. coast for observing dolphins and whales. Given a nod to its scenic brilliance the coastline has been voted one of the most picturesque by National Geographic. With direct tours available from Inverness just a few miles down the road from Aldourie Castle, don’t miss out on a family experience in Scotland that will leave you speechless and clutching the camera in order to capture the next incredible sighting. The most common species are the Bottlenose Dolphin and the Harbour Porpoise with occasional sightings of Common dolphin and Minke Whale.

Friends: do something different for years of reminiscing

When groups of friends come to stay at Aldourie in the stunning Scottish Highland landscape they not only marvel at the views from their luxurious bedrooms and get swept away by the fresh air taking tea on the terrace. Friends holidaying in Scotland want to get involved in their surroundings and experience something together that will make for lasting memories. The Nessie Hunter is definitely a trip on Loch Ness we highly recommend to any group stay at the private Scottish Castle. Be led astray by the expert hunters on your personal speed boat and follow the lure of the waves to try to catch a glimpse of the iconic Monster. Be part of Aldourie’s fairytale and let your imagination take you into the heart of Loch Ness.The Deborah Leah Cruise Activities on Loch Ness

If during the week your group is hoping for something a little more relaxed, you can take a rowing boat from the Aldourie marina (the hospitality team at the Castle will be happy to arrange this for you) and wade out in smaller groups from the private pier on the Highland Estate. Experience Loch Ness and its many scenes from the comfort and joy or your own personal space and take in the hilly surroundings in your own good time.

We’ll let all this information on Loch Ness sink in whilst you take time to plan your next family holiday or group stay with friends in the Scottish Highlands until Aldourie’s next blog post. This second instalment will feature even more fun activities to experience on the most famous stretch of water in the world.


What lies within; Aldourie grounds and gardens uncovered

Garden Bedroom inside Aldourie Castle seems to hint at the outdoor enchantment of this exclusive use rental property on the shores of Loch Ness. Its pastel coloured walls are peppered with delicate floral pattern camouflaging the hidden door to an adjoining daffodil-yellow bathroom, itself laden with nostalgic prints of the ethereal Scottish Highlands. Above a grand mahogany four poster bed cascades rich green fabric and the windows opposite tease guests with picture perfect views over neat lawns, ancient bridges and wild forests.luxury group accommodation Scotland - Aldourie grounds

Introducing the secret gardens of Aldourie: woodland walks, adventures in the arboretum, green houses brimming with life, lush orchards, fresh herb gardens and more…

Greenhouses for the green fingered
The greenhouses at Aldourie have long since been part of the private Castle’s charm and have stood in the vast clearing behind the dense arboretum for over a century. The past year has seen a lot of hard work by the Aldourie Estate’s gardeners go into the redesign and reconstruction of the greenhouses to better show off their shimmering glass panes and reveal the colourful treasures within.

At the end of summer 2016 Aldourie Castle’s private guests will be free to wander across and pick their own goodies from the greenhouses to enjoy back inside the luxurious Castle. In the kitchen Aldourie’s personal chef will whip up something delicious to bring in the new season and the Castle can celebrate its reconciliation with the Estate in using own-grown produce to feed its guests.

Fairytale woodland ignites imaginations
The enchanting woodland on the Aldourie Estate is a labyrinth of paths and clearings housing an abundance of wildlife varied enough to represent the whole of the Scottish Highlands.Aldourie woodland exclusive use stay Aldourie grounds

The 500 acre Estate is made up of part woodland and part parkland so you can imagine how much green there might be in and around the exclusive Castle’s grounds. Children enjoy their land of make believe exploring the woodland; making their own Easter trails and finding Santa’s Grotto at Christmastime. Just as much, adults love the romantic walks and catching a glimpse of deer playing in the moonlight on summer evenings.

Herb garden gives taste to Castle menu
It’s not only the home grown salad that will be causing a stir in the Aldourie kitchen. Our keen gardeners have been working on the formal gardens making a specific area dedicated to a variety of herbs. These will eventually be hand-picked by our chefs on a daily basis to help flavour the already delicious dishes made for the Castle’s exclusive use guests. The pretty patch is already underway and brimming with possibilities. The hospitality team at Aldourie look forward to its official launch when the private hire property in Scotland can state that it uses herbs cut fresh from its gardens to flavour each and every dish on its menu. Just another way in which the Highlands Estate gives back to the Castle and its loyal guests.fish dish luxury exclusive use scotland - Aldourie grounds

Arboretum has endless adventure
Filled with trees of every kind the Aldourie arboretum is a haven for adventure, freedom and fun. A nature lover’s paradise it houses surprises at every turn (we won’t tell you all of them as they won’t be a secret, then) and wondrous playful elements such as the majestic tree house on what could easily be the tallest stilts in Scotland. Discover the secrets of Loch Ness from your personal hiding place and then clamber down to find the novelty Nessie made out of a fallen tree trunk.

Mini orchard; a little piece of serenity
A year ago the gardeners at Aldourie decided to create a little piece of sanctuary in the form of a cluster of fruit trees; a mini orchard on a sprawling country estate. Not only it a beautiful place to perch oneself with a good book it’s also yet another area of the private hire property’s grounds which is laden with fresh food. Guests can grab a bite to eat en route to the ancient arboretum or take back a basket full to the kitchen and request a dessert of their choice. Dotted with snow drops in winter and blue bells in the warmer months the mini orchard paints a colourful picture in these endlessly enchanting Scottish grounds.Aldourie Castle Scotland parkland Aldourie grounds

So the next time you pass a large manor house, stately home, great hall, or even a terracotta Castle with real turrets, sitting serenely in the middle of its private Estate, think of all the possible secrets those grounds could hold and what enjoyment and freedom acres and acres of land can provide not just for those who once lived amongst it but for the people of today who arrive for a luxury holiday, a friendly visit or simply to explore all the beauty that the Scottish Highlands’ back yard has to offer.


Historic Aldourie Castle past and present – in pictures

Grand Designs
We were amazed at the similarities in these two pictures taken over one hundred years apart; but as its main reinvention was carried out prior to Aldourie becoming a Castle i.e. from a mansion house to a castle the exterior’s form remains pretty much the same today.Aldourie Castle historic property Historic Aldourie Castle

Notice how the shape of the historic Scottish Highlands property remains although certain features have been given a face lift, such as (although not so obvious in a black and white photo) the paint colour of the Castle turned cream along with the terracotta tones of the main turret wall. Also added was the hedging on the newly created sun terrace.Horse Drawn Carriage Aldourie Castle - Historic Aldourie Castle

Aldourie Castle is now clean shaven with no hint of the once ivy-clad walls – (in their place a few very subtly placed drainpipes, but we won’t dwell on those) – on the now 5 star luxury private hire property.

The same trees, as ever, still stand proud; in one photo wintry skeletons, the other boasting the lush leaves of summer. Architectural design has always been well thought out; see how there are more windows than wall in order to appreciate the enchanting views of Loch Ness that has long reflected Aldourie Castle and will continue to do so for hundreds of years to come.unique weddings Aldourie Castle golf buggy - Historic Aldourie Castle

Transport for guests
We love the differences displayed in these two images of guests arriving at Aldourie Castle; the lady of the house, a friend or perhaps a nanny come to take care of the children trots up by horse and cart riding herself, stopping just outside the Castle door while the bride-to-be is chauffeured, speeding along in a golf buggy, by the Best Man through the ever enchanting woodland of the Scottish Highlands Castle overlooking Loch Ness. The latter, we find, is a great way to get around the 500 acre Estate especially when pressed for time. It’s very nifty.Historic garden party Aldourie Castle - Historic Aldourie Castle

We appreciate the effort in attire too; of course one would be expected to dress up on one’s Wedding Day but a huge fancy hat with a bow simply in the name of popping in for a cup of tea is something to be admired.

Garden Party on Loch Ness
This photo we know was taken of Aldourie Castle in 1897 and the colour image just a couple of years ago. It’s wonderful to see how little the Castle has changed from the outside. A garden party of yesteryear looked pretty much the same as an outside celebration or family party would today in that the lawn facing Loch Ness is used to its full advantage and made a feature of with props.marquee wedding Aldourie Castle Estate - Historic Aldourie Castle

Bunting was used for the Jubilee celebrations of the 19th Century and ironically nowadays bunting is back in fashion for outside or garden party style events such as weddings and birthday parties, both of which are often held at Aldourie Castle.

Nice to see the grounds were then kept trim and pretty for such an occasion and that the idea of the garden party has not lost its appeal over the many decades and in fact has actually become a very fashionable way to celebrate large events in the 21st Century.

A fashionable set of wheels
One of Aldourie’s first cars; what a striking motor that was! Compare it to the types of vehicles that pull up outside the Castle door today; corporate hospitality events and car product launches see brightly coloured metal heading down the drive at a speed only these characterful drivers (photo 1) could dream of.old fashioned car Aldourie Castle Estate Historic Aldourie Castle

Today’s use of Aldourie Castle, although a luxury home for the holidays, is still a private hire property and therefore not an actual home for one family seven days a week. As a result this Loch Ness Castle in the Scottish Highlands witnesses the arrival and departures of dozens more cars nowadays – and not least because there are many more on the roads.

What must it have been like in days gone by at Aldourie? Originally a house party property in Scotland’s majestic Highlands (and way before that a large house with land frequented by many a Highland clan), this imposing Castle has seen the future unfold before its very eyes and inventions such as the motor car travel and change through time.car launch Aldourie Castle private corporate venue scotland Historic Aldourie Castle

Our historic photo archive depicts residents on the Estate; nannies, children, dogs (look out on our social media pages as we post these regularly) and there is a sense of calm and tranquillity in these images that, even in the day when grand estates held house parties every week, presided over the entire Castle and grounds. Was this due to fewer cars? Did peacefulness exist more in simpler times? If only these Castle walls could talk…

The wonderful thing about Aldourie, however, is that it is peaceful here every day; guests book to take exclusive use of older properties with acres of land for this reason alone, bright red Ferrari parked outside or not.historic Aldourie Estate Scotland Historic Aldourie Castle

Castle pets
Here we have a picture of what looks like the Aldourie Estate grounds being used as a pit stop for some cowboys or a ranch. Either way, the Castle makes a great backdrop to the horses and the image shows just how versatile these 500 acre grounds next to Loch Ness can be (nowadays we hold falconry days, archery lessons and Segway rides in front of the exclusive use property).Loch Ness Lizzie Aldourie Castle grounds Historic Aldourie Castle

The more modern looking photo stars Aldourie’s very own beautiful retriever, aka Loch Ness Lizzie. Our loyal canine friend regularly keeps a beady eye out on the Estate for long lost clan members and likes to befriend the many families and parties of guests who come to stay at Aldourie. And of course it goes without saying that she particularly favours other dogs who visit with their owners for short breaks in the four holiday cottages on Loch Ness.