Highland Glamping – without the tent!

The days are heating up and rain is still interfering with heavy showers whenever it feels like it. Perfect festival weather, wouldn’t you think? Not quite yet, give it a month and we’ll be there. But whilst you’ve got camping, lounging days and chilled out evenings on the mind what better time to contemplate your next country break?

Ever thought about escaping with a group of friends to the Scottish Highlands for your summer vacation? Honestly, it may be more glamorous than you think, especially if you book a luxury cottage break on the shores of Loch Ness: it’s just like glamping but you only have to bring yourselves, leaving more room in the car for necessary supplies of shortbread and whisky.

Glamping Blog - Highland Glamping

Cottage retreats in the heart of Scotland’s forests

Who needs a field of dried out flattened grass when you can have an English (or Scottish) country garden? Pretty gardens full of wild flowers at all times of the year surround each of the four holiday cottages on the 500 acre Aldourie Castle Estate. Stay at Garden Cottage for a glamorous and sweetly scented girls’ holiday for your group of friends. This idyllic retreat can be found tucked away behind the greenhouses on the beautiful lakeside grounds.

Just a stone’s throw from the Loch, you could be waking up to the finest window views you’ve ever dreamed of. And all from the luxury of a cosy cottage bedroom featuring a super-king sized bed. Yes, we are serious. No need to glamp it up out of doors to enjoy the succulent Scottish scenery – simply roll back long luscious curtains at Pier Cottage, grab a morning latte from the funky coffee machine, sit back against goose feather pillows and soak up the view. Who says roughing it has to be hard?tree house - Highland Glamping

Privacy, luxury and claims to fame

Staying within the exclusive Castle grounds of this distinguished Highlands country sporting Estate, you as holiday cottage guests have use of Aldourie’s private pier which juts out onto famous Loch Ness. The striking views across the lake take in miles of shimmering waters contrasted with huge colourful mountainous hills, altogether making a dramatic landscape.

This is your window view for the week and reward for choosing the most sophisticated of glamping holidays. Take the dog for an adventure (and even a swim!), dangle your feet in the water in the heat of the day or go for a romantic stroll on the pier in the moonlight. Many celebrities have stayed at Aldourie Castle over recent years; the magic of Loch Ness has lured them back again and again.

Wild swimming in your own back yard

If you really want to embrace Scotland’s nature, get even closer to it with a boat ride past the magnificent Castle. Boats rides can be accessed from nearby towns and venture into the heart of Loch Ness, cruising past Aldourie marina taking in some incredible sights and breath-taking scenery.

Jacobite cruises loch ness - Highland Glamping

To completely submerge yourself in Highland wilderness then wake up as the Scottish locals do and take a peaceful morning swim in Loch Ness. From Highlands holiday retreat Ivy Cottage on the edge of the Estate wander up the tranquil track to the Castle’s parkland, take a left and head to the beach. Then enjoy a hearty Scottish breakfast back in the luxury of your wild cottage garden.

Peaceful days and cosy nights

Whether you have previously enjoyed camping with friends, family or as a couple, it may be time for a change. To really understand the tranquillity of the Scottish Highlands you must experience it first-hand. And sooner rather than later – then you have more time to continue returning to this stunning and enchanting part of the world. Remember Scotland was voted the most incredible place to visit in 2014?

Take a Scottish break with a difference: pack a delicious picnic lunch full of your favourite Scottish treats, along with a bottle of bubbly, some local ale or good wine. Set up camp down at Dores Beach, just a few steps from Gate Lodge, and take in the sunset with a burning campfire and good conversation with great friends. Occasionally, stretch your legs with a romantic walk along the beach and see if you can spot the turrets of Aldourie Castle. Now, wouldn’t that bring the magic into your unique glamping holiday in Scotland?


A cottage holiday on Loch Ness: Part 2

Welcome to the second part of our Pier Cottage guests’ holiday blog. Read Part 1 of their Scottish Highlands holiday cottage adventures and discover your own Loch Ness experience.

Exploring Loch Ness

On the second morning waking up to a stunning view of Loch Ness we were compelled to experience in more depth the most famous expanse of water in the world. We drove to Fort Augustus, our starting point, via the scenic route so as to take in the spectacular and majestic sights of the Highland hills towering over lakes and forests. This was not without its own set of events, however. Just ten minutes from our destination we came to an abrupt halt; the strong winds that had taken Scotland by storm (pardon the pun) over the past few weeks had resulted in thousands of tall trees being lifted from their roots and strewn across forest floors, woodland and even roads. One absolutely huge tree seemed strategically placed across the B road we were travelling on stopping any major access. Although the van on the other side of its path was forced by logistics to turn around we decided there was just enough room to drive underneath the felled tree, and we were soon on our way again after taking some photos of this unusual sight.

trees A cottage holiday

Once at Fort Augustus we realised that March was a quieter time for tourists and we looked forward to a peaceful trip on the cruise boat, Nessie Hunter, to take in the wonders of Loch Ness. It just so happened a coach load of tourists turned up for the 1pm ride and we were part of a crowded but highly enjoyable boat cruise led by an expert team, who kept reminding us not to feed Nessie!

After an hour of high winds, fresh air and a good old traditional hunt for the Loch Ness Monster we ticked off another exhilarating experience in the Scottish Highlands. A boat ride on Loch Ness certainly works up an appetite so an exceptionally tasty sandwich lunch by fireside at cosy Lochside Inn was most welcome and it prepared us for a serene but steep three hour walk in the Fort Augustus hills.

Later, entering the Aldourie Estate by moonlight, we spotted three Roe deer playing in Pier Cottage garden, a wonderful sight for tired eyes and an almost magical moment as they scampered off into the trees as we approached. The warmly lit country kitchen was a welcoming tonic from the cool air outside so we settled in for the night reminiscing and planning over a romantic candlelit dinner.

A cottage holiday boat

A day of culture

Another day of activities ahead, after a hearty breakfast we set off to visit the historic Fort George, a large 18th Century fortress near Ardersier to the north-east of Inverness. Fort George is still in use today as army barracks and a popular visitor attraction of the Scottish Highlands. We parked up at the Fort, just across the road from the shoreline, with the roaring tides even late morning crashing up the stone walls below. This wind was incredible! We enjoyed a few hours here experiencing the recreations and exhibits before heading to Glen Ord Distillery for a whisky tour and a few tastes of the Highlands’ famous malt.

So, we travelled to the west of the Black Isle through bracing winds but with a beautiful blue sky above. The tour was interesting, starting in the visitor centre then heading in and out of large spaces to see the distilling process step by step; we had been on two whisky tours before but Glen Ord was the most insightful; the tour even taught us about cooperage, the making of the whisky barrels, and the profession of a cooper. After the detailed tour we had a whisky tasting of a 12, a 15 and 18 year old whiskies, which warmed our cockles and sent us on our way to our final destination, Beauly.

Beauly, meaning “beautiful place” is a Scottish town in Inverness-shire. It’s quite a small town but perfectly formed and there we enjoyed a delicious deli coffee and a walk around the picturesque Beauly Priory ruins.  Later that evening, it was back to Dores Inn for a fish dinner and some local beer.

A cottage holiday

At one with nature

On our final morning we took Aldourie Castle’s pet dog, Loch Ness Lizzie, for a walk in the Castle grounds. Lizzie leading the way we explored the Estate more thoroughly, starting in the forest-thick arboretum she climbed up the treehouse, swam in Loch Ness and showed us the family graveyard. We then ran across the parkland to the marina and back to the greenhouses where Sarah the gardener was hard at work putting into place plans to create a new look for the gardens. From fruit trees to rose arches and topiary lined paths to tending clusters of snow drops and developing a mini orchard, there were big plans afoot for Aldourie’s gardens. Lizzie tried to help but really only managed to make a mess. Sarah, patting her gently, was evidently used to her regular (possibly daily) contributing efforts in the garden and seemed unfazed by the soil that came flying her way as Loch Ness Lizzie tried to bury her stick.

We spotted Garden Cottage peeking through the trees and as we walked back to our own private Highlands hideaway to get ready to go home we passed Gate Lodge on the corner, which had an impressive view of Aldourie Castle in all its glory. We hoped the guests staying in each had enjoyed as wonderful a holiday in the Scottish Highlands as we had and experienced their own Aldourie cottage adventure.

 

 


A cottage holiday on Loch Ness

We recently had some guests to stay at Pier Cottage, one of the four gorgeous holiday rental cottages we have cocooned in the lush green Highland Estate. Each of our cottages is different from the next and each a popular choice for wilderness holiday retreats and pure escapism for those wanting a break from their busy lives. But this spring it’s the aptly named Pier Cottage that has woven its magic into the lives of our holidaymakers so much as to incline them to write in-depth about their stay.

The journey to bonny Scotland…

Grabbing some croissants from the Coop and a takeaway coffee for the journey, it felt like a road trip already. Our destination? Aldourie Castle Estate, near Inverness in Scotland featuring an impressive exclusive hire property that people can take over as their own home for house parties. However, our precise destination was in fact one of the somewhat quainter and simpler holiday cottages on the Scottish Highland grounds. We had holidayed in the UK before but never stayed in a holiday cottage, always a hotel or B&B, so it was really exciting to be doing something different. Because the weather was on our side – blues skies, gorgeous sunshine and rather warm for March – the time just flew by. We stopped near Perth for lunch and another coffee in a diner with friendly staff and big portions. Being Yorkshire-bred, this was most appreciated.

Arriving at the Aldourie Castle Estate gates a few hours later, we turned into the almost hidden driveway with old wrought iron gates hinged off stone pillars covered with wintry ivy; the moment we passed through the gateway it was like stepping back in time. The drive was winding and secretive but as it wasn’t yet dark we were able to see the terracotta turrets of the enchanting Castle through the trees as we wove down past the thick woodland and into a clearing. The parkland was immaculate, lush green and dotted with trees of every kind. We turned the car left past some old farm sheds and onto a narrower, dirt track. This is when it got really exciting: the woodland became thick with trees once again and the afternoon sun was shining through which eventually revealed a cream-coloured bungalow cottage to the right complete with timbre-framed windows and a long porch leading to the front door. Parking up at the side of the cottage, we jumped out and ran down the slope that led to the shoreline of Loch Ness, literally metres away. We stopped immediately; it was flooded. Scotland had seen so much rain over the past few weeks that the Loch was at least 6 feet higher than usual, we later found out from the Castle grounds man that it was the highest it had been in over 10 years.

Aldourie Castle, A cottage holiday on Loch Ness

As we unpacked the car we were desperate to see inside. We had seen photos on the website but these did not prepare us for the real ‘wow’ factor that we experienced as we stepped through the door. Pier Cottage was huge and beautifully presented. Beyond the inner porch there was a large kitchen with an island in the middle, where the hob was, surrounded by a breakfast bar and stools. We love cooking so this was another joy to behold. From the kitchen came the gorgeous little dining room with French windows that in the summer months could open out onto the garden, which surrounded the Loch Ness cottage on all four sides. Beyond this was the huge lounge furnished with an antique writing desk, cosy sofas and, of course, a wood burning stove that no holiday cottage in the Scottish Highlands should be without. There were windows everywhere letting the sun shine in, which bounced off the stunning Loch Ness waters showing the famous lake off to its utmost. It was serene and beautiful, and the most exquisite window view we’d ever experienced. To top it off, in the window bay lay a table with chairs – needless to say this was our lunchtime retreat for four days.

Like any holidaymakers, we spent time exploring every room, wandering from one space to another, which were all seamlessly linked through numerous windowed doors. This made the whole holiday cottage feel light and airy and it had a freedom about it that mirrored that of the Highland hills which were our constant backdrop. Once the groundsman, Hugh, had made sure we were settled in, showing us how the heating and facilities worked, we set off to the local supermarket to stock up on food and drink for our first holiday in Scotland. We returned, then a bit weary from the journey but ready to cook something delicious and warm. Now that the sun had set it was time for getting the fire started, enjoying a glass of wine and curling up with a good film before retiring to our superking-sized bed for dreams of snow-topped Highland hills and fairytale castles. 45. Aldourie Castle - Four in Hand Roof

Day 1: Settling into cottage life

After the essential first day of the holiday lie-in in our amazingly comfy bed, we enjoyed breakfast and coffee (expertly made by one of the kitchen’s many gadgets, a beautiful shiny expresso machine) whilst sat comfortably at the window bay looking out at the calm, though still very high, Loch Ness. The sparkling water seemed to beckon us forth and we later found out at the Dores Inn pub that many people do swim in the Loch as part of their everyday early morning exercise routine. Pretty cold but how invigorating: imagine waking up to a view of the Scottish Highland hills every morning and then going for a quick swim in Loch Ness. Aldourie Castle Estate has its own private marina and pier on Loch Ness, which guests can see from any one of the holiday cottage’s back windows. The pier on Monday moning was just starting to show (it had previously been hidden under the water) so we planned a walk round the surrounding woodland to take in that and other unusual features this special place in Scotland had to offer.

Exploring the woods on the 500 acre Estate was fun. Spotting the different birds of prey just metres from the holiday cottage garden made us feel at one with nature and wildlife and we started to imagine what it must be like to live here; a Little Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretyl house hidden in a copse of trees. Thankfully, Aldourie woodland has deer instead of wolves and the many dogs that are walked here keep the witches at bay!  Walking to Aldourie’s private pier we meet a few local dog-walkers who are used to wandering around the beautiful and varied Highlands Estate weekly, if not daily, and who are glad to give us some day trip ideas near Inverness even though the Aldourie welcome pack details some great places to see and things to do in the local area and further afield. A few touristy photos on the pier with the Highland hills backdrop and we’re ready to head to the Castle where Lavinia, the General Manager, has kindly left out some bikes for us to explore the Estate at higher speed.
Aldourie Castle, loch ness A cottage holiday on Loch NessThat evening we ate at the locally famous Dores Inn, which, on a warm summer’s evening when the light allows, is just a half hour walk from Pier Cottage. We resolved to walk there at least once but for this first time we took advantage of the complimentary shuttle service there and back, generously offered by the Inn’s new owner to guests staying at Aldourie Cottages no matter what time of year. The food at Dores Inn was delicious and we enjoyed a peaceful evening at the first Scottish restaurant of our holiday.

Experience more of this Scottish Highlands holiday in PART 2 of the blog


Enjoy a Stay in Loch Ness – Without Hunting Nessie

It’s famous – or infamous, depending upon your perspective – across the world. The legendary monster has been the subject of news scandals, films, books and television dramas but with all this attention, it is Loch Ness itself that has become the hidden treasure. Nessie is ubiquitous whenever the Loch is mentioned, and that has led to many of the features of this beautiful place being overlooked.

There’s so much on offer for short breaks in Loch Ness besides monster hunting so we decided to present a guide to enjoying a holiday cottage stay in Loch Ness – without getting involved in all that monster business!

Aldourie Castle Loch Ness Monster Hunting Nessie

Here are five things to do in Loch Ness without going Nessie hunting.

Continue reading…


ALDOURIE PROMOTION! Cycling Stays at Loch Ness Holiday Cottages

Aldourie Special Promotion

Get away for the weekend with Etape Loch Ness and cycle around the stunning surrounding landscape. Then return home to a cosy Scottish cottage for a relaxing evening. For unrivalled scenery along traffic free roads, Etape offers a closed road 67-mile / 107-km route for keen professional or amateur cyclists.

Aldourie Castle Estate also features four traditional self-catering Loch Ness holiday cottages. All have fabulous scenic views and lush surroundings. Placed around the 500 acre parkland the cottages offer 2 and 3 bedroom accommodation for couples, families not to mention group stays.  Our special holiday promotion is available from the 4th May 2014 for long weekend breaks at £500 per cottage.

Ivy Cottage - exterior Loch Ness Holiday Cottages

Please click here for details, floor plans and images for Aldourie’s Holiday Cottages and book through our contact page.