Discover unique Scottish Highlands wildlife during an exclusive use castle stay

Wildlife bathroom, decorated in an artist’s drawings depicting the variety of animal life guests may spot on the Estate at Aldourie Castle, is just another example of the uniqueness of this Scottish Highlands, private hire property. An exclusive use castle stay at Aldourie certainly brings you closer to Scottish wildlife; from its walled kitchen garden abundant in insects busying themselves from flower to flower; to the arboretum, a sanctuary for birds and red squirrel; to striding through long grass across wide, open parkland where you quietly seek out rabbits and deer in their private habitats.

Take a woodland walk and follow the line of flight of a bird of prey soaring high above the tall trees. During a private stay on the shores of Loch Ness you may sight some more unusual wildlife such as the cuckoo or the pine marten. Roe deer are such gentle, beautiful creatures who bring calm and instant joy to the watcher. Through Aldourie’s commitment to conservation we shall encourage wildlife to thrive on this Highlands Estate for generations to come.exclusive use castle stay

Nonetheless, private castle guests are encouraged to venture further afield in order to truly experience Scotland’s amazing and wonderful wildlife in a variety of landscapes. From woodland walks to mountain peaks, here’s where you may spot your favourite animals.

See the almighty Sea Eagle on the western coast

The sea eagle is the largest bird of prey in the UK and the fourth largest in the world. It was hunted to extinction in Scotland until the 1970s when a Norwegian breeding pair were released on the Isle of Rum. Since then, the white-tail or sea eagle has thankfully firmly re-established itself in the country. The Isle of Skye, Mull and Rum are generally regarded as the best places to spot a sea eagle, but because of their huge range (which can span up to 2.5 metres and their height to 1 metre) they can actually be spotted anywhere along Scotland’s western coasts and beyond. Sea eagles will take small rabbits, seabirds and fish but are generally scavengers. They are easily distinguished from other birds of prey by their huge wing span, their white tail and pale head. They also have broad, rectangular shaped wings and a wedge-shaped tail.

Stay local for the tree-dwelling Pine martenexclusive use castle stay

This tiny forest-found mammal is now find right across the Highlands so during your exclusive use castle stay you don’t have to travel far for the mainly nocturnal pine marten. Just opt for the coniferous and mixed woodland trails north of Inverness and Aldourie. But wait till the late, light summer nights when they’re likely to be out hunting. Red squirrels are their choice of prey but they are again scavengers and can be found raiding bins and garden treats left for birds! If you want to go further afield, the pinewoods of Strathspey and parts of the Black Isle are also scenic hot spots for the pine marten.

The pine marten is part of the otter and badger family featuring a dark brown coat and a bushy tail. Perhaps it’s best recognised by its unique bib pattern that starts under its chin and reaches down its chest, coloured almost yellow to white. It has small dark eyes and large rounded like ears which give it a teddy-bear-like cuteness. The pine marten may stand upright on its haunches to get a better view, a bit like a meercat.exclusive use castle stay

Minke whales in the Moray Firth as summer hits

One of the most commonly spotted of our native whales (most UK sightings are in Scotland) minke whales are found right across the west coast, especially during May and June. They are one of the smallest of their species, between 8.5 and 9 metres long, and best seen in calm seas and sunshine. You may spot their breaching backs glistening under a hot sun.  Just like the legendary lochs against a mountainous Highlands backdrop, Minkes are a spectacular sight to behold. They frequently visit the small Isle of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna.

Minkes feed on fish, squid and krill. They often approach boats and can breach beside them as they breathe through their blowholes. A medium sized whale, the minke whale is defined by its sleekness and pointed head. It is dark grey to black in colour with white undersides and white patches behind its head.exclusive use castle stay

A symbol of Scotland, the peaceful deer

The deer is one of the most iconic of all Scotland’s mammals, depicting a beauty and innocence incomparable to any other species. You may spot deer, particularly the red variety, throughout the Highlands. They’re easily spotted on rough moorland and the edges of forests. Deer can also be found standing very still on Highland roads – be sure to look out for the reflection of their eyes to give you time to stop. In summer, male deer (stages) sport their newly-grown, velvet-covered antlers in anticipation of the autumn rut when they will battle to dominate the herd and the right to breed with the hinds (female deer).


Wonderful walking holiday cottages on Loch Ness

The inspiring, stunning and majestic Scottish Highlands landscape has enticed and captivated holidaymakers for years. Aldourie’s four unique holiday cottages on Loch Ness provide a luxury base from which to explore this delightful countryside and experience the real Scotland. Now seems the perfect time to tell you about some really fabulous walks, perfect in winter as any other season. So whether you decide to rent a castle for the weekend, or stay in a cosy cottage, leave your log burner, grab your woollies and get walking. We promise you miles of stunning white-laced landscape and fresh fir-scented air.

Luxury holiday cottages on Loch Ness

Each cottage has its own bespoke luxuries: Ivy’s four poster beds lie underneath dark wooden beams. Gate Lodge lets you admire Aldourie’s stunning parkland and just beyond, the Castle itself. Pier’s back door is literally a stone’s through from Loch Ness. And Garden Cottage overlooks the Estate’s historic but recently renovated walled garden. Or you can rent a castle for the weekend with the magnificent Aldourie Castle boasting views right across Loch Ness.

These perfect retreats allow you to relax and unwind after a busy day out and about. Chat about the day’s sights over a glass of vintage wine and cheese bought at a picturesque village farmer’s market. Sit yourself at the holiday cottage’s antique writing bureau and pen a postcard home from Aldourie Estate. Enjoy the surroundings of a traditionally decorated kitchen-diner as you gather the clan around the table for some relaxed home cooking.

Each of Aldourie’s holiday cottages on Loch Ness are available all year round. They offer a private, luxury base within easy reach of seasonal walks and sights. Explore either the simple, local trails on Aldourie Estate’s doorstep or jump in the car for a scenic drive to a legendary landscape.

Breath-taking walks around Fort William and Glen Nevis

The traditional town of Fort William lies an hour and forty minutes from Aldourie Estate’s holiday cottages on Loch Ness. Its stunning location at the heart of Lochaber and along the Highlands’ coastline justifies its nickname as the ‘Outdoor Capital’ of the UK.  It offers a mix of long-distance walking routes, mountain ascents or easier forest, woodland and canalside walks.

Fort William is most famous as being at the base of Ben Nevis, the highest peak of them all. The town is also the gateway to one of the most picturesque glens, Glen Nevis. The Glen leads along the foot of Ben Nevis and past the stunning ridges of the Mamores. It incorporates the dramatic Steall Falls – Scotland’s second highest waterfall with a drop of 120 metres.

Explore the varied terrain of Spean Bridge and Loch Ossian

Spean Bridge is even closer to Aldourie Estate’s holiday cottages on Loch Ness, under an hour and a half’s drive away. It enjoys an accessible position at the heart of the Highlands. The village lies at the foot of Glen Spean offering endless miles of eastward walks that eventually lead to the Cairngorms.

The area encompassing Loch Ossian features an array of different types of walks. Travel through mountain ranges of the Grey Corries, Easains and Creag Meagaidh group. Or tread the lonely Glen Roy deep into the mountains. A more relaxing route is discovering the wilds around Loch Ossian, inaccessible by car.

The challenging, historic Jacobite hills of Fort Augustus

When you rent a castle for the weekend or stay in one of four cottages on the shores of Loch Ness, the travelling time to Fort Augustus is under an hour. However, this is a strenuous linear route climbing 350m through remote countryside. Begin by ascending good tracks through forest and follow with a long section on open moorland. Afterwards, negotiate a series of muddy paths leading down to Glen Moriston.

This glen is a treasure trove of ancient Scotland. Fort Augustus used to be the site of a garrison built in an attempt to break the isolation of the Highlands and suppress the Jacobites following the uprising of 1715. It was taken by the Jacobite rebels just before the Battle of Culloden and the former abbey now marks the spot where the fort once stood. The walk features the legacy of General Wade, an old military road that helped form a network of roads that would connect garrisons across the country.

Lower level forest walking routes of Aviemore

The modern resort of Aviemore is the best known part of the Cairngorms National Park. It’s therefore one of the most popular areas of Scotland for those who rent a castle for the weekend or stay in a holiday cottage on the shores of Loch Ness.

Cairn Gorm itself is only the northernmost high summit on a vast, arctic plateau. This is the snowiest part of Britain; a fragile environment but providing a magnificent wild challenge for the fittest. The lower slopes are clothed with the magnificent Caledonian pinewoods of Rothiemurchus, dotted with jewel-like lochs such as Loch Morlich – with its sandy beach – and Loch an Eilein with its ruined island castle. Undoubtedly this is one of the finest areas of Scotland for easier, lower level forest walks. The wildlife-watching opportunities too are simply superlative; this is the stronghold of the Red Squirrel as well as the elusive Capercaillie, crested tits and Scottish crossbill.

Stay local at Loch Ness and Gen Affric

Loch Ness, with its legendary monster, is the most famous of all lochs; at twenty three miles long it is the second largest lake in Britain by area. Its great depth, however, means it holds several times more water than its nearest rival, Loch Lomond. The area around the Loch features a variety of walks near Aldourie’s holiday cottages on Loch Ness. This includes Waymarked Trails and easy routes suitable for families compared to some other parts of the Highlands.

There are great forest and moorland walks starting from various points along the north side of the Loch. The southern side has much less traffic and a delightful landscape of small hills, attractive woodland and a large number of small, freshwater lochs that are renown among fishermen but little known by the rest of the public.

Few can imagine the scope of walking available around Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands until they’ve experienced it for themselves. Aldourie walking holidays offer the ultimate outdoors getaway in Scotland. Our walking holiday cottages on Loch Ness combine luxury, history, culture and exercise – the best start to your year. Choose to rent a castle for the weekend or relax in the simplicity of a cottage and immerse yourself in all the local area of Loch Ness has to offer.


Before and after pictures: an exclusive use Castle on Loch Ness

Since 2017 we have made numerous substantial changes to Aldourie Castle both inside the property and out on the Estate. Aldourie has been part of the Wildland portfolio, placing conservation at the heart of running a working estate, for a few years now. All these renovations have made this exclusive use Castle on Loch Ness even more desirable. You may find that hard to believe – but here are the photographs to prove it.

Castle exterior befitting an historic property

Aldourie used to be a pale salmon/cream in colour but recently underwent a drastic renovation to reflect the aesthetic of a true period property of its day. This striking Castle on Loch Ness appeared even more spectacular in its new coat. As they say, it just goes to show what a lick of paint can do!


Luxury Exclusive Castle Holiday Scotland

Inside the Castle on Loch Ness

The Main Hall at Aldourie Castle is one of the interior spaces boasting the most drastic of transformations. It still has the large feasting table in its centre but now has more focus through a shrewd interior design. The light grey walls and dark drapes along with the imposing original fireplace and huge oil portraits give the room further definition and grandeur. This is important considering the ‘great hall’ of a manor house or castle is its main room. And it should, by modern standards of exclusive use properties at least, exude magnificence.

Take a look at the difference in tone and colour between these two photographs, and the effect it has on the mood of the Castle’s Main Hall.

Aldourie Castle Loch Ness

 

Aldourie Castle - main hall

One of the most loved public rooms of this welcoming Castle on Loch Ness is The Red Drawing Room. Not least because it features views over the loch from a most comfortable space.

In short, the drawing room has lost some of its ‘red’ with the anticipation of adding more warmth and calm to the large, varied space.

The Murano chandelier has now been replaced by a larger, even more opulent one and the main portrait wall was broken up by a large mirror above the fireplace, which reflects some of the ceiling’s white out into the room.

See how this subtle alteration to the furnishings achieves its desired effect.

Aldourie Castle Estate Gallery

 

The Laird’s Room is now a breakfast room of opulence, compared to its original masculine, almost medieval theme. This also is one of the most changed interiors.

Although previously favoured by most guests staying at the Castle for its cosiness and character, this new look gives the room versatility and an elegance it never had.

Panelled wooden walls were replaced and painted and a dado rail added. Heavy gothic-like wall lanterns were replaced with more delicate ones. Lastly, bright blue ornaments and fire surround helped lighten the look of this dark room.

These photos convey two distinct interiors with the same layout. A bit of glitz makes all the difference.

Aldourie Castle Loch Ness

Rent an entire scottish castle lairds room

Bedroom and bathroom transformations

Throughout the 13 luxury and individual character bedrooms in this Castle on Loch Ness there have been various recent restyles. Mackintosh, Lady Grey and Nursery Wing are amongst those that have been redecorated. The Old Kitchen, part of the latter, became a bathroom featuring beautiful pastel shades.

The space as it was is unrecognisable now since the four piece bathroom suite replaced wall units and white goods.

Nursery Bathroom is quickly becoming a favourite with exclusive use Castle guests for its calming green tones and peaceful aura. It’s so interesting to see the function of a space changed entirely.

Nursery-Kitchen

Exclusive Scottish Castle Vacations

The gardens and grounds have seen some changes too. Our next installment of this post shows the before, during and after pictures of the Castle Garden and the Walled Garden. We ave Margaret Soraya to thank for the beautiful photography shown above and in our next post.

If you are interested in hiring out Aldourie Castle on Loch Ness for your event or house party stay please contact the main office on 01463 751309.

 

 

 

 


Experience the Black Isle during an exclusive use stay in Scotland: Part 2 – food and drink

Our last blog post featured Part 1 of your exclusive use stay in Scotland incorporating a trip to the Black Isle. It focused on the history, culture and scenery that this majestic part of the Scottish Highlands offers the discerning tourist. This beautiful part of the world should definitely be a on the tick list for anyone visiting Scotland as a luxury travel destination.

From coastal walks to castle ruins and the quaint towns and villages in between, we showed you how to best enjoy the wonder of the Black Isle from your luxury holiday on Loch Ness. This week we’re introducing Part 2 of our post which focuses on the Black Isle’s dining and drinking scene. We pay particular attention to the tourist hot spot, The Black Isle Brewery. Hop on board for a taste of what’s on the menu in this remarkable and thriving peninsula in Scotland.

Dining out in the Black Isle

The Black Isle region spans from the village of North Kessock all the way up to the town of Cromarty. There are many haunts to sample good food and drink (we are in Scotland after all!). But here are just a few well selected cafes, bars and restaurants to delight during your exclusive use stay in Scotland.

A favourite amongst exclusive use Aldourie Castle guests:

Many of the Castle’s guests book a luxury multi-generational stay at Aldourie. Therefore, they are often looking for family-friendly places to eat when adventuring outside the five star property. The hotel based restaurant Chanterelle Kinkell  has just the right amount of everything you’d want from a dining venue. It has featured on many an itinerary of guests during their exclusive use stay at the Castle. And it’s not too far up from Inverness.

Aside from its name drawing in the crowds for its simple allure, Chanterelle Kinkell is a brand new restaurant. It offers dining throughout the day including lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Within a peaceful, stylish setting the restaurant provides a friendly atmosphere, well presented and delicious cuisine and a fine wine list, all alongside striking countryside views. What’s not to love?

Best places to eat for lunch in the Black Isle

Fortrose Café is a delightful place to stop off to have a tasty lunch if you’re travelling as a family. Conveniently placed on the high street it’s a high quality and friendly place to eat. It masterly combines a stylish, cosy atmosphere with great food. If you have little children with you during your exclusive use stay in Scotland, you can keep them entertained. The kids’ corner  is greatly appreciated while you sit back with a mug of freshly ground coffee. From cakes to light lunches and warming pies on a chilly spring day, you’ll find something for all your party. Dining here will set you on your way for an activity-fueled afternoon.

Aldourie also recommends Applecross Walled Garden not just for its charming location, which features beautiful flowers and wildlife. Whether you sit inside or out on the elegant garden chairs you can enjoy creatively prepared dishes, delectable afternoon teas and fruity homemade juices. Coupers Creek in Cromarty is a café-come-gift shop. Its nostalgic stripy tables perfectly complement the colourful Highlands gifts on sale. The tempting hot and cold sandwich menu also features traditional ice-cream sundaes and milkshakes.

Excellent seafood at the heart of the Black Isle

It depends what type of dining experience you prefer during your exclusive use stay in Scotland as to where we would recommend our guests book a table. Here we’ve selected a few seafood restaurants because in the Black Isle there’s nothing but water all around. Seafood is the speciality here so here are Aldourie’s top 3 seafood restaurants for exquisite food within a unique setting.

Sutor Creek in the historic town of Cromarty is famed for its wood-fired pizzas and tranquil harbour location. It is committed to serving locally sourced cuisine from the ‘Black Isle’s natural larder’. Dishes range from exceptional meats and vegetables to edible flowers and foraged mushrooms.

Looking to eat off the beaten track during your adventurous exclusive use stay in Scotland? Try SALT Seafood Kitchen in the heart of the long linear village of Achiltibuie, between Ross and Cromarty. This is a wonderfully Scottish-sounding restaurant in which to enjoy a true Scottish dish.

On the waterfront on the shores of Loch Carron sits Plockton Shores restaurant, a small friendly village eatery with heaps of local flavour. Enjoy a bowl of fresh mussels overlooking bobbing sailing boats, chirruping wildlife and the loch.

Beer drinking and dining at the Black Isle Bar

This famous tourist destination in the Highlands is a well-loved haunt for many exclusive use stay guests at Aldourie Castle. Predominantly a brewery specialising in world class organic beers brewed in the Highlands, it is also a stylish bar. The welcoming Black Isle Bar features all the Black Isle Brewery’s drinking produce. It also boasts a deliciously rustic food menu all produced from the on-site farm and other local organic suppliers. The tourist attraction is situated near Inverness as you approach the Black Isle. On your exclusive use stay in Scotland, you can either enjoy it going up to your destination or back down.

Why do exclusive use guests of Aldourie go there?

There are so many reasons why this place is such a popular tourist destination for those travelling to Scotland from overseas or the UK. The Brewery’s beer is its obvious pull – there’s nothing like grabbing a table here and rejoicing over a freshly pulled pint of craft beer and a wood-fired pizza and crisp salad. The perfect lunch. The popularity of the Black Isle Brewery could just as easily be its rags-to-riches start up story: unemployment led the determined David Gladwin to produce a world class beer in an environmentally-friendly way.  

Beer tasting at the Black Isle Brewery

What does the tour involve and what will you see and learn?

The Black Isle Brewery uses only the finest malt and hop grown on farms and without any chemicals, ‘just as nature intended’. It houses its own organic farm where it grow malting barley for brewing and even has a dedicated brewery house cow, who eats the malt from the brewery mash tun and in turn provides the brewery with 20 pints of fresh, creamy milk every day. On the tour you will venture outside to witness the brewery’s self-claimed ‘beautiful, unspoilt, unpolluted, wild, and more than a little bit wet, highland home’ that keeps its staff and owners very happy indeed.

Black Isle brews up to 10,000 litres of beer a day, which is then packaged in bottles, casks and kegs. It is later shipped all over Scotland, the UK and around the world from Sweden to Japan. The brewery makes a variety of beers including a wheat beer and a blonde ale. All the beers are organic and suitable for vegetarians, as they do not use isinglass in the brewing process.

Black Isle Brewery’s recommended beers for Aldourie guests during an exclusive use stay in Scotland:
Blonde
Goldfinch
L’ile Noire
Yellowhammer

As with any brewery or whisky distillery tour, there’s the opportunity to purchase what you’ve tasted as well as little trinkets and memorabilia perfect as Scottish Highlands gifts for back home or as a reminder of your exclusive use stay in Scotland. During the busy summer months tours run on average twice per hour. Please refer to the website for tour details and opening times: https://www.blackislebrewery.com/tours/

Now the entertainment and cuisine of the Black Isle has been catered for with this article we look forward to completing our Highlands tour with a look at some of the best towns and villages in the Black Isle. For more information on hiring our Aldourie Castle for an exclusive use stay on Loch Ness in Scotland please visit our ‘Contact’ page on the website.


‘Wow’ factor spaces for corporate events in an exclusive use castle

An exclusive Scottish castle in Scotland

This past year has seen some major renovations on Aldourie both inside and outside. Our last blog post looked at the big updates that have been made to the estate itself. This week we are focussing on the ‘new look’ of the castle exterior. Having undergone a true transformation, the public rooms inside the castle have also had a beautiful make over. These rooms are perfect for all types of luxury occasions; for a relaxing week away with the whole family or stunning weddings or corporate events in an exclusive use castle.

Castle exterior re-harl

We coated the exterior with a limewash harl, giving a whole new look to the exclusive use Castle. In Scottish terms harling describes an exterior building surface technique favoured for historic buildings. Limewash gives a long-lasting weatherproof shield for a stone building and offers a beautiful decorative finish. It was the ideal choice for Aldourie, a property that has stood for hundreds of years and has a wealth of heritage to its name. The most exclusive Scottish castle in Scotland is located in the midst of a 500 acre Highlands Estate. Therefore, it needs to be able to battle the forceful Scottish elements whilst still retaining elegance and beauty. The Castle has a duty to continue to ‘wow’ guests as they first spot it along the winding drive. Locations offering good first impressions; a great reason to host your corporate events in an exclusive use castle.corporate events in an exclusive use castle

Main Hall – the first public room

The main hall in Aldourie is a large, inviting space that is the central point to the downstairs of the Castle. Its main use is for meeting and greeting and a link between the main Castle doors and the rest of the public rooms. It’s a beautiful, light and airy space integral to the property with large glass doors leading out into the Castle Garden, now a stunning green landscaped area dotted with topiary trees. With a new view that only accentuates the further vista over Loch Ness’ southern shore, the happy room deserved a revamp. The main hall is the ideal space in which to welcome corporate events in an exclusive use castle.

The idea for the main hall was for a more natural, Highlands inspired look for a serene, welcoming space that still housed the essence of grandeur. The interior decorating team began by revitalising the walls, replacing the salmon hues with a blue-grey. The red tartan over-drapery was removed which fully showcased and lengthened the existing taupe coloured curtains making the windows appear even larger. A huge classical portrait was brought down from the corridor on the second floor and has been given a new perspective for the foreseeable future.corporate events in an exclusive use castle

Hidden historical gem

We discovered a striking old fireplace with the engravings of the Castle’s family heritage name ‘Frazer-Tyler’ depicted in the stone work underneath the existing, newer fireplace. The present owner and Castle hospitality team are delighted at the find. The fireplace, now larger, is much more of a feature, both historically and aesthetically. A large basket of wood sits just below the mantel ready to top up the blazing fire.

Lairds Room  – for an elegant Scottish breakfast

This was a brand new project which included removing the old dark wooden panelling from all the walls and letting taupe painted walls and fine cornice detail in ivory take its place. As a result, a calmer, more elegant looking room emerged, ideal for corporate events in an exclusive use castle. The new table and dozen chairs give the Lairds Room a more classical theme. A stunning theatrical gilded mirror framed by wall chandeliers highlights a Louis XVI-style fireplace below.

corporate events in an exclusive use castle

A huge tapestry hangs opposite and gives added texture to the cosy room. The Lairds room has always been a popular spot for guests, a smaller space than the dining room for entertaining. Since its renovation it has been mainly used as the breakfast room by exclusive use guests.

Library has a different focus

The warm, homely Library has fortunately not lost any of its rich decoration which still give it such depth and charm. The Aldourie Library has always been the go-to place for reading (of course), a game of cards with friends or a dram of whisky in the evening. With this in mind the large room is closed in slightly to make more of the existing space.corporate events in an exclusive use castle

Seated furniture now faces inwards over a low coffee table and as a result encourages gentle conversation and relaxation. The green settee is now one of powder blue which varies the colour theme in the room and add warmth. The large space now has more clearly defined areas including the writing desk facing the bookshelves for privacy.

Drawing Room retains character with more colour

Originally the Red Drawing Room, this versatile open space now features less of the red and gold it was so famed for.  By taking away some of the red fabric furniture, the ruby rich velvet walls framed by a gilded corniche are now a feature of its own. Now sit armchairs in greens and blues, lighter wooden furnishings and tall elegant candelabras atop the mantelpiece. A new large glistening chandelier also hangs over the central area.corporate events in an exclusive use castle

The result is a more open, airy space that still retains an informal grace. Exclusive use guests have always known the Drawing Room to be the hub of the Castle. They love its ability to be both cosy and opulent as well as its breath-taking views.  These subtle layout changes have revitalised this much-loved room and added to the title of Aldourie as “the” most exclusive Scottish castle in Scotland.

If you would like to book any of your company corporate events in an exclusive use Castle in Scotland then why not give us a call? Alternatively, leave a message on our easy to use online form where we will get back to you to discuss your needs.


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.

Exclusive Use Holidays - Applecross Peninsula Scotland

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.

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 Ardarroch, 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.Exclusive Use Holidays - Toward 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.


Private anniversary celebrations with family and friends – in a Castle far, far away

Keep the romance alive whilst throwing the party you’ve always dreamed of. Aldourie Castle is brimming with secret stairways and cosy corners for the perfect anniversary retreat, with a twist…

Your Ruby wedding anniversary was a different story; a quiet country hotel with just a few rooms, each taken by different couples most likely away on their own anniversaries. Anonymous yet intimate, but sort of passé, don’t you think? So, now that it’s your Golden anniversary, instead of staying in a beautiful setting full of strangers, why not create your unique paradise in an exclusive use property with those closest to you. After all, this is a very personal time in your life and it’s your time to shine.

spiral staircase Aldourie Scottish Castle

Romance at its heart

As you wind down the drive to Aldourie you realise one thing; that you have never arrived at anywhere quite like it. And you never will again. What better thought to start off your anniversary celebrations? With an imposing castle door, stately rooms and beautiful castle grounds, the scene is set for a romantic getaway.

Magnificent setting​ easily accessible

But let’s not forget the reason you’re here – to celebrate! Aldourie oozes enough charm, ambiance and style to rival any regal place. So, spoil your guests with luxurious surroundings, bedrooms fit for royalty and food of the highest order. Here, you’re all left to enjoy the Castle and Estate in your own way and in your own time.

With just the sounds of wildlife at your door you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re miles away from anywhere. In fact, the main road to Inverness is just outside the Castle walls and direct flights go from London Heathrow to Inverness airport daily. This means a private hire Castle in the Scottish Highlands is a lot more accessible than you would at first think.

Anniversary Celebrations Aldourie Castle ScotlandCelebrate in your own style

Anniversary celebrations come in all shapes and sizes. So there’s no reason to stick to something tried and tested just because it works. Trust us; everything works and anything goes at Aldourie. But by all means be led by recommendation. What would we suggest? Drinks and canapes in the Drawing Room, an elegant feast in the Dining Room featuring the best of Scottish cuisine, followed by a party in the Main Hall. If a summer anniversary celebration, your guests can overspill onto the lawn that reaches down to Loch Ness.

Note: Ceilidhs certainly vamp up any party especially if you hoped to accompany your traditional Scottish Castle with traditional dance and music. And night caps are best enjoyed in the library against the backdrop of bookshelves and dark wood. But don’t be surprised if the wanderers amongst your party decide to stray and find themselves stargazing from an inviting-looking window seat or roaming portrait-laden passageways looking for a wardrobe that leads to a whimsical wintry world. The beauty of a great inner hall Aldourie Scottish Castlecelebration at exclusive use Aldourie Castle is the possibilities it creates.

Party atmosphere

Whether you stay for a weekend or two weeks for your special celebration, rest assured your every whim can be catered for. You may wish to have one main party evening to celebrate your anniversary with a host of activities strewn throughout your stay. We can organise any activity, from Charades around the fireplace to a full blown Nessie hunt on Loch Ness.

An exclusive Highland Castle such as Aldourie can inspire a traditional Anniversary Party Celebration to exceed itself. And the beauty of that? It’s likely to become one of your best memories of all because it includes all your favourite people.

 


Yachting or boating on the Caledonian Canal Scotland

One of the best ways to truly experience the Scottish Highlands is to get out on a boat over the Caledonian Canal. The shimmering waters weave through these majestic hills and there’s so much to see and experience. The Caledonian Canal is 60 miles of fresh water just waiting to take you to sights you’ve only dreamed of. Twenty-two miles of this is a man made wide canal enabling inland sailing crossing the whole of Scotland. Four large lochs make up the remainder, one of which is Loch Ness. This memorable sightseeing ride is there for the taking. And if you already have yourself a yacht (or other means of water transport), so much the better…
boating on caledonian canal

We can give you a few ideas of what to see whilst yachting along the Caledonian Canal. And there is plenty to see and do both on and off the water.

Destination east

“A most enjoyable and life-changing experience during a holiday in Scotland”, according to many of our previous guests, is to take a trip to Moray Firth and visit the dolphins. Are you a yacht owner or have you hired a yacht whilst touring the Scottish Highlands? If so, you can easily head east from Inverness. Take in the striking and ethereal surroundings of the imposing wild hills as you go. Soon enough you will come across the peaceful scenery of Moray Firth. Here you can sail along beside the friendliest fish in the sea and the largest school of dolphins in the UK.

Destination south

If you decide to travel downwards from Inverness in the Scottish Highlands you will pass a host of cultural and scenic spots. These include the must-visit quaint village of Invergarry, home to Invergarry Castle amongst many other beautiful sights. Originally the seat of the Chiefs of the Clan MacDonnell of Glengarry (another Castle – at which you can also enjoy a delightful lunch), the Castle has a fascinating history. Its gothic façade makes even the least interested sight-seers want to roam around its evocative grounds.Golfing Near the Caledonian Canal Scotland

Stop for a spot of food and drink at a deli or brasserie in this charming village. Later, venture forth and sail your yacht further down the Caledonian Canal. Veer off slightly to the west before stopping at the famous Fort William. Known as the gateway to Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak, this lovely town is full of outdoor sport and beautiful yet challenging walking trails.

Destination north

Dornoch is just one of the championship golf courses in close proximity to Aldourie Castle in Inverness. It provides an opportunity to hone your golfing skills whilst holidaying in Scotland. Maybe you’re an experienced golfer and touring the Scottish Highlands by yacht to break up a golfing holiday. In this case, Royal Dornoch is definitely somewhere you want to stop off – or tee off!

Destination west

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Not until you reach Muir of Ord. This is again just one of many of its kind in Scotland; a whisky distillery with a name of prestigious heritage. Close by, and after a tasting of course, you may stumble upon Beauly. Enter a typical Highlands town complete with abbey ruins, quaint coffee shop-delis and stores with old-fashioned Highland quality and values. One such place is called Campbell’s, an outfitters which combines the tradition and warmth of a local shop with the quality of a high fashion befitting the Scottish gentry. It also offers a bespoke tailoring service – why not get fitted with gear for a shoot on one of the local Highland Estates?
Boating on the Caledonian Canal Scotland

Take a break from the water

As you can see, there is more to the Scottish Highlands than simply taking – or trekking – the high road. From picture perfect villages with friendly locals to ancient ruins with their own ghosts of the past, a journey by yacht can expertly combine a luxurious five star holiday. Along the way enjoy random adventures at every turn culminating in memories to treasure. Here’s a thought: moor up your yacht at Aldourie’s private marina on Loch Ness and hire out this enchanting Castle for a couple of nights. Then set off to explore more of the famously impressive and innovative Caledonian Canal.


A Scottish New Year tradition: Hogmanay

On 31st December, the Scots are preparing for a celebration fest while most of the world will be celebrating New Year’s Eve. But the importance the Scottish people place on this night and beyond is a tradition like no other. For Scotland, Hogmanay is the biggest celebration in the festive calendar. It’s bigger even than Christmas Day – and it’s certainly worth waiting for. You thought the Highland Games was a cultural signifier; think again, and consider spending New Year in a castle at Aldourie Estate.

hogmanay-edinburgh

Definition of Hogmanay and its origins

Hogmanay is the name the Scots give to their celebrations on New Year’s Eve. Where did the word originate? History suggests that its common roots reach back to the Norsemen – “men of the north”. This occurred in Scandinavia (between the 8th – 11th Centuries) who celebrated the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year) with wild parties during late December. The Gaelic Samhain winter festival and the Vikings’ Yule highly influenced these parties. The Scots labelled these celebrations ‘daft days’. Hogmanay culminates in a real mix of cultural, national and historical influences now that has been established for a few centuries it. The best celebrations always do!

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

The length of celebratory activities mainly differentiates Hogmanay from traditional New Year’s Eve parties. 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. The streets in Scotland remain deserted while the rest of the UK is generally easing back into business.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. This comprises 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. 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

Scotland began to celebrate Christmas only in recent years. 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 the Scots announced Boxing Day 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. And 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.

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

There are other traditions. 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 spend New Year in a castle by celebrating 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.

We really can’t think of a better way to celebrate and immerse yourself in full Hogmanay spirit than by spending New Year in a castle on the shores of Loch Ness.


Top 5 places of interest around Inverness and Aldourie

The Scottish Highlands is swarming with things to do at any time of year. With so many day trips and activities available to you and your group or family stay on Loch Ness we understand it can be difficult to decide what to arrange to do or visit during your weekend or week at Aldourie. We think that packing your suitcase is the most you should have to work at when taking a luxury holiday to Scotland and so, if you were our guests staying for a while, we’d be suggesting you experience all or some of the below to get a real taste of the Highlands. And we can arrange every last detail.cawdor Inverness

Cawdor Castle

Located in Nairn (so around a 30 minute drive from Inverness) and a fun, cultural day out, Cawdor Castle is a beautiful place and one of the many historical delights of Scotland. The 14th Century Castle is open to the public and hosts a number of public events throughout the year including the Living Food Weekend on the 17th and 18th of September combining local food and drink stalls with art and craft. The Estate has a magical ambiance with a Hogwarts appeal. Its formal gardens, including a maze and walled garden, are a stunning array of wild and traditional flora where keen gardeners will find both enjoyment and inspiration.

Home to the Cawdor family to this day, the Castle is not unlike Aldourie with its neat little turrets and lush green backdrop, within; its homeliness and attention to detail. Wander through its beautifully ordained and decadent bedrooms admiring family portraits and heirlooms and look out for the family dogs lazing together in a cosy spot. Pause for a moment on the steps on your way to the Great Hall surrounded by high stone walls, arched doorways and original glassless windows to really feel the history of this Scottish Castle home.Jacobite memorial Inverness

Culloden Battlefield

You have not visited Inverness without a trip to Culloden Battlefield. Let yourself be transported back 250 years when the European War hit Scotland for a one hour battle that changed the fate of the Highlands forever. Culloden is a short break or holiday must-see attraction where infamous Scottish clans fought to reclaim the British throne; where much blood was shed and many stories over the years have been derived.

The location is unique and beholds an immense amount of history; both in its atmosphere and its artefacts. The land you will walk over features ‘graves of the clans’ and ‘the well of the dead’ so be sure to head home to Aldourie before midnight so as not to let Culloden interfere with your fairytale dreams. Roam from the original farmhouse that survived the battle – Old Leanach Cottage – to the contemporary Visitor Centre with exhibitions including immersion theatre and audio visual, which re-enact elements of the famous battle before your very eyes.

The above are just two of the great sights of the Scottish Highlands, all within shooting distance of Aldourie Castle. And where better to head back to than an exclusive use historic Castle to enjoy all to yourself after visiting such dramatic, significant and luxurious locations. Fancy a night cap? …because you haven’t truly appreciated the wild Highlands of Scotland until you’ve sipped a dram or two of Highland whisky. Here are a few of Aldourie’s favourite distilleries so, by all means, take your pick…dram of whisky Aldourie Castle Inverness

Visiting a whisky distillery in Scotland, whether you’re just dropping in on the way back from a famous Scottish landmark or have booked in advance, is an experience to savour. Walking through the shop door you’re greeted like an old friend and there is a scent of nostalgia as you are enveloped by warmth; both from the air and the welcome. The reason? Maybe it’s the love and patriarchy that goes into the whisky making process. Or it could be the endless competition…

Step inside most distilleries open to the public for tastings and tours and you’ll find a cosy and beautifully displayed shop; a shrine to their brand. Neatly presented staff in matching uniform and numerous gift items related to the product – perfect for a grandparent present if you haven’t yet come across a decent magnet – greet each and every guest.  There are so many small and independent traditional distilleries that there’s no room for complacency – you could literally go from door to door on a cold winter’s day in the Highlands and experience something heartwarmingly different at each one.

Tomatin Whisky Distillery

Let’s start off with Tomatin – a single malt Scotch whisky distillery established in 1897. This one is great for the kids as their tour guides keep the information clear and informative. Efficiently run and ideal for the whisky novice this distillery just a short drive from Aldourie Castle offers a succinct and easy to understand introduction to Scotch whisky. Likewise, there is enough knowledge thrown in for the experienced whisky lover.whisky distillery Inverness

Muir of Ord Distillery

With a remarkable family history dating back to 1263 and a distillery that helped ensure work for the local men throughout the 19th Century, Glen Ord Distillery is tradition at its best. Educational and helpful the whisky tours cover a wealth of information and knowledge, and are delivered with a passion for the brand and a dedication to its past. Weave through the working machinery to really feel involved in this historical malt.

Dalmore Distillery

Situated 20 miles north of Inverness Dalmore combines a legendary past with a most picturesque landscape from a beautiful original stone built property. Is it any wonder Aldourie recommends this whisky distillery to guests? A creation of one man’s dream the whisky’s unique taste is owed to its unique natural setting. During your visit enjoy views over the Black Isle meadows whilst learning of the regal history of The Dalmore and tasting its characterful collections.

From mashing to fermenting to distilling, all our recommended whisky tasting tours offer something unique and entirely Scottish. These makers are proud of their distinct product, their handmade single malts, state of the art machinery and in-depth processes, culminating in the purest dram.Loch Ness Inverness

Now that you know Aldourie has all bases covered (not least your fine Scottish drink sampling) for a Castle retreat on Loch Ness, you’ve little else to do but pack your suitcase and book that culture-filled holiday of your dreams. Why not make yours a Christmas or New Years’ 2016 holiday in the atmospheric Scottish Highlands.