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.


Holiday activities on Loch Ness: Part 2

Part 1; ‘Holiday activities on Loch Ness’ explored the various ways in which to take advantage of Loch Ness. That famous stretch of water that makes up part of the captivating view from the luxury of Aldourie Castle. This second instalment continues your peaceful, always scenic and sometimes adventurous journey. As a group of guests at Aldourie, you’ll utilise the unique and beautiful Scottish natural landscape that is – very literally – on your doorstep.

Work colleagues: unique teambuilding activities spark innovation

When did you last review your teambuilding calendar? Do you go back year-on-year to the same hotel for your teambuilding experience with your company or work colleagues? Here are two activities you can enjoy with team members on Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Both offer a completely unique experience of Loch Ness but let you enter into the spirit of teamwork, competition and fun all at the same time.Loch Ness Holiday Activities

Have you ever zorbed on water?

Water zorbing is a (fairly) recent craze to hit the Highlands that involves walking on water (yes, you read correctly) in the safety, and dare we say, comfort Usually performed on flat ground in a large transparent ball but sometimes on a slope. Zorbing lets the rider experience the freedom of weightlessness and speed, igniting their confidence and letting them embrace their inner child.

They say do one thing a day that scares you. If the idea of zorbing on Loch Ness gives you more goose bumps than bumping into Nessie would do too. The team at Aldourie Castle are always here however to encourage and support. If, on the other hand this teambuilding sport in the Scottish Highlands sounds like a lot of fun then please don’t hesitate to book your company activity day at this Scottish Castle Estate – we welcome corporate groups at any time of year.

If the idea of canoeing with colleagues leaves you a little out of your depth then an exclusive stay at the only liveable castle on the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland may give you a different perspective. It is during private hire corporate teambuilding stays that groups of colleagues learn how to be a team and enjoy it at the same time rather than feeling as though they’ve been dragged along to another activity day in another location that offers nothing different from the last. Locations like Aldourie Estate in the Scottish Highlands bring corporate teambuilding to a new level. Step into a canoe from our private pier and within moments you’ll be learning a new skill whilst witnessing one of the world’s most captivating areas of natural beauty.Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness Holiday Activities

Individuals – time to yourself is important in a busy world

When you think of activities you can enjoy in Scotland what springs to mind? Walking. Trekking. Cycling. What about swimming? Where there’s a highland hill there’s likely to be a loch down below so swimming should be just as popular as walking, right? Perhaps not in the Scottish Highlands. The weather plays a huge part; walking is a traditional highly enjoyable hobby during every season whereas swimming is mostly partaken in the warmer, summer months.

You’ve dived in at the deep end by booking to stay at a spectacular and unique exclusive use property so this is the ideal opportunity to experience a breath-taking activity that not everybody has tried. Wild swimming lets you explore secret coves, hidden waterfalls and, whilst you’re in the vicinity of Aldourie Castle, majestic lochs. Let go of stress, breathe in that fresh Highland air (it’s good for you, honest) and be at one with nature; all before breakfast.

Fishing on Loch Ness

Experience fishing on Loch Ness when you stay with family or friends or even entirely on your own at the only castle with bedrooms on this long, wondrous shoreline. If you’ve never taken yourself off to the nearest waterway with a packed lunch, a rucksack of maggots and a rod then there’s no better time to do just that than during an exclusive use stay in a Scottish Castle. Likewise, experienced anglers will not be held back when they have the most picturesque paradise at their fingertips.Fishing - Loch Ness Holiday Activities

Whether you’re holidaying with friends or part of a multigenerational family holiday, escaping the group for a while and taking some “me time” to go fishing on Loch Ness can be rewarding in more ways than you think. Not only can you catch your own dinner (why not ask Aldourie’s chef will gladly make a creative dish out of your day’s catch) but you will soon discover the pleasure of your own company out in the wilderness of the Highlands. Though the Loch Ness shoreline is only minutes from the luxurious and homely Castle the freedom is all-consuming and the air as fresh as the water itself.

Just a canoe and you for complete solitude

Ever had that dream where you’re out on your own in the middle of a calm ocean with nothing but water for miles and miles? How does it make you feel? Alone? Frightened? Free? There’s an activity you can experience on Loch Ness that could definitely be described as dreamlike; canoeing on your own. When there’s no one to chat to then there’s no distraction. Out in the middle of Loch Ness you can hear yourself think and breathe and give attention to the beautiful Highland landscape that, though thoroughly enjoyable with others by your side, becomes majestic in its power to transport you to another world; Scotland’s very own Narnia or a dreamlike state of mind.Canoeing Loch Ness Holiday Activities

It’s fair to say that there is a never-ending list of activities to enjoy on the famous stretch of fresh water that glides passed Aldourie’s drawing room window, any moment of every day. From group fun to secluded soul searching and romantic jaunts, water can make a luxury holiday even more exciting and exclusive. Just think of the special photos you’ll capture and the fresh air in your lungs if you need any more persuading, although after reading these two blog posts we’re sure you won’t require any  further convincing to set sail on your own Loch Ness adventure in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.


What does Exclusive Use of a private Castle actually mean?

The first thing to know when you hear the words ‘Exclusive Use’ in reference to a hospitality venue or private property is that it’s most likely a very special and unique place indeed. And secondly, if it’s a historic property, that it is unlikely to be open to the public, making it an even more exciting and intriguing place to visit. Thirdly, this phrase means that the property is available only for private hire by an individual or group. There is no rule who that individual or group may be; it could be a family reunion of numerous generations, a corporate booking or a close group of friends sharing an idyllic holiday. With us, you can rent an entire castle on the shores of Loch Ness.

The library has hundreds of books Use of a private Castle

All of the above outlined attributes of our beloved Castle go down very well with guests. They like to know they are staying in not only a beautiful property but a special venue that can be experienced only by those who feel it worthy enough of hiring the place privately for themselves or their group. This private Scottish Estate and the enchanting Castle that sits within it is classed as a private historic property rather than a public place owned by any of the national heritage organisations that look after buildings and gardens, such as the National Trust or Historic Houses Association.

These organisations are brilliant at up-keeping hundreds of beautiful properties that are dotted around the UK and are responsible for opening their doors during certain time of the year for the public to visit and enjoy. (This is not always the first wish of their current owners but in fact a necessity to keep the contents and the properties themselves in existence). If owners are lucky enough to not to have to rely on The National Trust and HHA for their services and therefore tick all the boxes and have means to operate as a private hire property then this opens up a whole new set of opportunities for such heritage buildings.

4. Aldourie Castle from Loch Ness Use of a private Castle

Setting up your own heritage Estate as a private hire property however is not as simple as listing it on a few websites and telling some travel agents where it is located. There is hard work to be done in making it ready for the guests you want to attract. For instance, health and safety regulations have to be adhered to and any overnight accommodation has to be guest-ready (not like the red-roped bedrooms you see in various stately homes that, although look inviting and exciting to experience, would probably leave you with a bad back by morning).

Like any top hotel, private use venues have a priority; to satisfy guests with an exceptional service and comfort so they either book again for next year or recommend the property to family and friends. All this means research into what other exclusive use properties are offering on a service and comfort level, and aiming to match or go a step further than them. It then also means investment of pieces such as incredibly comfortable items befitting the property. There is a certain knack needed here which is why so often a professional interior designer is hired; the furniture must be attractive, coordinating, comfortable, endurable and at the same time, if in a historic setting, should appear as if it was placed there hundreds of years ago. The same theory applies to the decoration of floors, walls, ornaments and artwork etc. You get the idea! There is so much to prepare for before a property can even be considered as being hired out to the luxury travel market.
Use of a private Castle - red room

Now you realise that the properties you see available for ‘Exclusive hire or Exclusive use are those which are in-keeping with their original era through design, style and architecture but have most definitely been through a period of transformation and modernisation of their facilities, both inside the property and in the grounds. This is no mean feat and, as with Aldourie Castle, often takes years of vision, research, preparation, hard work and perseverance in order to achieve the final outcome. Guests who hire an exclusive use property therefore appreciate what they are getting in return.

For there is something quite special and mystical when you rent an entire castle for a week, or even just overnight, in a country house or castle that was once lived in centuries ago by families and welcomed intriguing historical characters as visitors for weeks on end. Aldourie itself was such a Castle, complete with house party status and part of a celebrated and popular sporting Highlands Estate.

Privately hiring this Castle as your own home lets you and your guests share in the memories of years gone by, family secrets and as many historical facts as you can possibly take in. Exclusive Use is what is says on the tin: special, privileged and entirely yours. Enquire to rent an entire castle exclusively on the shores of Loch Ness today.