Winter walks and wonders around Loch Ness and the Highlands

Christmas in Scotland has come and gone, but the beauty and magnificence of Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands are here waiting to be explored. Winter is a magical time to adventure through all that Loch Ness has to offer. The city of Inverness is on its doorstep. It’s just six miles away from the spectacular Aldourie Castle Estate available for private hire for luxury family holidays. Loch Ness’ flows past the Castle offering an idyllic winter setting for group stays or special celebrations over New Year and January. There’s so much to experience from your luxury base at Aldourie for those who would truly love to discover the beauty and wonder of the Scottish Highlands.

Castle ruins of Urquhart Castle

Taking in the ethereal surroundings of Loch Ness, you can’t help but be moved by the silhouette of this ancient castle ruins set against a clear blue winter sky. The reputable Jacobite Cruises offers various boat rides to incorporate this landmark sat upon the north western shoreline. The mighty Urquhart resides upon Strone Point, a rocky peninsula on Loch Ness. The tour begins from various local locations at varying lengths and can incorporate the scenic manmade Caledonian Canal (see below).

The journey to Urquhart is narrated throughout with both facts and fables about Loch Ness and the illustrious Nessie. It will take you and your private party of guests up close to the Castle. Once ashore you can take time exploring the Castle ruins (entry included). Be sure to stand atop the Grant Tower to take in spectacular views across the Great Glen. Urquhart Castle is one of Scotland’s most popular attractions and features a dramatic history. Records show that a castle has stood on this site from at least the 13th Century. Urquhart is just one of numerous castle ruins in and around Loch Ness worthy of a visit.

Explore the Caledonian Canal

Ordinarily the canal is open in winter months but is undergoing works in January 2020 (before planning a trip we suggest checking the Canal Works and Updates page on the website. Either wait a while until spring (open from April) or take a tour next winter.

Push the boat out and visit further afield during your winter stay at Aldourie. The Caledonian Canal adjoins the Scottish east coast at Inverness with the west coast at Corpach near Fort William. The impressive 60-mile long canal makes a memorable day out whether you opt for a relaxing paddle boat or a long distance canoeing challenge. You can even charter a yacht to take in the magnificent stretch of scenery aside the canal as you glide through these shimmering waters. There’s so much to explore along the canal, whether you walk it, cycle the paths or travel its waters. Here is Aldourie’s guide to seeing the best of the Caledonian Canal from all angles. Either during a cottage break on Loch Ness or a few nights in the Castle you can admire its breath-taking scenery and hop off at the some culture spots along the way.

Winter wildlife walks around Loch Ness

Nature is the best remedy. And glimpsing the most beautiful and elusive of wildlife can be even more therapeutic, especially in the coldness of winter. You’ll find plenty of wildlife in and around the Aldourie Estate during a Castle or cottage stay. If the former then the 500 acres also incorporates an arboretum where you might be lucky enough to see a red squirrel. If the latter then the public footpaths take you through woodland and fields where you can see precious birds of prey soaring high above you or spot a timid roe deer from behind a tree.
Further off the Castle Estate, the routes and trails of Loch Ness will have you eager to put on your hiking boots. For the birdwatcher in you, there’s beauty and variety abound around the water’s edge of Loch Ness and especially round the River Ness. The river flows from the north of Loch Ness to Inverness and as well as boasting spectacular scenery this trail into the city attracts striking coloured birds such as waxwings and chaffinches plus delicate birds like redwings, coal tits and fieldfares.

Distillery tour for nostalgic comfort

There’s something about visiting a whisky distillery in the Scottish Highlands that calms the soul. There’s a definite quiet as you enter any distillery, like in a museum. That sure sense of people and machinery hard at work, that is reassuring; of productivity and dedication that puts you at ease and in the capable hands of the whisky makers. The smell of the yeast that takes you back to another time you’ve possibly never known, but that is still comforting. As you begin the tour, there’s the golden glow and silvery shine of the distillery machinery, later the poignant scent of the age-old barrels and at the end the warmth of the whisky on your throat during the tasting. The ordered gleaming bottles in the gift shop, the cosy lighting glinting off the exquisite branded glasses on display. A feeling of peace and perfect symmetry that everything, right now, is right with the world.


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