We’d like to introduce you to the wonder of Aldourie through the seasons, to help you decide when best to stay in a holiday cottage or have a luxury family house party in the Scottish Highlands. The look and atmosphere of the Castle changes throughout the year and each season brings more wonder than the last. Welcome to a year in colours and scents at Loch Ness’ most enchanting castle and estate…
The joys of springtime on the Aldourie Castle Estate really do set guests and staff up for the year ahead. The colours in the arboretum start to appear; green foliage creeps out of bare branches and brambles and the buds show their heads in the garden and woodland. On the Estate, private holiday guests can look forward to fresh fragrant walks in the mornings and afternoons coming across daffodils and daisies aplenty that spill out over the acres of parkland.
The delightful sound of spring in the air comes from the eclectic birdsong in the woods and bushes. Families who use the Estate to its full advantage during their exclusive stay at the Castle will notice the wildlife awakening from their homes – red squirrel, pine martins and roe deer are just a few animals to be found in the Scottish Highlands. Springtime calls for a game of archery in the park for early risers and midday picnics sitting amongst the bluebells.
In Aldourie Castle, we gather up some wild flowers and daffodils from the grounds and arrange them into vases throughout the bedrooms for guests to enjoy.
When the weather is high…and even when it’s low, summertime at Aldourie is a sight to behold. Cottage guests can wander the Estate into the evening, enjoying the light nights along Dores Beach, walking the dog through shadowed trails and gazing over Loch Ness from the Estate’s private pier. The boats bobbing on the marina are symbolic of the summer season at Aldourie; backed by the majestic Highland hills they accentuate the calmness of Scotland’s beautiful nature and distinctive wildlife.
The Castle gardens start to bloom with bright colours in every shade from rose arches to rhododendron walks and wild cascading flowers. The tree house and campfire spots are popular pastimes among summer guests with their promise of adventures and warmer nights. BBQs on the terrace overlooking the loch make for an enjoyable afternoon in the sun and into the evening when guests can wander the grounds with a glass of the Castle’s finest cellar wine.
Chef brings in seasonal herbs and fruits to bring dishes to life; from summer favourites including forest fruit cheesecakes and gateaux to new fish and chicken pies and salads.
The trees start to turn in September usually but it does depend on the climate. A sea of golds, burnt oranges and crimson reds sweeps across the Scottish Highland hills and woodland floor, cocooning Aldourie Castle in an autumnal coloured rainbow. For cottage and Castle guests that stay during October and November the atmospheric Loch Ness and old family graveyard are among their favourite haunts, from Halloween strolls through clusters of parkland trees to peaceful boat rides in the nostalgically scented afternoon.
Afternoon Tea is often served in the Red Drawing Room where guests can recline on chaise longues and look out at the golden peaks and the forests swaying in the autumn breeze. Throughout the Castle, open fires flame with a gentle roar and cosy furnishings provide the perfect luxury base. Outside, because it’s always more fun to be there, the children can pick apples and various other fruits from the mini orchard near the greenhouses. The season brings plenty of pine cones and conkers for them to collect on chilly mornings.
Pumpkin pie is an Aldourie Castle chef staple, enjoyed best with friends and a fresh pot of coffee in the Laird’s Room. After cooking up an autumnal feast in the country kitchens of the holiday cottages, guests succumb to the temptation of the wood burning stove after crunching some leaves underfoot during a satisfying woodland walk.
Colour slowly fades on the Estate and a silence falls as the Highland wildlife returns to shelter. Blue, cloudless skies and low sun heats up the wintry mornings; guests love a brisk walk before breakfast then watching the children race back to the Castle for a full Scottish fry up! Afternoons are made up on speedboat rides on Loch Ness wrapped up in winter woollies feeling the crisp wind against your face and dewy winter wonderland strolls looking up onto snow-capped peaks over crystal clear waters.
Back inside the Castle, hot cider and mulled wine flows and candles with festive scents fill the staterooms with smells of Christmas. Chef can be found cooking hot casseroles and Sunday roasts using the finest local game, poultry and winter veg accompanied at their best with a soul-warming bottle of Merlot from the Castle cellar at the traditional dining table.
If you’re lucky enough to be staying on the Aldourie Estate when the snow falls one of the most magical sights is seeing the Castle from the Dores side of the Loch, backed by evergreen forests and fronted with snow-capped hedges and a calming glistening lake. Snow drops and snow bells pepper the formal gardens and arboretum – fill up a vase for the bedroom to bring in the exciting smells of winter to your cottage retreat.