Summer in Loch Ness – 8 things to do

There is a wealth of activities to experience in this infinite, wild land that is home to Aldourie Castle and its traditional, cosy holiday cottages. Here are just a few exciting and adventurous things to do in the magnificent Scottish Highlands and majestic Loch Ness waters that will help lift your spirits and energy levels. They will also make you wonder why on earth you never thought of visiting Scotland before…

Hiking Summer in Loch Ness

Walking and hiking

The breath-taking scenery of barren land and mountainous peaks are a sea of greens, greys, blues and yellows – a real treat for the eyes, and the lungs.

Get out into Scotland’s wilderness and explore the walking trails and hiking paths. Good short but scenic walks include Loch Ness, Glen Affric and the Black Isle and for the hiker in you venture up high to the Isle of Skye and scramble up the Black Cuillin mountains to experience much longer Scottish Highland hikes and some unforgettable views. The more you challenge yourself on your short break in the unpredictable Scottish Highlands the more rewarding your time in this beautiful, spirit freeing place will be. Some spectacular and impressive Loch Ness and Highland walks can be found at Hillwalk Tours and Walk Highlands.

Cycling

There are supposedly nine million bicycles in Beijing. There are a lot fewer in Scotland but in our opinion there is more beauty to be seen cycling through the Highland hills. Once a wooden framed, simply designed apparatus this piece of engineering art is now enjoyed by millions of people across the world. From the practiced competing cyclist to the family of four who just like to explore to the mountain biking enthusiast, cycling is becoming more popular by the day.

cycling low res

This simple, historic sport is faster than walking or running and you get a sense of exhilaration whizzing through the tall Highland forests or along winding Loch Ness cycle paths. You can explore so much more on a bike than on foot whilst on holiday in the Scottish Highlands. Find out some great cycling routes at Visit Scotland

Canoeing

You’ve either never been in a canoe before or you got the bug in your invincible teens and spent the rest of your life in one. Or, you were made to get in one for a corporate away day once – and “never again”. Well, in our book, canoeing holidays in Scotland are a great way to explore and discover the wilderness regions on the Scottish Highlands, its rivers and lochs.

With literally dozens of helpful and informative websites on canoeing in Scotland, you can take your pick of these experienced organisations from basic canoe paddling with Explore Highland to adventure loving Wilderness Scotland.

The famous Great Glen Canoe Trail takes you along the Caledonian Canal from Aldourie Castle’s nearest town, Inverness, to historic Fort William, full details of which can be found at our local tourism website.

Summer in Loch Ness CanoeingBoat Tours

One of the most incredible things about a week or a fortnight staying with your private party at Aldourie Castle and Estate is the close proximity to the water’s edge of Loch Ness.

Not only do the beautiful Highland grounds lead into woodland for you start off any of your walks or hikes above but it also features its own marina and private pier on the famous lake ideal for boat tours on Loch Ness.

Our Castle guests can board any type of boat from the pier from speed boats to the Nessie Hunter to canoes and even water zorbs for the kids. But one of our favourite things to do on Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands is take a boat cruise from Fort William or Inverness and take in the history, facts and folklore of the vast lake and let its mystery and mesmerising beauty calm your soul and take you into another world.

To find a boating tour on Loch Ness to make the most of your holiday in Scotland take a trip with Jacobite Cruises and Tours which go past Aldourie Castle and Urquhart Castle or Loch Ness Cruises in Drumnadrochit. Jacobite cruises loch ness Summer in Loch Ness

Whether you’re planning a week long cottage stay in the Scottish Highlands or opting for exclusive use of a beautiful and luxurious private hire property such as Aldourie with its own Highland grounds, Scotland caters for all. This should leave you filling your Loch Ness holiday itinerary until Part 2 arrives for details on Whisky making tours, Nessie hunting and more.


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?


Luxury hen party weekend in Scotland

A Royal Night Out? This week’s new film release depicts the royal princesses escaping the Palace’s grandeur for more excitement. However, we suggest, if a home is adorned with beauty, space and luxury, it’s more fun staying in. Here’s how to hen party in fairytale style when you rent a castle for the weekend in Scotland.

You are organising your best friend or sister’s hen party weekend but not sure what to do or where to go. Ideally, you want to encompass all the traditional traits of a sophisticated hen party in one well executed, yet still impulsive and exciting, weekend. Already sound like a challenge?

Your idea is for all the girls to have the opportunity to dress to impress – but still be pampered, enjoy some fine dining (and wining) – but also Afternoon Tea (Betty’s, Harrods or even Savoy style), whilst  luxuriating in a beautiful setting – preferably befitting a princess. A lot to ask for in one weekend? We don’t think so! And, we have the answer to your prayers: rent a castle for the weekend in the heart of beautiful, enchanting Scotland.

Aldourie castle , Loch Nes, tea and champagne Luxury hen party

Rent a castle for the weekend

There may be dozens of castle turrets at Aldourie, but there is only one roof; making your private hen party stay here a most intimate and personal celebration for the bride and her closest girlfriends. Unlike a hotel, hen party guests can wander through the Castle at their leisure making use of each room for those ‘spontaneous’ and sophisticated hen party games: Hide and Seek, Narnia style, anyone?

Our expert hospitality team also invites you to share your plans for your stylish, glamorous hen party weekend. That way, you are still staying in control but we do all the hard work to perfect the stay of your dreams. There is no need to venture to the nearest cocktail bar for the all-important Cocktail Making Session; we can organise that in the Castle’s Main Hall. Because we are so sure of our 5 star status and work with a variety of trusted suppliers we promise to deliver any of your chosen events with style, impeccable service and professionalism.

Bespoke and personable

Aldourie is a place without boundaries, where guests are encouraged to explore and free to roam and use their imaginations. We want your hen party to be a magical experience you tell your grandchildren about. Instead of a formal long list of ‘hotel’ rules, we ask you simply to respect the history and beauty when you rent a castle for the weekend in the stunning Scottish Highlands. We have found this helps you and your party to relax.

Jacobite cruises loch ness Luxury hen party

Where else, even in the most luxury hotel in the UK, could you take over the outdoor grounds with just your hen party? Maybe for a price you could, but it possibly wouldn’t feel as personal and special as having a medieval Castle garden, woodland and moat (aka marina) all to yourself. Any outdoor activity akin to hen party fun, such as zorbing, can be arranged on Loch Ness itself or around the luscious green parkland. Both feature a breath-taking backdrop of the Scottish Highlands that could knock you silly!

Exclusively yours

Why share your special hen party celebrations with anyone else? At Aldourie Castle on peaceful Loch Ness shores ensconced in stunning Highlands hills and surrounded by thick forests, you and your party of close girlfriends could be the stars of your favourite Disney film or fairytale book. At Aldourie the only way we do anything is by exclusive use, so be prepared to enter the world of your dreams; be pampered, spoiled rotten, indulged and possibly have the best weekend of your life, so far…

Luxury and grandeur

The delightful individually styled bedrooms add such grandeur and luxury to your hen party weekend. Designed in a unique style of their own each bedroom can be assigned to your hen party princesses to suit personality and taste – now, that’s something you wouldn’t get in a hotel. Lady Grey bedroom with its huge en-suite bathroom is a bride-to-be’s dream; a high up turret fit for a queen where you can slip into cosy dressing gowns with your friends, sip champagne and await your personal pamper or spa experience. Try a luxury bootcamp or morning group yoga session on the lawn by Loch Ness to really get into the spirit of your hen party weekend.

Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness Boots n Paddles Luxury hen party

A perfect hen party setting

Located in the midst of a 500 acre estate, behind a tall original Castle wall resides a 17th Century masterpiece. Perfectly formed to cater for your sophisticated hen party weekend away in Scotland, this luxurious private hire property could get lost in layer upon layer of vast green landscape. Considered by all who’ve experienced its magic to be a very special venue, Aldourie Castle is a hen party location with history, character, charm and magnificence combined; the perfect start to wedded bliss. Contact us today to rent a castle for the weekend right here on the shores of Loch Ness.


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


5 reasons to choose an intimate winter castle wedding

Enter into the start the New Year with an intimate snow-topped Castle wedding

It may be something about the cosiness of a roaring fire lighting up the room as you enjoy a delicious Scottish wedding breakfast, or the crisp wintery air outside allowing you to snuggle further into your white fur cape placed delicately over your beaded dress, or the simply stunning photograph opportunities that can be achieved with such ethereal and pristine winter backdrops. Whatever your reasoning behind choosing an intimate winter wedding, we at Aldourie Castle couldn’t agree with you more. Here are a few more reasons why a winter wedding is the perfect end, or start, to the year.

Margaret Soraya wedding photography - Aldourie Castle castle wedding
Winter weddings are an excuse to wrap up warm in fur or velvet

Arrive in style wrapped up to the nines in a beautiful warm wedding dress

One of the bonuses of a winter wedding is that your wedding dress can be as heavy or as full as you wish without worrying about being too warm during your Big Day. Why not theme your dress around your venue – Medieval or other vintage styles would befit the Castle, with some added luxury and sparkle perhaps; beads, diamantes, full lace sleeves and velvet are gorgeous options that would look and feel in-keeping with the season.

Be adventurous with colour

If white is really not for you there are plenty of rich or bright shades which perfectly contrast against cool wintry settings – such as crimson or emerald green. Although wedding dresses can be colourful all year round choosing one for your winter wedding makes such a statement amongst a more sepia toned setting. The cool but atmospheric backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, either baron or snow-topped, make any winter wedding photograph a work of art. Bright colours in the foreground will add much interest and depth to the look and feel of your wedding day.

The Scottish Highlands create a magical backdrop castle wedding
The Scottish Highlands create a dreamy and magical backdrop

Hot beverages for a party spirit!

Champagne is both elegant and traditional – especially for the ‘toast’ – but how about something different for the reception? Pimms is perfect for the height of summer so why not try the opposite for your wedding nuptials and let your guests indulge in the spiciness and festiveness of mulled wine. Many a bridal party at Aldourie Castle opts for this tipple at their winter wedding, with which guests can sit on the grass verge to gaze out over the impressively vast Loch Ness waters or take a leisurely stroll through the trees on the back drive, without feeling the chill.


Theme it ‘Winter’

So many luxury castles and houses are made for big parties – so if you’re choosing a venue such as Aldourie Castle you really can have a ball with theming your intimate wedding. A recent autumn wedding we hosted saw the bride choose sophisticated and inspired twig centrepieces and a tree-named table plan as well as throwing autumnal shades of burnt orange and deep reds into the mix – it was delightful! Although the magnificent baronial interior of the Staterooms speaks for itself there’s always room for a personal touch; take advantage of the medieval feel of the Castle and invite your guests to Winterfell in the world of Game of Thrones; this doesn’t have to be as corny as it sounds; decoration and a costume here can make for a really impressive, stylish but subtle theme. Lastly, ensure your flowers choices are brimming with rich colouring and the occasional sparkle of silver or gold.

Theme your wintry wedding castle wedding
Theme your wintry wedding: Imagine a Game of Thrones look and feel

And finally…Let it Snow!

How many of us worry about the weather, whether it be too hot and sticky or too cold and rainy? Couple that with your wedding day, and stress levels can get high just anticipating bad weather. What many a photographer may never tell you is that a bright sunny day is not necessarily the ideal scenario for capturing the best images.

By choosing to have a winter wedding you’re more likely to expect there to be snow on the ground; what better than a gentle snowfall to add to the excitement of the day. And what’s more, it means you can relax your feet in wellies under your wedding dress for some of the photos – and nobody will be any the wiser!

snow topped castle wedding Scotland castle wedding
A snow topped castle wedding on Loch Ness in Scotland: perfection

For couples searching for the perfect winter wonderland venue, Aldourie Castle near Inverness still has available intimate winter wedding dates from January to March 2015.

Celebrate with your select nearest and dearest family and friends in what will be one of the most memorable days of your lives, in an enchanting location and luxurious place.


Spend quality time with family and friends on Holiday in Scotland this winter

…and of course Nessie! Because what Scottish Highlands family holiday or vacation is complete without the famous but elusive Loch Ness Monster?

What do you think of when your hear the phrase ‘quality time’? Time to treasure at the time? Time to look back on with the fondest of memories? Time to look forward to for months beforehand? Maybe you think quality time is worthy of all three of these. But most importantly, we at Aldourie – Nessie included – think that its true meaning is when you can go somewhere special with those you love and completely be in the moment, escape from the everyday and enjoy the present, people and place, and be really contented. Some might also call this mindfulness.

Aldourie Castle panorama - Holiday in Scotland

Aldourie Castle is a magical place in the winter months, not just because its back garden is home to of one of the most famous mythical creatures in the world, but because it has housed endless house parties and elegantly dressed guests for hundreds of years, it has a unique and striking beauty, an ethereal setting and of course represents an important and immense history.

To choose to spend quality time with those closest to you whether at a special time of year, for Christmas or New Year celebrations or even the summer holidays, the place to spend that time must also be somewhere special. This is why groups of families and friends choose Aldourie Castle Estate to stay, celebrate, holiday or simply to relax.

The warm welcome guests receive at the Castle is beyond that which you would receive at a hotel. An exclusive holiday hire property is designed to be your own home for the duration of your stay and so the fact that you are relaxed and treated as if you were returning from a long time away when you first step foot through the Castle doors is something we offer unconditionally at Aldourie.

Once inside guests are immediately made to feel at home in this striking yet relaxing Castle setting. Whether you retire to your individually assigned bedroom to spend some quality bath time in your large en suite before dinner, find a window seat somewhere quiet to take some time out gazing across the incredibly scenic Loch Ness or simply head straight to the drawing room for champagne and the company of your closest family and friends, the choice of how to spend your time is all yours at Aldourie.


Hire a Castle for the weekend for business use

The advantages of booking to hire a castle for the weekend are many and in this blog we will give you a taste of what Aldourie Castle can offer. Below is the second part of our corporate hospitality blog showcasing even more of what a private hire corporate hospitality property in Scotland, such as Aldourie, has to offer business groups in the luxury group travel market.

Excellent Scottish Catering
You’ve seen the setting; it’s undeniably beautiful. That will impress your team of staff in the first instance. But what is next on their list? We imagine we are close if we say “food”. Good home cooked food is what we specialise in at Aldourie; we offer luxury dishes using the freshest ingredients, including meat, game and vegetables. We have a variety of menus unique to the Castle that our in house chef has created to define this luxury Scottish venue.

Hire a Castle for the Weekend for Business Use

Available for group hire
When a company spends time and money choosing an ideal venue for their important business meetings or events, having a venue all to yourself is sometimes a necessity. As one of Scotland’s most impressive corporate hospitality properties, Aldourie is proud to offer only exclusive hire, allowing you to hire a castle for the weekend exclusively for your needs to any one business group. Private use of the Castle is what makes it special, more special we think than staying in a top hotel or spending the day in a modern specially designed conference centre.

Even though the Castle is historic in its look and feel it does feature contemporary aspects that make your stay here all the more enjoyable. But, for authenticity, we keep these as subtle as possible. The Castle’s main restrooms are a prime example; with marble tops and luxury interiors they are almost as comfortable as the bedrooms.

Hire a Castle for the Weekend

Uniqueness: The only habitable Castle on Loch Ness
If you as an event manager are looking for something different that your corporate group has not experienced before, there could be nothing more rewarding than seeing the reaction of your team to the first sight of Aldourie; be it the wooded entrance, the deer bouncing through the woodland or the tall turreted castle itself. Everything about the Scottish Estate is unique, from its glorious views to the atmosphere as you step inside to the fact that it features luxury bedrooms for overnight bookings.

Space for your team to enjoy
The beautiful Castle is hidden away from view, near to the main roads and networks but from these roads it is nowhere to be seen.  Despite this proximity to the local amenities and transport links Aldourie Castle is located well within a private 500 acre parkland, away from the noise of the busy traffic and instead surrounded by wildlife, nature and tranquillity. The peaceful and spacious environment at Aldourie makes it the ideal venue for important meetings, product launches and events and gives every one of our guests the chance to think and breathe. So why not call today and hire a castle for the weekend for your corporate event, or alternatively fill in our online form.

 


Aldourie Castle History; Scottish Highlands, Clans & House Parties

The Highlands: from frightening wilderness to tourist trap

Aldourie Castle is located on Strath Dores’ low lying rolling grounds, between Loch Ness’ southern shore and the steep sides of the Glen leading up onto Drumashie Moor. People have lived in this area of the Highlands for thousands of years. There is so much here today to explore and enjoy but it has not always been this way. This mesmerising castle has seen a lot of history and in the process undergone substantial changes. Originally starting life as a laird’s mansion house, Aldourie began its story in a time when terror reigned during the Highland clan system. As the hills around it transformed so did Aldourie itself, only eventually achieving castle status in the 19th Century.

To understand the reasons for the transformation of the property from house to castle it is necessary to understand the forces in play in the Highlands at that time. As the Highlands trudged through bleak wilderness into tourist-appealing rustic idyll thus was born the Highland Sporting Estate and the Scottish baronial castle.

Aldourie a Highland Sporting Estate Aldourie Castle History
Aldourie a Highland Sporting Estate

The earliest part of the building was built by Alexander Macintosh of Kyllachie in the 17th Century whose family’s clan had held land in the Findhorn valley about 12 miles east of Aldourie. Although the old Scottish clan society proved to be a stable, lasting and fair way of living there was an equal measure of uneasiness amongst the Highlands that came with this way of ruling. Each clan had a chief to whom the people owed allegiance and he in turn could call on them to fight in his private army when required.  Often disputes would break out with neighbouring clans over boundaries or disputed chieftainships. This wild untamed and frightening land was governed by people of the same description and this was the reason few Lowland Scots or English ever ventured across the Highland line, leaving it all for the indulgence of the Highlanders for many years to come.

Alexander Macintosh was a real Highland character who led his clan to battle on several occasions. He was responsible for the first phase of construction at Aldourie in around 1622, a modest two-storey building with a few rooms and an attic. On Alexander’s death the property passed to his nephew William VIII of Kyllachie, who already owned a lot of land in the area, and in turn to the latter man’s son, Donald IXth of Kyllachie, in 1655. In 1667 there was a record of a Donald McIntosh of Aldowrie’ showing that the house had been built to a standard that was rated important enough to be recorded in his name. One of Donald’s daughters, Katherine, married John Barbour in 1700, who gave the title ‘of Aldourie’ to himself although his acquisition of the property did not officially happen until 1733.

Drumashie Moor ancient village settlement Aldourie Castle History
Drumashie Moor ancient village settlement

An event which would make history was on its way…

The Battle of Culloden in 1746 marked the defeat of the old Highland clan system. The British government could no longer tolerate a radical, independent minded and repeatedly rebellious people living in its northern lands. The Highlanders were subsequently brought into line; new laws forbade them to keep weapons of any kind and even to wear Highland dress – a deliberate move to quash an ancient culture. At the same time, Fort George was built and other measures taken to ensure that peace reined across the Highlands.

Around 1754, still in its modest form of ‘mansion’ house, Aldourie was sold by the Barbour family to William Fraser WS of Erchitt and Balnain. William’s daughter Anne married Alexander Tytler in 1776 and as was custom among the high classes of the time they merged surnames. By the 19th Century the old clan system had been consigned to history books, many chiefs had forfeited their estates or sold up and former clan lands were changing hands fast to new breed of landlord. These new owners had a real interest in the land from an economic or recreational perspective but little interest in, or loyalty to, the people, including their history or culture.

Alexander Fraser-Tytler Aldourie Castle History
Alexander Fraser-Tytler

Entrepreneurial landowners saw economic opportunity in wool and soon sheep were growing in the Highlands. The wool boom did not last but by the time it finished the Highlands had been transformed and the dawn of tourism was beginning. The new Highlands brought curious travellers to see what all the fuss was about, including famous writers such as Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell in the 1770s, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. Their writing changed people’s views of the Highlands from terrifying baron land to a wild, romantic and rustic place. The icing on the cake came in the form of royal approval when Queen Victoria and her new husband Prince Albert started holidaying in the Highlands in 1842, ultimately buying Balmoral Castle in 1848.  What the Queen did, society followed, and aristocrats flocked north to buy their own Highland estates to hunt, shoot and fish.  However, they competed this time not in the shape of war but instead vying for attention in the form of spectacular house parties in the most impressive houses…or castles.

The Fraser-Tytler family owned Aldourie for some generations and by the 1830s the family, an influential set of lawyers and historians, were amongst the highest ranks of Scottish and Highland gentlemen. It was only natural they would want their home to reflect their status and the growing interest in the land as a sporting and social playground. And so began the build to transform a house into a more comfortable home that would define their power, position and taste. The first of four new building phases of Aldourie Castle was completed in 1839 and the rest, they say, is history…

The Highlands working farms Aldourie Castle History
The Highlands working farms

The Fraser-Tytler family owned Aldourie Castle until it was necessary to sell to the late Mrs Neil Fraser-Tytler’s husband’s cousin, Colonel Angus Cameron. Colonel Cameron died in 2001 and his widow decided to sell the Aldourie the following year and move to Inverness. However, the family retained some of the estate and is still active locally. Today, ever patient Aldourie remains a private sporting estate, now famous in its own right as the only habitable castle on Loch Ness, and is regularly hired out for exclusive house parties. The beautiful property, hidden away amidst the tall trees, has been through many changes but will always maintain a strong, justifiable sense of pride in its surrounding Highland legacy.


Outdoor activities for your Scottish castle stay

Of all the guests who take the castle over as their own home for a few days, a week or even longer, it is very rare that they don’t organise some sort of outdoor activity, especially in the summer months. Of course, because Aldourie offers the best in hospitality, it is our staff that does the organising of such events; our castle guests are welcome to state how they wish to spend their time at Aldourie and we in turn grant them their wishes and put in place the activities they request.

Aldourie prides itself on a service of excellence and so it goes without saying that we use only the most professional and quality local suppliers to deliver any event or activity for exclusive parties of guests at the castle. We have built relationships with key companies who we can rely on for all outdoor activities, however unusual they may be. In fact, because Aldourie is so unique and spectacular a place, the more outlandish the activity the better!

4. Aldourie Castle from Loch Ness Scottish castle
Aldourie Castle guests can enjoy exclusive outdoor activities

500 acres of private land secluded in its own picturesque country setting yet just a few miles from Inverness, main roads and the airport has quite an appeal for guests wanting to arrange outdoor activities. Why? Well, it could be because a group of corporate directors are staying at the castle and they require some downtime from their important meetings, so a little boat ride on Loch Ness is just the ticket. Or, a large company has opened a new division and is wanting to train up their newest recruits and build relationships amongst staff, so team building activities in the parkland are often a popular choice. On a completely different scale, a family reunion is taking place in the castle over the course of a weekend the parents wish to put on a host of child orientated park activities to give the children things to do during their stay. The parents will no doubt join in too.

Aldourie Castle Activities Scottish castle
Archery activity days with an authentic Castle backdrop

It’s quite evident how versatile the Scottish Highland estate can be for different groups of guests who are staying at the unique baronial castle, but how varied can the castle parkland become to cater for an array of different types of outdoor activities and events?

To start with, Aldourie Castle is exceptionally place for a residential stay property and takes pride of place just metres from the southern shoreline of the infamous Loch Ness. This, to anyone looking to take over an historic castle with grounds in Scotland, is a key attribute of Aldourie. Boat trips on Loch Ness are a popular choice for exclusive stay guests who wish to experience the fabulous views across the Highlands and breathe in the fresh water’s air. Boat trips are also a must for any group stay at the castle hoping to catch a glimpse of Nessie the notorious Loch Ness Monster, who only recently showed her face as she glided by Aldourie to take in the spectacular night time view of the medieval castle (we do have a photo to prove it). Boat trips on Loch Ness are available exclusively for our castle guests and they board directly from Aldourie Pier. We use the renowned company Cruise Loch Ness for the best boat rides of the famous water.

Activities Aldourie Castle Scottish castle
Boat trips on Loch Ness

The woodland on the Scottish country estate is simply great for exploring; filled to the brim with mystery and adventure, it is the ideal playground for children and dogs. The tall woods cater for endless family fun time during Aldourie Castle stays and with Loch Ness Lizzie, (Aldourie’s very own Flatcoated Retriever), always around and ready to greet a fellow playmate, there is company even for your family pet! Here in nature’s wilderness guests are encouraged to make their own fun but for specific activities and requirements the Aldourie team can always call on the professionals.

The Scottish Highlands Scottish castle
The Scottish Highlands

The Highlands’ glorious and ethereal backdrop is yet another reason why guests choose Aldourie as their favoured location for both traditional and modern outdoor activities. The aptly named Boots & Paddles offer an array of water and land based activities; from the authentic Highland Games and the active Segway to Walk on Water Balls, Kayaking and Canoeing. All these activities take place on the Aldourie Estate itself and are available for the guests who take the castle for private hire for any length of stay. There are areas of the parkland that are quite flat and therefore ideal for Segway rides, tours and experience days;the personal transporter ride that is becoming increasingly popular for team building and team activity days. The entire atmosphere that is conjured from the combination of the deer dotted parkland and the magical backdrop of Aldourie Castle brings historic outdoor activities, such as archery, to life. Guests can imagine the battle fields of long ago as they aim and fire at their targets. The photograph opportunities for these types of activities are, needless to say, an added bonus.

There are plenty of things do outside on this incredible castle estate in Scotland. The estate walls and the woodland keep within them so much potential to explore and enjoy: from the giant tree house from which children can see the immediate shoreline, Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands beyond, to the gated family graveyard and beautiful formal gardens. Imagination and creativity run wild at Aldourie which is why so many of our guests return on a regular basis whether that is to stay in the castle, attend a celebration event or simply to enjoy a relaxing holiday in one of the four self-catering cottages on the Scottish estate.

Walk on Water Balls Scottish castle
Walk on water balls at Aldourie Castle

The Aldourie team is proud of the quality of service it provides and therefore chooses only to work with suppliers of the same status and who are proven to provide exceptional service and deliver quality products and assistance for outdoor land and water based activities. We use the same trusted suppliers over again for various events, castle house parties and residential stays as we can be sure in the knowledge they are attending to our guests as attentively as we do at the castle. As a result their time in the great outdoors is as happy and relaxed as can be and can only add to what is always an incredible Aldourie experience.

The outdoor activities that can be arranged by the castle are available for guests staying exclusively at the castle only and cannot be arranged for holiday cottage guests or for members of the public.

We are pleased to work with the following trusted suppliers to deliver the activities detailed above:

http://www.cruiselochness.com/
http://www.boots-n-paddles.co.uk/


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.

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