(The) Black Isle Rich farming country with attractive seaside villages like Avoch, Fortrose and Rosemarkie (which share a fine links course and boast the award winning Groam House Museum). Cromarty is one of Scotland's best-preserved 18th century villages, and Dingwall is the county town (for Ross and Cromarty). The local auction mart attracts buyers from all over the UK.
Brora Home to the Clynelish Distillery and a wonderful James Braid golf course.
Dunrobin Castle Seat of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland, Dunrobin is still a family home as well as a visitor attraction and film location. Important collections of antique furniture and fine art adorn the inside of the castle. Outside, the gardens are a joy. And, for the more energetic, a five mile coastal walk from the castle to Brora offers superb sea and mountain views – and the opportunity to watch seals basking on the rocks.
Dornoch Cathedral Not many village churches can boast cathedral status, but this architectural gem was famous long before Madonna got married there. More recently it was used for sequences in the film of the Rosamund Pilcher novel "A Winter Solstice". The celebrated novelist has a holiday flat next door to Southlins!
Durness Home to some of the highest cliffs in Europe, and to one of the most scenic golf courses! There are some fabulous beaches in the area.
Helmsdale and the Strath of Kildonan were the scene of a gold rush in the 1860's. This was never quite on a par with Alaska or California, and the Helmsdale River is now more famous for its salmon, although locals claim the odd nugget is still to be found.
Invergordon Once a major naval base, now a deep sea harbour popular with cruise ships.
Strathpeffer A Victorian health spa, this dignified small town looks more like a Bavarian village than a Scottish community.
Tain Scotland's oldest Burgh, dating back to 1066. Tain through Time is a museum, which chronicles the past. The Glenmorangie Distillery is a must for whisky drinkers.
Ullapool Gateway to The Summer Isles, with a scenic harbour and a selection of characterful pubs and cafes. The drive across from Dornoch via Bonar Bridge is one of Scotland's most scenic routes.
Where to Eat
- Royal Golf Hotel Golfers' haven overlooking the 1st tee.
- Dornoch Castle Medieval castle with interesting and comfortable public areas.
- The Eagle Inn Pub grub at reasonable prices.
- Luigi's Bistro with agreeable atmosphere and decent food. Sensibly priced wine.
- Sutherland House Good steaks and Scottish fare at sensible prices.
- Carnegie Courthouse Atmospheric first floor café in former Sheriff’s Court Room, with log-burner and comfortable seating. Whisky Cellar, Aspen Spa and Visitor Centre on ground floor.
The Local area
- Brora - Royal Marine Hotel. Well-run hotel offering consistent quality and friendly service.
- Golspie - Ben Bhraggie Hotel. Under new management and receiving good reports.
- Trawler Restaurant. Top class fish and chips.
- Helmsdale - La Mirage Great fish and chips and quirky atmosphere!
- Portmahomack - The Oyster Catcher Café-style restaurant with good seafood, large wine list and seafront location.
- Tain - Morangie House Hotel or Mansfield House Hotel Comfortable and reliable.