Findlater is a ruined castle in Aberdeenshire and only a couple miles from Cullen. It is the old seat of the Earls of Findlater and Seafield, sitting on a 50 foot-high cliff overlooking the Moray Firth.
Distance: 1 mile Time: 1hr Level: Easy but may be more difficult if the path is muddy some elevation. Terrain: Grass track and narrow possibly muddy path. Access: Arrive by car heading east from Cullen on the A98 turn left up road sign posted to Findlater Castle. The road takes a sharp corner to the right then take the next left after the first house. Take a left at the house and there is parking round the back of the large barns. Postcode is AB45 2UD. Please keep dogs on leads at all time.
Route: Once parked take the track to the right past the back of the barns. The track will turn left, keep going till you come to the junction.
You can take a left at the junction to head along to the Findlater Doocot or head straight on to the Castle.
There is a fab viewing area which if you don’t want to go any further you can get a great view and some cracking photos.
Carefully take the path down to watching where you walk and explore the area.
Why don’t you finish off with a visit to the stoney beach to the side for the full Findlater experience.
We had not been to Dalraddy Holiday Park for a really long time so we thought we would try it out again. The campsite is located just a few miles from Aviemore with lots of activities on and off site.
The site itself is large with chalets, residential caravans, seasonal & touring pitches as well as tent pitches. Around the site there is a main toilet block with showers, dishwashing and laundry. There is a smaller shower block as well as other small toilet blocks. At the reception you can find a small shop stocking the essentials. There is a great play park for the kids and an abundance of picnic benches. If you are in a group there is a fantastic bbq area if you want to get everyone together.
At the entrance of the site you will find Alvie Forest Food a fantastic food van with beautifully prepared dishes and a recent addition of a coffee cart called Cabin coffee. Quad biking treks are available to book at the gate there are plenty of other activities and it is worth checking out the Alvie Estate website for something that suits you.
For me Dalraddy is a great place to get walking and biking. There is a fantastic walk to the Duke of Gordon Monument. You can walk/cycle along the Speyside way. We headed to Kincraig and Loch Insh and got a pint at the Boathouse before heading back.
If you would like to explore the area there is plenty to do within a 10-15 mile drive.
Highland Wildlife park is around 5 miles away. At the park you can drive through the reserve and see the polar bears, snow leopards, amur tigers and many other animals then visit the wildlife discovery centre. Entry fees do apply.
Loch Insh Outdoor Centre is around 3 1/2 miles. Where you find a large selection of watersports as well as tubing, skating and archery. Prices vary depending on activity.
Cairngorm Mountain Railway is around 12 miles away. The railway has only just reopened after being closed for some time. You don’t have to take part in snowsports to go up the railway you can just take a trip up to enjoy the views and have coffee and cake at The Ptarmigan restaurant. Return tickets can be purchased at Cairngorm Mountain resort.
Strathspey Steam Railway is only 4 miles away at Aviemore and is a fantastic day out for everyone including your dogs. You are taking along the line from Aviemore to Broomhill and return in a beautiful steam locomotive. There is an option to enjoy a light lunch or afternoon tea along the way. Booking available online or at the station.
This is only a very small selection of activities available!
Dalraddy is a great site to visit with everything you need and so much to do just on your doorstep!
This is a stunning walk with epic views of the Cairngorm’s. Great walk if you want just a wee hill to climb rather than a munro!
Distance: Around 3.75 miles Time: 1 1/2-2hrs Level: Easy with some steep sections Terrain: Well maintained path, tar, grass track and woodland track. Access: Arrive by car parking at the entrance to Dalraddy campsite PH22 1QB.
Route: Starting in the carpark go to your left through the quad bike area and head under the railway bridge. Take a left after the bridge and head through the gate. Keep going till you reach the junction take a right here and head along the tarred road.
You will reach a fork in the road take the left hand track. Go up the track till you reach the gate and the grass park. Follow the path to the left edge of the park till you reach the opening on your left and the track that takes you in to the woods.
Follow the track till you reach the fork. Take the left fork here and continue straight on. Keep a look out for the Waterloo cairn to your right that is worth stopping at. The cairn was erected by Marquis of Huntly, August 11, 1815 in memory of Robert Macara of 42nd Royal Highlanders, also Of Col. John Cameron of 92nd or Gordon Highlanders and their brave countrymen who glorious fell at the battle of Waterloo June 1815.
Not long after the Waterloo cairn the monument will come in to view. The track does go down hill a little before climbing back up.
The track winds its way through the trees till you come to the Duke of Gordon Monument that commemorates the last Duke of Gordon who died in 1836. Once you have explored the area you return the way you came taking in the beautiful views.
Kingston drift wood hut was built by the locals and is an amazing place to visit. There is something added to it every time I visit!
Distance: 1 1/2 miles Time: 1hr Level: Easy Terrain: Grass track and pebble beach Access: Arrive by car, parking is available at corner Kingston road and Beach road. There is a no 34 Stagecoach bus from Elgin.
Route: This is a fantastic short walk leaving from the car park take the track to the left that runs past the back of the houses. Follow the track right along and it will narrow down to a path.
Keep a look out for the ducks paddling in the water to your right.
When you get to the play park turn left and head back towards the beach hut. It is pebbles all the way so not the easiest to walk on so wear good footwear.
When you get to the beach hut make sure you explore it inside and outside and see if you find the visitor book. Please be respectful while you are there the locals after spent a lot of time and effort to build the hut,
After exploring the area return the same way as you came.
I ventured a wee bit further afield for a change, to Ullapool which we visit on a regular basis. Ullapool is on the North Coast 500 route and is one of the larger towns in North West Scotland with a busy ferry port and harbour. There is a great selection of places to eat and stay. Overlooking Ullapool is a hill called Cnoc na Croiche also known as Ullapool Hill which is a short but steep climb with very rewarding views.
Distance: 2.25 miles Time: 1hr Level: Easy with some steep parts. Terrain: Mix of pavements, well walked paths and uneven paths. Access: Arrive by car, parking is available in the long stay car park beside Tesco IV26 2XB. There is a regular stagecoach bus from 42 Inverness
Route: I am starting my route from the harbour on Shore Street in the centre of Ullapool. Cross the road at the boat trip and bike hire cabins and head up Quay Street past the Fish and Chip shop, try and resist the smell that is guaranteed to make you hungry. Take the third road on the right called Market Street and follow it to the end, before turning left and heading up Mill Road.
On your right, just after you have passed Highland Stoneware and Broom Court, you will see a gate and a signpost for Ullapool Hill. Go through the gate and you will start the short steep climb, but there are plenty of benches to stop and catch your breath. You will pass a path to your right, ignore it, but not long after you will take a turn to the left and you will head further up the hill.
You will come to a bench with a path on the left and one behind, take the path behind the bench. The path becomes rougher so watch your step. You will see a pile of stones to the right but keep going along the path till you reach a slightly overgrown viewpoint stone, although the views are great here they are better further along the route.
Just past the pile of stones that is to your left, the path will become rougher again and you will need to watch your step to get you down to the bench, where in my opinion you get the best views of Ullapool and Lochbroom.
If it isn’t windy this is also a great spot to stop for a snack and wee rest before you head back down the hill. If you time it right with the ferry times, you may see it coming in or leaving, or if you are really lucky, you may even see one of the cruise ships that visit Ullapool.
You will see a rough path to the right, take it and it very soon returns you to the bench before the viewpoint. Take a left here and head back down the path.
Take the path on the left just beside the viewpoint, this will take you to the best view.
Keep going back down the track, a little after the left turn in the path you will see an opening that takes you down to a wooden bridge. Once over the footbridge you carry on descending till houses come into view and you come to a gate. Once through the gate follow the road and you will quickly find yourself at the back of The Royal Hotel on Shore Street.
I would recommend crossing the road here to admire the boats in the harbour. It is a great chance to get some more lovely photos before returning to your starting point and time for a well-earned Fish and Chips.
We have been going to the Red Squirrel campsite for a good few years now and it never disappoints. The campsite is located in the heart of Glencoe and a great base for exploring the area.
The site itself is suitable for tents and off grid campervans they also have a couple bell tents that can be hired too. Around the site there is shower, toilet and dish washing facilities. There are no electric hookup but you can charge small devices in the office if required. There are plenty of firepits across the site that campers can use and firewood can be bought onsite.
Down by the river there is a fantastic area for wild swimming that is usually busy on hot days with the young and old going in for a dook! When we visited there was a hot food van and an ice cream van came round at night. There is a cracking shop & petrol station called Claymore Filling station a few miles along the road that stocks everything I mean everything its like an aladins cave.
Just a short 10 minute walk from the site you will find the Clachaig Inn which is a cracking place for drinks, food and often have musicians playing in the evening.
There is also a cracking walk to Signal rock (this is said to be the place where the MacDonalds gathered when faced with danger during the Glencoe massacre). If you fancy a hike you can head up the Pap of Glencoe or explore the beautiful Glencoe Lochan.
If you are like us and you want to explore the area there is so much to do within a 10-15 mile drive.
Glencoe Visitors Centre is around a 3 mile drive where you can learn more about the history and scenery in the area, outside there is beautifully contructed turf house and amazing views of the mountains. Entry fees do apply or free to National trust members.
The Lost Valley is a fantastic walk and starts a 3.5 mile drive away. This is a beautiful walk into the lost valley where the Macdonald are said to have hid their rustled cattle. This walk isn’t just a wee walk in the park so be prepared but well worth it.
Glen Etive is around a 12 miles drive and a beautiful scenic drive with various spots that you could have a dook in the clear waters of the River Etive. You could stop of the ionic spot that James Bond stopped in Skyfall.
Kinlochleven is around a 10 mile drive and is a beautiful villiage with shops, cafes and pub. It is also home to the world’s largest artificial ice climbing wall, the Ice Factory. There is also a beautiful short along to Grey Mare tail waterfall.
There is so much more to do this is only a small selection and there are plenty of mountains to climb!
Red Squirrel is a fantastic site in beautiful surroundings wether you are a munro bagger or enjoy a chilled out holiday.
I headed to the beautiful Cairngorms for this walk which takes in Loch Insh, the stunning Uath Lochan’s and the River Feshie. This is a very peaceful walk in the wilderness with plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting. I had several sightings of birds of prey along the way.
Distance: 7 ¾ miles Time: 3 ½ – 4hrs Level: Easy long walk with some elevation. Terrain: Mix of forestry track and paths with a small amount of quiet road walking. Access: Arrive by car following the signposts for Kincraig/Loch Insh outdoor adventure centre PH21 1NU. I did ask permission to park at the centre. There is a regular Stagecoach No 35 bus from Aviemore which is about a 20min walk from the Outdoor centre.
Route: The walk starts off at the Loch Insh Outdoor Centre which is a fantastic facility offering a large array of activities as well as accommodation.
In the car park head down to the shore and you will see a sign for the Loch side trail which is part of the Badenoch way. This is a very well waymarked and easy to follow section with great views across the Loch and the first opportunity for wildlife spotting.
Leaving the waterside carry on following the waymarkers through the woods till you come to a road with a house opposite. Cross the road here and turn right just after the house you will find an opening to re-join the path. The path is rather narrow here but only for a short time.
Keep on the waymarked trail and you will come to a fork and take the path to the left here. There is a long straight section, the Badenoch way turns off here to the right this is where you leave the way as you will carry straight on. About 250 yards after the Badenoch way turns off , you will take a left turn where you will find red trail markers.
Here you will head up in to Farleeitter Crag where you will find a fantastic view of Loch Insh before you are looking down on the Uath Lochan’s once you have enjoyed the views the trail will start going downhill till you come to a junction take a left here after a short walk you will come to another junction where you will take a right to take you to the Lochan’s. This is a fantastic place to stop for a picnic with stunning views.
Carry on the trail before taking the next left, you come to a road. Take a right and walk along the road for a short stretch till you come to an opening to a house road end. Go into the opening and turn to your left you will find a right of way sign. Follow the sign passing by the houses. You will come to a U-shaped house, take the path to the right here. Carry on till you come to the side of the River Feshie. As you walk along the path and you will feel like you are in total wilderness with only the wildlife for company. There are plenty of opportunities if you want to dip your feet in the beautiful clear waters.
Keep following the path right along the riverside till you come to some houses then Feshie bridge on your right. You will find a path just along from the bridge to the right of the road.
Follow the path along till you reach a small car park which then leads you to the Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail which is starting to be reclaimed by nature as it was meant. The trail is worth the detour or take the path to the right which you will find is waymarked for the East Highland way. Follow the waymarkers you will come to a farm, the path will take a left before reaching a junction.
At the junction take a right joining the Badenoch way again which you will follow till you return to the Loch Insh Outdoor Centre. Which is now a perfect time for coffee and cake at the Boathouse Bar and a well-earned rest!
Starting off my new sections to my website with where I have spent the last 2 weeks. Barrow Campsite is an independent campsite situated in the beautiful countryside only a few miles out of Nairn. It is a relatively new site and ideal you if you want to explore the area or relax and put your feet up.
Onsite you will find a range of hardstanding and grass pitches with a semi wild area camping area. Also a couple glamping pods. In the summer months we usually park on the grass area but in the winter we prefer to have a hardstanding pitch with hookup. The facilities are clean and modern with toilets, showers, a dishwashing and laundry room.
Around the site there is a small kids playpark, it is very dog friendly with fantastic walks and an enclosed area with a good sized pond. I have done a bit of paddleboarding in the pond. There is a fantastic bothy with seating and a bbq area which is a great place to get together or shelter out the rain. Not far from the bothy you will find Hangman hill which is a well preserved bronze age barrow hence the name Barrow Campsite.
Nairn is only 3 1/2 miles away and if you are feeling energetic you could walk or cycle along the quiet country road. The town has a fantastic range of independent shops, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, takeaways and a leisure centre. You also will find a beautiful beach on the Moray Firth with excellent views across the water. If you would like to treat yourself you could book a spa day at the Golf View hotel. There are also excellent public transport links to Inverness.
If you are like us and you want to explore the area there is so much to do within a 10-15 mile drive.
Brodie Castle is around an 8.5 mile drive where you can have a guided tour, explore the grounds and have an excellent play area. Entry fees do apply or free to National trust members.
Cawdor Castle is around a 5 mile drive and open in the summer months. Although we have never visited it is renowned for its beautiful garden and grounds. Entry fees do apply
Fort George is around an 8 mile drive and is the mightist artillery fortification in Britian and was built in the 18th century following the defeat at Culloden. Entry fees do apply or free to Historic Scotland members.
Culloden Battlefield is around a 9 mile drive and it is the site of the bloody battle of the Jacobite rising. Although a very eery it has an excellent visitors centre and a fascinating place to go. Entry fees to the visitors centre do apply or free to National trust members.
Brodie Countryfare is around an 8.5 miles drive and is almost next door to the Castle. This is a fantastic shop to explore their extensive range of clothing, giftware and food range and you can’t leave Brodie without visiting their fantastic restaurant.
Inverness is around a 15 mile drive but if you don’t want to venture into the city there is a large retail park on the outskirts that has a good selection of shops, a cinema and a large supermarket.
This is only a small selection of places to visit that are close by, there are many more plus Barrow is a great start/end point for the fabulous North Coast 500 route.
Barrow gets a thumbs up from us we love it here and it is definitely a home from home!!!