What’s New

We Won Gold!

Earlier this year, we commenced our journey with Green Tourism and were thrilled to receive the Silver Award. Since then, we have embarked on many changes and improvements on our way towards Gold. To be awarded Gold, you don’t need to implement massive changes like solar panels (although we are looking into them!) Instead, you need to demonstrate commitment and efforts to building a green and sustainable business.  So we are super thrilled to have received the Gold Award in November 2018.

Green logo for Gold Award

Green Tourism Gold Award

Award holders need to champion investment and improvement in the local community. We use a lot of our time and energy to help build stronger communities. For example, Jane regularly bakes cakes for, and volunteers at, the the local community cafe in Kirkhill. We also have to help conserve the local economy by introducing and encouraging guests to try genuine local experiences; and to source products sustainably and ethically. And through all this, we are committed to finding new ways to reduce our footprint, and to lessen the impact we have on our environment.

Green Tourism is the largest and most established sustainable certification programme in the world. Green Tourism exists to help tourism businesses ensure their long-term viability, both environmentally and economically; and to help holiday makers make clear ethical, sustainable and responsible decisions about where to holiday or visit.

We are looking into even more changes and improvements to continue our journey. And we will always encourage guests to think about being eco-friendly. Check out our Green page for our green credentials.

 

Getting Immersed in Military History at Fort George

On a very windy October day, we took ourselves off to Fort George, just outside Ardersier, near Inverness. We were amazed by how big this fortification is! Built in the wake of the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the fort is still used as a British Army establishment.

Fort George entrance gate

Fort George entrance gate

Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated at Culloden, so George II created this imposing fort against further Jacobite unrest. But after taking 22 years to complete, the Jacobite thread had subsided. Quick side note: combine this with a visit to Culloden Battlefield.

There is so much to see and do at Fort George, we were really impressed and truly great value at £9.00 for an adult ticket. The main rampart is more than 1km in length and a super walk with great views – many across the Moray Firth, which in itself brings an opportunity to spot the dolphins!

Cannon over Chanonry Point

Cannon over Chanonry Point

It has a great Highlanders Museum – Scotland’s largest regimental museum outside of Edinburgh.  The museum covers three floors of Fort George’s former Lieutenant Governors’ House and has over 20,000 artefacts and over 10,000 documents and photographs.

The garrison chapel at the far end of the fort was worth the walk. Although you can’t actually get to it, look over the ramparts and see the dog cemetery – one of only two in Scotland – where regimental dogs have been buried.

There are lots of plaques around the entire fort, giving the history and also explaining about the weapons, cannons, barrack rooms, living quarters, and showcasing the story of what life would have been like for the soldiers serving. All the garrison buildings, artillery defences, bayoneted muskets, and swords provide an incredible view into 18th century military life.

We took the audio headsets for free.  Many of the plaques have a corresponding number which you hit to get the audio story. Very useful and highly informative.

Bastion at Fort George

Bastion at Fort George

There’s a little shop too and a café.  The fort is very exposed on the peninsula overlooking the Moray Firth.  It was incredibly windy the day we went so be wary of this. An amazing place to visit.

Take a Walk on the (local) Wild Side

One of the best things about our location is the endless amount of walks you can do nearby. This morning we decided to drive 10 minutes to near Beauly to do Loch nam Bonnoch (courtesy of WalkHighlands). This is a 4 miles / 6.5 km walk, mainly flat but with stunning, incredible views. You can make the walk much longer too by exploring the myriad of forestry paths.  This is a very quiet and little known trek! In wet weather, some of the paths can be muddy.

It can be quite hard to park to start the walk, but our Walks Near & Far folder in the Steading will give you good advice on this.  Most of the uphill is at the start, but you are rewarded behind you, with views back to the Beauly Firth.

On taking the first corner uphill, you will be stopped in your tracks with the view over towards the easterly peaks of the Glen Affric and Strathfarrar mountains.

Looking over towards Strathfarrar and Glen Affric mountains

You wouldn’t believe you are only a few miles from Beauly when you see the remote and rugged view ahead of you. Continuing along the track you will soon get your first glimpse of Loch nam Bonnach – a very peaceful stretch of water hidden amongst the lower moors.

Loch nam Bonnoch

You will see Ben Wyvis looking behind the loch. You then enter a forestry area before continuing into a little fairy glen with a river alongside. After crossing a stile, you are now heading back towards the start.

It is preferred you keep dogs on a lead for this walk, mainly because there is often deer about.  Today we saw a whole herd just as we were walking past the loch. We’re letting you into this little known secret walk, but sssh, keep it to yourself please!

Emma and Loch nam Bonnoch