About the Area

There is no shortage of places to visit or things to do in our part of the Highlands. There is a great mix for tourists and walkers alike. Here are a few of our favourite places, from distilleries to viewpoints, great walks, to historical landmarks, wildlife sightings and activities. We’ve added in ‘dog friendly’ information too. We hope you enjoy all the Highlands has to offer!

Wide angled picture of Inverness and the river Ness

Inverness & Surrounding Areas

Pinewood Steading is a 20 minute drive to Inverness, “the Highland Capital”.  The name Inverness comes from the Scottish Gaelic “Inbhir Nis” which means mouth of the River Ness. It has an old city centre for shopping, along with the more modern Eastgate Centre. Inverness is pretty lively with a lot of great bars, bistros, cafes and restaurants. There are plenty of things to do and see in the city.

  • explore-inverness.com – a great site for places to visit, where to eat and shop
  • City Sightseeing – hop on and hop off bus tours of Inverness
  • Inverness Botanic Gardens – an oasis of calm and beauty within walking distance of the busy city centre. Free entry
  • Ness Islands – a walk around the islands, about 3 miles which is perfect for an afternoon walk or evening stroll
  • Dolphin Watching this is amazing and one of the most popular places to see dolphins is at Chanonry Point between Fortose and Rosemarkie on the Black Isle. Visit this link too if you would like to go on a dolphin cruise. It’s considered to be one of the best places in the world to see Bottlenose dolphins.  You can see seals too. Combine this with a walk up the beach and sea glass hunting – you can find a treasure trove here!
  • A Jacobite Tour – Take a Loch Ness cruise or depart from Tomnahurich Bridge through the Caledonian Canal. Many cruises on offer including a visit to Urquhart Castle. Jump aboard a boat and go hunting for Nessie! Well-behaved dogs are welcome on board the Inspiration and Reflection cruises free of charge
  • Fishing – there are some very good local places nearby for fly fishing, for both salmon and trout

Other Places to Visit & Towns

  • Nairn BeachNairn Beach with a log on the white sandy beach – wonderful sands with excellent golf courses nearby
  • The Black Isle – this can be a great day trip out visiting Avoch, Rosemarkie, Fortrose and Cromarty and stopping off to see the dolphins at Chanonry Point.  Park at the point and take a wee bimble up the beach to the cafe at Rosemarkie and back again – watch out for dolphins and seals on the way! Then at Cromarty, check out the wonderful shops and cafes
  • Landmark Forest Adventure Park – a forest adventure park an hour’s drive away, for a great day out for families
  • The Isle of Skye – worth a day trip with magnificent views of the Cuillin Mountains (take a hike there?), a trip to the Talisker Distillery
  • Findhorn Centre – eco-friendly arts and crafts village established as an alternative community over 50 years ago. If you are interested in wellbeing, mindfulness and alternative lifestyle, this is for you

History & Castles

  • Urquhart Castlesitting beside Loch Ness by Drumnadrochit, a castle in a glorious setting with cafe
  • Culloden Battlefield – a tribute to the battle which took place in April 1746, Culloden has an impressive visitor centre and exciting interactive exhibition. They do not allow you to bring your dog into the visitor centre but dogs can however go out on the battlefield. They must be kept on a lead on the battlefield itself.  If anyone does want to let the dogs off the lead then there is a field behind the centre where this is possible and where there is also seating for their restaurant should you wish to stop and have a coffee etc.
  • Cawdor Castle – a splendid house with gardens – home of the Cawdor family to this day. They often put on events (outdoor theatrical productions), so worth checking out their website
  • Dunrobin Castle – like a French château with a wonderful selection of paintings, tapestries and furniture, with the route to Dunrobin through some spectacular scenery
  • Eilean Donan Castle – perhaps one of the most well-known, iconic castles in Scotland, made famous by the movie Highlander, and also used in James Bond’s, The World is Not Enough.  A 13th century castle with visitor centre and restaurant
  • Fort George – Inverness. One of the most outstanding fortifications in Europe. It was built in the wake of the Battle of Culloden (1746) as a secure base for King George II’s army. Lots to see and do here. Your well behaved dog is allowed to accompany you into the fort grounds but is not allowed into any of the buildings.  The coffee shop within the fort has outside seating where your dog is welcome to sit with you
  • Gordon Castle – in the heart of the beautiful Speyside, Gordon Castle has a wonderful walled garden, restaurant and shop with their own gardens and provisions
  • Blair Castle and Falls of Bruar – next door to House of Bruar, a super place to shop

Mountains, Walks & Activities

As well as some super little walks right from the door, we also have great walking areas a short drive away (like Reelig, Abriachan and Ben Wyvis).  Slightly further away, there is Strathconon, Strathfarrar and Glen Affric.  Walk Highlands has some great walks listed on their website – Beauly and Glen Affric walks

  • Abriachan – close to Pinewood Steading, this is a local haven of short walks.  There’s a Peace Trail, children’s play area, tree house, and bird watching hide.  There is also a classroom which holds regular forestry, woodwork and art classes.  You can also take longer walks from here, with views over Loch Ness, and it joins up with the Great Glen Way
  • Reelig Glen (Upper and Lower) – just a mile or two from Pinewood and a great area for local walks, and one of the best places to spot red squirrels!
  • Ben Wyvis – the closest Munro to Pinewood Steading and dominating our view, Ben Wyvis is a vast and sprawling mountain. The ascent to its spacious plateau is reasonably straightforward in good summer conditions by Munro standards and there are very extensive views from the summit
  • Glen Affric Forest Park – a step back in time, walking through the natural trees of Scotland in The Great Wood of Caledonia.  A chance to see deer, buzzards, pine marten and an abundance of other wildlife
  • Cairngorms National Park – including the highest and most extensive range of arctic mountain landscape anywhere in the British Isles. Walks in the park range from easy rambles to more challenging hikes.  Alternatively take the funicular railway to the top!
  • Great Glen Way – stretching 117km from coast to coast across the Highlands, linking the main centres of Fort William and the regional capital of Inverness. If you don’t want to walk it all, you can walk a section of it near Pinewood Steading (over at Abriachan)
  • In Your Element – For the active folks amongst you, check out In Your Element – outdoor activities run by some locals who offer amazing outdoor experiences across Scotland. In our Inverness and Loch Ness area, for up to 4 people check out the scheduled activities which are designed for smaller groups. They have price per head sessions on set dates with set times, eg canoe trips on Loch Ness, Early Morning Canoe Safari on the River Beauly, and archery at Fort Augustus https://iye.scot/inverness-loch-ness/ They also offer canoe or kayak hire for day trips on Loch Ness or the river Beauly.  You can find out more here. https://iye.scot/canoe-kayak-equipment/

Shopping

Inverness of course!

  • Beauly – a short, 10 minute drive away, Beauly is the nearest place for shops.  It has 2 hotels that serve food, a butchers, baker, greengrocers and lovely deli/coffee shop called Corner on the Square.  Beauly also has a range of takeaway options, including an Indian restaurant, a fish and chips shop, and a Chinese takeaway
  • Food and Farmer’s Markets – there’s an abundance of markets in our area, especially on the Black Isle with 3 every month rotating between Cromarty, Culbokie and North Kessock. They are put on by Transition Black Isle. They provide lunches at every market, and are great places to pick up local produce. There is also a Farmer’s Market held in Inverness city centre on the first Saturday of every month, running from Feb to Dec.  It is open from 9am to 4pm. From bread and patisseries to seafood and meat, cheeses and home made preserves, there are also a number of craft stalls, as well as nurseries supplying locally grown plants
  • Brodie Country Fare – another great Highland shopping experience with food and drink, clothing boutique, men’s and ladies wear, gifts and souvenirs, with a lovely restaurant
  • House of Bruar – one of Scotland’s great shopping experiences – everything for the home and you, with a food hall, ladies wear, men’s wear, sporting goods, country living and present shop, and knitwear hall.  There’s an excellent restaurant too
  • Johnstons of Elgin – Cashmere Heritage Centre – fabulous sweaters, suits, cardigans, accessories and homeware.  You can have a free guided mill tour and relax in the coffee shop

Whisky

  • Glen Ord Distillery – on the edge of the Black Isle and the distillery closest to Pinewood, take a tour of the distillery and watch the distillers at work creating a magical malt whisky
  • Tomatin Distillery – visitor centre has tours and extensive range of whiskies – with tastings for those not driving
  • Glenfiddich Distillery – along the Whisky Trail there are many distilleries to visit – Glenfiddich is probably the most famous
  • Glenmorangie – we are not short of distilleries near Pinewood Steading, with Glenmorangie situated in Tain

Places to Eat

  • Oakwood – one of our favourites, about a 20 minute drive. Not open on a Monday or Tuesday.  A small, family-run restaurant with an extensive menu and daily specials focusing on traditional Scottish fayre.  They do a great choice of vegan and vegetarian foods, gluten free etc. but let them know beforehand if you need vegan
  • Bunchrew House – on the banks of the Beauly Firth with spectacular views.  A comfortable drawing room or cocktail lounge with log fires, and Michelin-quality food – at Michelin prices
  • Fiddlers – an award winning whisky selection with pub food in Drumnadrochit
  • Loch Ness Inn – in Drumnadrochit, a great pub with super food and a log fire for those cold winter nights!  Copes well with vegetarian and vegan food too, so one of our favourites
  • The Benleva Hotel – also in Drumnadrochit, good hotel with restaurant and bar area, a very local feel to it.  Does good vegetarian and vegan food too.  In the summer, can get very busy on weekends
  • The Clachnaharrry Inn – in Clachnaharry, as you enter Inverness from Pinewood. They are renowned as the most dog-friendly pub/restaurant in Inverness and make your dog most welcome.  Have a great pub quiz on a Wednesday night too
  • Rocpool Restaurant – in Inverness, so only 20 minutes away by car.  A buzzy and contemporary brasserie on the banks of the River Ness.  Booking is essential.  Serves up great vegetarian and vegan food
  • Souter Creek – an hour’s drive from Pinewood, but we think it’s worth it, especially if you tie in a visit to Cromarty. Situated by the harbour in Cromarty, Sutor Creek is a Michelin recommended restaurant.  They serve Scottish seafood, have seasonal menus and the best wood-fired pizzas! They serve both lunch and dinner but you should book in advance to avoid disappointment
  • Corner on the Square – Beauly.  A great little cafe and deli opening 7 days a week.  Serves everything from soup and sandwiches to baked potatoes, to quiche and salad, to daily specials.  They use very interesting ingredients too.  A small selection of vegetarian, vegan food and cakes
  • The Muir Hub – a good little cafe in Muir of Ord located within the newly opened (Jan 2017) community building.  Soups, sandwiches and light meals at lunchtime
  • The Bad Girl Bakery – Muir of Ord.  Renown for its cakes! Soups, sandwiches, light meals at lunchtime.  Dog friendly too although it can be busy, so late afternoon may be best if you are taking your dog. They sell vegan cake on a Friday
  • Jammy Piece – Inverness by the Caledonian Canal. Combine this with a walk up the canal, and come back to a hearty bowl of soup (£3), great sandwiches, baked potatoes and cakes.  Caters for gluten free, vegetarian and vegan
  • The Benleva – in Drumnadrochit.  This place is over 300 years old but recently underwent a major refurbishment! They are dog friendly. They have a beautiful tree-lined driveway, including a 400-year-old former hanging-tree and a beer garden to the rear.
  • Cafe Eighty2 – in Drumnadrochit. Serves mainly vegetarian and vegan food. One of our faves!
  • Brockie’s Bar – Kiltarlity. Music venue, bar in the evenings and Sunday Carvery