Our wonderful Loch Ness self catering accommodation has no shortage of places to visit or things to do. There is a great mix for tourists and walkers alike. Here are just 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.
Inverness & Surrounding Areas
Pinewood Steading is a 20 minute drive to Inverness, “the Highland Capital”. 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 (donations requested)
- Ness Islands – A walk around the islands, about 3 miles which is perfect for an afternoon walk or evening stroll
- Dolphin Watching – This is is amazing, and one of the most popular places to see dolphins is at Chanonry Point between Fortose and Rosemarkie on the Black Isle. 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!
- Dolphin Spirit – Jump aboard the boat from Inverness and tour the Moray Firth looking for dolphins. Wheelchair accessible and dog friendly too
- 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 Beach – Wonderful sands with excellent golf courses nearby
- Embo Beach – Near Dornoch. Miles and miles of gorgeous beach and rock pools
- 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 – 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, and many well known sites like the Fairy Pools
- 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 Castle – Sitting 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 on lead can go out on the battlefield. For off lead walking, there is a field behind the centre. 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. Bird of prey demonstrations. The route to Dunrobin takes you 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
- 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. We have a folder of our favourite walks in the Steading. 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. It is a recognised Dark Sky Discovery Site. 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 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 – Considered to be the most beautiful glen in Scotland. Breathtaking scenery. 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)
- Liquid Footprints – Very family (and dog!) friendly range of outdoor experiences from canoeing on the lochs, sea kayaking, gorge scrambling, and mountain guiding. Why not combine a canoe trip with a luxury picnic or afternoon tea!
- Explore Highland – Based on the Caledonian Canal in Inverness offering a wide range of paddlesport trips, courses and guided adventure holidays for all ages, fitness levels and abilities across mainly Highland areas
- Kirkhope Mountaineering – A bespoke mountain guiding and adventure company based in Fort William. They are ideally situated to help you get the most out of your outdoor experience and are available for guiding year round throughout Scotland
- In Your Element – Outdoor activities run by locals who offer amazing outdoor experiences across Scotland. For our Inverness and Loch Ness area, check out the scheduled activities (up to 4 people) 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. They also offer canoe or kayak hire for day trips on Loch Ness or the river Beauly
Scotland, the home of golf. Golfers are spoilt for choice in our area of the Highlands.
- Castle Stuart – A championship links course overlooking the Moray Firth, the Kessock Bridge, Fort George and Chanonry Lighthouse
- Nairn Golf Club – Traditional Scottish Golf Links Course created from a Highland wilderness of gorse and heather, and tests the talents of professional and amateur alike. It is now one of the best courses in Scotland, and has hosted a large number of important championships
- Nairn Dunbar Golf Links – A Championship Links course, also on the Moray Firth giving stunning scenery
- Royal Dornoch – Spellbinding, and many golfers from all over the world make the pilgrimage to this natural links at some point in their lives. It is often quoted as one of the must-play courses. Dogs are permitted on leads
- Fortrose & Rosemarkie – Located on the Chanonry Peninsula in the ‘Black Isle’, this Scottish links golf course enjoys breathtaking views over the Moray Firth
- Muir of Ord – Just down the road, this is a healthland/moorland 18 hole course. With the Singleton whisky distillery just a few miles away, why not take on their Golf & Whisky Tour Package!
- Strathpeffer Spa – Offers a unique golf experience with breathtaking panoramic views over the Cromarty Firth and hills around Ben Wyvis. Described as a ‘hidden gem in the highlands’ by Peter Alliss. It is one of the most scenic courses in Scotland. The views alone are worth the green fees.
Inverness of course!
- Beauly – A short, 10 minute drive away, Beauly is the nearest place for shops. It has art and gift shops, 2 hotels that serve food, a butchers, baker, greengrocers and lovely deli/coffee shop called Corner on the Square and an Italian coffee shop called Biagiotti. Beauly also has a range of takeaway options, including an Indian restaurant, a fish and chip shop, and Chinese
- 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
- Glen Ord Distillery – On the edge of the Black Isle and the distillery closest to Pinewood, take a tour 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 – 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 – Drumnadrochit. Dog friendly. This place is over 300 years old. They have a beautiful tree-lined driveway, including a 400-year-old former hanging-tree and a beer garden to the rear
- The Clachnaharrry Inn – Clachnaharry, as you enter Inverness from Pinewood. Dog friendly
- Rocpool Restaurant – 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
- MacGregor’s Bar – Inverness. Specialises in Scottish craft beer and spirits with a menu focusing on local Highland ingredients. A great place for live music and a super Whisky Experience held regularly. Dog friendly in the bar
- Table Manors Restaurant – Achnagairn. A few miles down the road, 2 AA Rosettes, so one for a special celebration. They have exquisite three-course, five-course and six-course menu options
- Clansman Hotel, Loch Ness – Uses local produce and takes pride in healthy portions and good quality food. They have a Drive & Dine Service where they will collect/return you from Pinewood Steading! Book in advance
- Allengrange Arms, Munlochy – Very good quality, reasonable prices and big portions! The main menu even contains a separate vegan menu (evenings only)
- 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, this 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 good 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. Now serving evening meals
- 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 (cheap) hearty bowl of soup, great sandwiches, baked potatoes and cakes. Caters for gluten free, vegetarian and vegan
- The Wild Pancake – Church Street, Inverness. Makes amazing pancakes with a good choice of fillings. It is open from 11am – 9pm and you can sit in or take-away. Well behaved dogs are welcome
- Cafe Eighty2 – Drumnadrochit. Serves vegetarian and vegan food. One of our faves!
- Brockie’s Bar – Kiltarlity. Music venue, bar in the evenings and Sunday Carvery