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The Best Place to Spot Dolphins

Last weekend I took two Pinewood Steading guests to experience the delights of a nearby beach – Rosemarkie Beach on the Black Isle. And also Chanonry Point, which is (officially) one of the best places in the world to spot Bottlenose dolphins.

A poster showing information about the dolphins

We drove via Beauly and the Muir of Ord over to the Black Isle and arrived at the car park at Chanonry Point in less than 30 minutes. Even the drive across the Isle, through Avoch and Fortrose is lovely.

We took a slow and steady bimble up to the point, before making our way up the mile long beach into Rosemarkie. We were planning to stop off at the Rosemarkie Beach Café.

A beach shot showing Rosemarkie

This is a community run project and here we managed to get ourselves some cake and hot drinks.  After sitting for a while and enjoying the view, we made our way back down to Chanonry Point. We were lucky enough to spot a seal on the way back! The wind was still quite strong and was making lovely patterns across the sand.

A view of the sand being blow across the beach by the wind

They say one hour after low tide is the best time to spot dolphins at the Point. Low tide on that day was 3pm, and we arrived at the Point just before 4pm.  A small crowd was beginning to gather.  After about 10 minutes, we weren’t disappointed, we saw our first two dolphins, who even leapt out of the water! We only saw a few more over the course of the hour we were there for, but saw more seals too.

The weather was blowy, the sea was very choppy and we did get a wee bit cold, so we made our way back to the car with windswept smiles on our faces.

Landscape photo of Rosemarkie Beach

 

Where’s Nessie?? Cruising On Loch Ness

My husband, Jimmy, and I recently took ourselves to Fort Augustus (an hour’s drive away) and decided to jump on one of the Loch Ness cruises.  There are two main companies you can go with (basically from opposite end of the Lochs).  So, we jumped on ‘Cruise Loch Ness’ for a one hour trip.  Booked in advance, we saved a bit of money; otherwise on bought on the day, a ticket costs £14.50 per adult.

A poster advertising the different cruises and prices

For those that don’t know, Loch Ness is a very large, deep, freshwater loch, near Inverness (and only 5 miles from Pinewood Steading.)  It’s approximately 36km (23 miles) long, and has a maximum depth of 226metres.  It’s 1 mile wide! Did you know, it never freezes? And it contains more water than all the lakes and rivers in England and Wales combined.

A view of Loch Ness from the boat

Aboard the Legend of Loch Ness

Loch Ness is basically a fault line, that splits the north of Scotland down the middle! It was further sculptured by Ice Age glaciers, hence having very steep sides. So, you can imagine how something like the Loch Ness Monster can be hiding…

Many explorations in history have tried to find Nessie – and there have been very many unidentified and unexplained sonar contacts, not to mention countless fake sightings. Our cruise boat had some sonar equipment so we could keep an eye on anything lurking under the water.

A blue sonar image of the depths of Loch Ness

Sonar image

And the cruise host had an amazing sense of humour, was very knowledgeable, and full of fun facts and figures, making it a very entertaining and informative trip.  We basically sailed up the loch to Invermoriston, turned around and came back. ‘Cruise Loch Ness’ also do evening sailings and trips on fast ribs.  If you’re ever in Fort Augustus, it’s worth jumping abroad! Oh – and we saw Nessie!

Picture of the Loch Ness monster

 

Visit some Highland Games!

This time of year, there are lots of Highland Games taking place. Over the summer (from May to September), you have the chance to visit over 80, taking place on islands and in towns, villages and cities across Scotland.

It’s the place best to see a combination of international athletes, local communities and visitors coming together in a super family-friendly day out!

For the Games, you will see traditional heavy athletic events like the caber toss and the hammer throw.

An athlete throwing the hammer

The hammer throw

There’ll also be track and field events for local participants, Highland dance competitions and bagpipes and marching bands!

A marching band dressed in red tartan with bagpipes

Marching bands

There are usually food and craft tents too.  And if you want to see local Clans wearing their kilts, these events are the place to visit!

We recently went to the Games in Inverness; one of the biggest in the Highlands.  There were over 10,000 spectators in Bught Park which saw the Games kick off with an exhibition Shinty match. Shinty is like field hockey, but much more brutal! One of the highlights was when spectators got invited to take part in the Mass Highland Fling – traditional Highland Dancing.

For us, we loved watching the athletes take part in the fiercely contested Games, and it was one of the most thrilling climaxes in years!  Three athletes were battling for the Championship, but ultimately Daniel Carlin emerged the victor by a single point.  The day ended on a super high as Aarons Monks of Australia stepped forward to become only the 9th man in the modern era to complete the daunting 252lb Stonemasons Stone over the Bar Challenge. This is basically picking up a super heavy stone ball and throwing it over a high bar!!

Despite the rain, we all had a great time and already look forward to next year’s Games on Saturday 21st July in Inverness.  Why not plan to go along and stay at the Steading! Or if you want to visit some Games sooner, check out Nairn on the 19th August or Glenurquhart, near Loch Ness on 26th August.

An athlete tossing the caber, a very long heavy piece of wood

Tossing the caber