A Winter break in the Scottish Highlands

When you think of Scotland what image appears? Mystical mountains emerging from rolling mists and deep endless Lochs? If this image appeals to you then the village of Golspie is sure to tick all of your boxes.

With buildings built of grey stone, a long sandy beach to one side and the towering hills of Ben Bhraggie to the other, this small Scottish village is idyllic and peaceful in every way. Set in the east coast of Sutherland, Golspie is an attractive quiet village hugging the A9 road which meanders across the coastline. It is the perfect destination for highland walks and as an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

There are many different things to do in this area of Scotland, and being close to nature is definitely a huge attraction. It is awe-inspiring to watch as the sun hits the white frost that covers the rooftops and dry stone walls, fallen leaves and twigs, and begin to sparkle as if they are covered in thousands of crystals.

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The sun filters through the trees, crystal clear water babbles over the brooks and birds sing from the branches. This place evokes a pure sense of peace in the viewer. Hours could easily be spent sitting amongst the trees or walking along the Golspie burn.

Waking up here feels a world away from the rat race of busy city life. Mornings are spent drinking coffee in Poppy’s café and are followed by taking to one of the many scenic highland walks that are on offer around this village.

Taking the path from the edge of the village in the Big Burn car park you walk through the trees, passing under the railway arch. Criss crossing over wooden foot bridges you weave your way across the burn. Benches have been strategically placed along the path so that you can take a moment to soak up the most from this beautiful place. Following the walkways upstream you reach a viewing platform where you can stop and view the pinnacle of the walk, the Big Burn waterfall. The white water crashes from rocks to the gorge below creating a spectacular sight to see, Golspie’s hidden gem.

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In contrast to the highland walks is the beautiful sandy beach of Golspie. Walking along Golspie beach you are treated to views of highland woods behind you and the calm span of the Moray Firth, leading out to the North Sea, in front. The golden sand is highly inviting and you would be forgiven for wanting to spend your day sitting by the sea, even in winter.

Walking northwards along the coastal path edging the beach lies Dunrobin Castle, a magnificent stone building with spires emerging from the trees. Built in 13th century this building belongs to the Sutherland family. It is one of the oldest inhabited houses in Scotland and is a perfect example of the history and architecture that is on offer in this beautiful country.

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The house is open to the public to tour and to see the impressive décor and architecture that adorns the rooms dating from the 1800’s. Once you have walked the halls in the Sutherland family’s footsteps, you can walk amongst the beautifully arranged walled gardens, that were designed by Sir Charles Barry, allowing you to imagine what it was like when they were designed in the Victorian era. If you are lucky you may even get a glimpse of a bird of prey circling the skies or landing in one of the trees surrounding the house.

The scenery of this area of Scotland is untouched and so beautiful that it takes your breath away. You can’t help but stop and stare at what is around you. Watching the sun set from Golspie beach is incredible, and something that I would definitely recommend doing. You can watch as the sky turns from pale blue to yellow, pink and orange. The sea turns a stunning pink and orange and the highlands are thrown into shadow. If you turn towards the village you can see the smoke from the many log fires from the inhabitants twirl upwards from the shadowy horizon and the lone statue of the Duke of Sutherland atop of Ben Bhraggie as he stands watch over the villagers below.

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If you can tear yourself away from the wonderful woodland walks on offer, then only a short drive away in the nearby town of Tain there is something sure to tickle your taste buds. Here you will find the award winning Glenmorangie Whisky distillery. Holding the tallest stills in Scotland, the distillery creates a range of award winning single malt whisky’s and presents the chance for you to go on a tour to see all stages of the making process and how they create this award winning single malt, and of course, get the chance to taste some.

Close to Golspie is the town of Dornoch. This town is known as the last place a witch was burnt in Scotland in 1727. The Old Town jail is now a boutique shop selling many beautiful items with the old cell rooms being dedicated to showcasing the stock. Another claim to fame for the town is that the pop star Madonna chose the town as the place to christen her son before her wedding to Guy Ritchie. You can see them painted on the town memoral in the old court room, which is now a quaint cafe. 

The famous Royal Dornoch Golf course is located on the edge of the town next to the beautiful stretch of golden Dornoch beach. 

There is definitely something for everyone in this beautiful part of the country. If you are looking for a relaxing break, a chance to escape city life and the opportunity to reconnect with nature, then Golspie is the one for you. 

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