Dog walks and dog friendly places to visit
Suggested walks and day excursions for dog owners
Ardersier & immediate area
I recommend turning right from the cottage then following the shore path towards Fort George, this is a nice level path with lots of poo bins for the first part of the walk. Once you get past the houses, you reach Ardersier Common, dogs can be let of the lead as you have the common on one side and the sea on the other, lots of rabbits here so very exciting scents for dogs! Ardersier Common is designated a National Nature Reserve and is especially good for butterflies and moths such as the Dingy Skipper, Grayling and Small Blue.
You don’t need to drive to visit Fort George: Just turn right out of the drive and walk along the shore path. Following the 1746 defeat at Culloden of Bonnie Prince Charlie, George II created the ultimate defence against further Jacobite unrest. The result is the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, if not Europe. Its garrison buildings, artillery defences bristling with cannon, and a superb collection of period arms provide a fascinating insight into 18th century military life. http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk Dogs allowed in grounds.
Nairn (7 miles away)
East of Ardersier lies the Victorian seaside town of Nairn, a favorite holiday destination of Charlie Chaplin. The harbour here was built by Thomas Telford. Nairn has miles of sandy beaches that are dog friendly. Jackos pub is dog friendly and does food, The Sundancer on the sea front allows dogs in their downstairs Cafe and Basil cafe at the harbour is (small) dog friendly and does really good soup – sometimes Cullen Skink. Culbin Forest has lots of lovely walks and crested tits, red squirrels and deer can sometimes be seen here.
For birdwatchers, park at the Maggot near the harbour, walk up river on the East bank, there are numerous bridges so you can make this walk any length you want, then return down the west bank of the river, this walk gives you a good mixture of seabirds and freshwater birds including dippers. – No Sheep, lots of dog poo bins.
Also Brodie Castle (14 miles) is well worth a visit, especially in Spring when all the daffodils are in bloom. Lovely gardens and loch walk. http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Brodie-Castle/ Dogs allowed in grounds
Culloden Battlefield (9 miles away) the award winning visitor centre is a must. The site of the last pitched battle on British soil and the final defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie on 16th April 1746. The excellent visitor centre and exhibition at Culloden battlefield is an essential destination for anyone with an interest in the Jacobite Uprisings. Here you can discover the sights and sounds of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s last stand against the Duke of Cumberland’s Hanoverian forces. Dogs on a lead are allowed on the battlefield but not inside the visitor centre. http://www.nts.org.uk/culloden/
Inverness – about 7 miles away
A lovely city, nice walks round Ness Islands – a series of islands in the River Ness liked by suspension bridges, poo bins at regular intervals, you can sometimes see seals this far up the river, but usually dippers, mergansers, gulls, kingfishers. Have seen otters here too. Another walk is round the canal basin and to the Merkinch nature reserve, make a point of visiting the Clachnaharry Inn that does good food, real ale and allows dogs in the bar – beware the locals and the dog biscuit tin! - “Is it okay if I give your dog a biscuit”? – fine for one, but then everyone else tries to give a biscuit and not good for doggie waistlines! http://www.dugsnpubs.com/dogsfriendlypubs/clachnaharry-inn-inverness. Other dog friendly pubs are the Heathmount Hotel and The Blackfriars. Black Isle Bar and Cafe Nero on the High Street, allows dogs in.
Reelig Forest, Moniack near Beauly Grid Ref NH558431 Lovely circular walk, Reelig Glen is a narrow, steep-sided gorge, cut by the rushing waters of the Moniack. The woodland is a mixture of old conifer and broadleaved trees, but its real glory is a stand of Douglas Fir trees that are well over 100 years old. They soar above you to a height of about 170 feet (50 metres).
One old giant measured over 200 feet (64 metres) in the year 2000 – the tallest tree in Britain at the time. After a local competition, it was named Dughall Mor – Big Douglas! The main walk is quite short, but there are further extensions from the car park to upper Reelig. The Old North Inn, Kirkhill, Inverness, Inverness-shire IV5 7PX sits in the small village of Inchmore on the A862 on the way back to Inverness. Your dog is welcome to accompany you into the bar area. A handly stop for lunch after a walk, Also, nearer Inverness is the Clachnaharry Inn which is very dog friendly and does good food.
A tour of Loch Ness
Visit the world famous Loch Ness- take a cruise with Jacobite Cruises – 5 star Scottish Tourist Board visitor attraction. There is a choice of 7 different tours ranging from 1 hour to 6.5 hours, www.jacobite.co.uk . Dogs allowed on board.
Drumnadrochit itself is a lovely village with a pleasant village green and a really dog-friendly, real ale bar at the Benleva Hotel which is also home to the Loch Ness Brewery. http://www.benleva.co.uk Note this is worth doing on a Sunday as the Benleva does a roast Sunday lunch usually pork or beef. (get there early 12:30 ish) Usually as many dogs as humans in this bar/hotel.
Onwards to Fort Augustus where the A82 crosses the Caledonian Canal via a swing bridge. Stop and watch the boats going up and down the flight of five locks. Visit the Caledonian Canal Visitor Centre showcasing the history of Thomas Telford’s Caledonian Canal – free admission. Dogs not allowed but a small exhibition so one of you could wait outside while the other one takes a look. Dog friendly pubs in Fort Augustus are the Lock Inn and The Bothy.
Return either the way you came or by the scenic south shore route via the spectacular 100ft waterfall of the Falls of Foyers – good area for red squirrels. Dores Inn and the Whitebridge Hotel are both dog friendly.
At Fortrose make sure you go to Chanonry Point for a close up view of the dolphins when the tide is right – an hour after low tide is usually good. The Allangrange at Munlochy is dog friendly and does good food, The Anderson Hotel in Fortrose is also dog friendly and serves good food and real ale but usually opens late afternoon. Walks along Rosemarkie beach and Fairy Glen are highlights here. The Beach Cafe at Rosemarkie allows at the outside benches.
Favourite photographers’ excursion especially for the Autumn colours. Justly renowned for the glory of its woodlands, this classical blend of natural forest, shimmering loch and rugged hill has inspired many Victorian artists, and notably the 'Monarch of the Glen' painted by Landseer was set amidst this fine panorama. (There will be deer and sheep in Glen Affric but not likely along the paths)
Note: All beaches are dog friendly in the area all year round.