Live like royalty in the Hilton Grand Vacations’ Craigendarroch Suites. Originally the home of marmalade magnate James Keiller, who played host to members of the royal family, the house is now a plush hotel with two indoor pools, tennis courts and a spa. Visit Balmoral Castle, which is only eight miles away, or take a bespoke highland safari with local tour guide Ian Murray, which the hotel can help to organise (price on request).
- 01339 755858, www.3hilton.com
Pick up the perfect presents for friends or family during a visit to the historic Walkers shortbread shop in Aberlour-on-Spey. The brand has been in existence since 1898 and still only uses four ingredients (flour, butter, sugar and salt) in its biscuits.
- 01340 871555, www.walkersshortbread.com
Keep a look-out for Nessie while enjoying a horse trek around the famous Loch Ness. Borlum Farm, which overlooks the loch, caters for all riding abilities. Treks usually have between four and eight riders and last from an hour to three hours, depending on the route and ability of the group. Prices start from £24 and it’s worth booking in advance. Stay longer in one of their self-catering cottages or you can camp on the farm if you’re feeling hardy!
- 01456 450220, www.borlum.com
With a partner
Take to the open road on the Scottish equivalent of America’s famous Route 66! North Coast 500 is a route encompassing some of the Highlands’ most stunning scenery, including dramatic coastline and mountains. Starting in Inverness, this 500-mile circular route sweeps up around Easter Ross, Caithness, Sutherland and Wester Ross. You can linger for as long as you wish, stopping to see dolphins, visit distilleries or do a spot of walking.
- For itinerary ideas and suggestions for where to stay en route, call 01955 609806 or visit www.northcoast500.com
The Highlands are famed for challenging golf courses, so golf fanatics will be spoilt for choice! Visit Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness where the Scottish Open was recently held. If your partner is the golfer and you don’t fancy joining in, there’s an on-site café and restaurant where you can relax.
- 01463 796111, www.castlestuartgolf.com
Visit a real Bronze Age cemetery at Clava Cairns, near Inverness. A remarkably well-preserved historical site dating back 4,000 years features passage graves, ring cairns, kerb cairns and standing stones in a beautiful setting.
- Find out more at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
For a luxurious holiday with friends, consider booking Suidhe Cottage in Kincraig, near Aviemore. The timber cottage sleeps up to six people and is near the Cairngorms National Park – perfect for keen walkers. Alternatively, stay at the cottage and enjoy the property’s outdoor hot tub.
- Seven nights from £567. Call 01244 356666, www.sykescottages.co.uk (ref 17310)
Catch up with each other’s news during a picturesque walk around Coire Loch by Glen Affric. You’ll journey through ancient Caledonian forest where you might spot a roe deer or a capercailie. The two-hour walk ends at the picturesque Dog Falls so make sure to bring a camera.
- For more route suggestions, visit www.visitscotland.com/see-do/activities/walking/highlands
Take to the high seas with North 58° Sea Adventures which offers two-hour excursions along the Moray Firth coast from Findhorn Marina. You might spot bottlenose dolphins, seals, harbour porpoises, minke whales, basking sharks as well as hundreds of seabirds. Trips take place daily, weather permitting, and you’ll be provided with waterproofs to keep you warm and dry. Adults £27, children £22.
- 01309 690099, www.north58.co.uk
With the grandchildren
For a taste of history (literally), head to the Highland Folk Museum in the Cairngorms where you can buy traditional sweets by the quarter as well as seeing 30 replica buildings including a schoolhouse. Admission is free. At nearby Blair Castle you can take a nature walk along marked routes or sign up for a Land Rover safari around the estate for £40pp.
- Highland Folk Museum 01540 673551, www.highlifehighland.com/highlandfolkmuseum/; Blair Castle 01796 481207 www.blair-castle.co.uk
Train fans will be thrilled to ride on the Strathspey railway through the Cairngorms National Park, the home of Britain’s highest mountain range. The ten-mile track takes you from Aviemore to Broomhill and little ones will have fun following the treasure trail (available from the gift shop). Various events take place through the year, including the Santa Express on weekends in December.
- 01479 810725, www.strathspeyrailway.co.uk
Visit the award-winning Treasures of the Earth attraction in Fort William. It’s one of Europe’s finest private collections of gemstones, crystals and fossils, housed in an evocative simulation of caves and mining scenes. Learn the history of the Scottish gold rush and see a genuine T-Rex skull. Adults £4.99, children £2.99.
- 01397 772283, www.treasuresoftheearth.co.uk
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