Harald Maddadson, the Earl of Orkney and Caithness, couldn't have chosen a more scenic location for a castle. Built in the 12th century when Caithness was ruled by the Norse kings, it is one of the oldest castles in Scotland.
Apart from a tower, nothing much remains of the castle, but the setting is really breathtaking and well worth the short walk (about 2km) from Wick. You can also drive along the coast to the small car park situated 500m from the ruins. Thanks to the locals who showed us the way, we didn't have any trouble finding the location, but I have to admit I didn't see any signs leading to the castle.
I came across a photo of Whaligoe while I was trying to make an itinerary for our trip. The place seemed like amazing, like something that should be mentioned in every travel guide.
However, the truth is it's not even signposted, so you'll need to know the directions in advance. It's along the A99, about 10km from Lybster (if you drive from the south) or 11km from Wick (if you drive from the north). Look out for the crossroad with the sign for Cairn of Get – at the crossroad take the road opposite to the one leading to the Cairn of Get, and drive for about 100m down the road until you reach a small car park. That's it.
Just as we left our car, we met a really friendly local, Dave, who maintains the steps. He spent some time talking to us, told us a lot about the history of the place and showed us old photos of Whaligoe, which really was a bonus.
In short, he told us the name Whaligoe comes from 'whale geo' as whales used to get washed ashore here, and once it was a home to a small fishing fleet. The steps zigzagging down the cliff were build in the late 18th century so that women could carry the fish up from the harbour (not an easy job, that's for sure!). Originally there were 365 steps, one for each day of the year, but some steps are now missing.
The scenery is spectacular, and it's worth climbing down and up the steps even on a rainy day (well, you should get used to the rain when you're here). And just to let you know, there's a small contribution box at the start of the path – a nice way to thank people for maintaining the steps.
I've now been several times to the highlands and have seperate pages on some places ive stayed but heres a list of the places ive been /recommend:
-Loch Lommond - unsure if its classed as the highlands but this loch is stunning (as they all are). Stop at Drovers Inn pubin the north for an experience.
-Loch Ness-obvious tourist reasons to visit but the loch itself is stunning
-Isle of Skye-stunning mountains and narrow roads and coastline - a walkers paradise
-Dunnett head-the true most northerly point of britain mainland
-Dunnett beach-wow, what a truly stunning beach with crystal clear water-and no one on it
-Portmahamock-nice little fishing village on the east coast
-Falls of shin waterfall - we didnt see salmon jumping still nice falls
-Dunrobin castle-didnt go in myself but looks nice
-Driving round the north/east coast-stunning drive with great coastal views and some beautiful beaches, single tracks roads with the backdrop of great towering mountains
-Plockton-nice little fishing village
-Durness-small village with great beaches
-Eilean Donan castle- one of the most photographed, lovely castle on the loch
-Pitlochry-nice small town just an hour or so from edinburgh
-Fort william/Ben nevis-walkers country - and the great mountain itself is a tough walk but worth it
-The drive from Skye to Fort William-stunning scenery on this 50mile drive
-Glencoe-needs no introduction- this stunning glen is just spectacular
Did the tour in January 2010 and this was my second choice tour as my first choice was sold out. We departed off around 9.15 am and we travelled via Glasgow to Loch Lomond where we had a comfort stop. Loch Lomond was beautiful but it was a shame it rained but the rain and clouds gave it a mysterious appearance, which was great for taking photos! We continued via the 'Rest and Be Thankful' pass to Inverarary where we had a stop for a village wander. We drove along Loch Fyne and Loch Awe there where we saw Kilchurn Castle in the middle of the lake! We stopped for lunch at Oban which was wonderful with its bay and MacCaig Tower. After Oban and as it was beginning to get dark, we made our way back to Edinburgh via Tyndrum, Kilmahog and Stirling. I enjoyed the day out and it was nice seeing place I hadn't seen before and revisiting places I've seen.
It cost me 34 GBP (January 2010) to do the tour. Please check the website for dates and prices.
I joined this tour in May 2010 where we explored Loch Ness, Glencoe and The Highlands. We departed from Edinburgh around 8.00am and late morning we had reached Glencoe via Rob Roy Country, Rannoch Moor and Black Mount. After stopping at Glencoe, we continued travelling via Loch Linhe and had lunch at very disappointing conveniences near Fort William. We should had stopped in Fort William itself or even Fort Augustus instead! We reached Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle where we stopped to visit the castle and took a loch cruise. I enjoyed looking round the castle but I was disappointed with the loch cruise and didn't feel I got my value for money. We made our way back to Edinburgh via Inverness, the Cairngorms, Perthshire and stopped at Pitlochry where I felt we should have been given more time to explore.
It was nice seeing a number of sights on that day tour but I wouldn't do the tour again. We could have stopped at some better spots for our comfort and meal breaks.
The tour cost me 37 GBP (May 2010). Please check the website for current dates and prices.
Loch Morar is the United Kingdom's deepest loch and a lot less famous than Loch Ness but indeed more beautiful. The Loch stretches for twelve miles and is a mile wide and plunges to 1000 feet - it is no wonder legend has it the Morar Monster lives here!! We saw no monster just glorious views of the Loch and surrounding hillside. If you follow the road right up to the top you will come to Bracara where the highland clearances really hit home. Many things like small shoes, cooking pots, farming equipment and many more relics of the past are still being dug up here on the Loch shores. See the Black Houses where the people lived trying to eek a living out of the Loch and growing a few potatoes by the loch side - a simple life to be replaced by sheep. It is funny how things turn around in history = I would doubt if this place would have any visitors if it had not been for the Clearances. Don't worry you will not meet many tourists here but you will see stunning views and maybe the odd sheep. BTW this film makers did find this place so Bracara featured well in Ryan's Daughter, Rob Roy and Local Hero. I didn't need a film set the place was just perfect in total isolation.
P.S, Don't tell anyone - the road is too small for a lot of traffic = let's keep it that way!
Loch Ness was the first stop in the Highlands and a place which holds many memories for me as we drove here often on a summer evening. Nothing had changed here in almost 30 years How could it? The Loch has been under intensive research by scientists over many years searching for a pre historic sea creature affectionately known as "Nessie" but even on my most recent visit, this shy reclusive monster still didn't put in an appearance but the Piper was new to me!
During the many car journeys and lovely walks I always kept my eyes open for a Hieland Coo but couldn't find one. In Fort Augustus we saw a sign advertising a rare breeds farm and guess what it said they had Highland Cattle. This small farm, more like a park, had much more to offer including a Hebridean Sheep called "Elvis" I nearly died laughing when I heard the owner calling him. The place is run by a husband & wife team, she takes the money £2.00 & he looks after the animals. While we were peering through a fence trying to glimps the red deer he told us to come up to the top fence where he kindly enticed the Stag & his brood to put in an appearance by rattling a bag of food and calling to them, thank you Angus, you made my day. Another surprise was coming across the rather overdressed Polish Chicken, the tiny Shetland Pony and of course all the fun being had around the duck pond. I'm so glad I followed my quest and found such a delightful place with a lot more than just Highland Cows.
On Monday 19th. August 1745 a small rowing boat was seen heading into the north side of Loch Shiel, in the boat a young Prince looked towards the shore with a heavy heart to see only 50 MacDonald Clans Men awaiting his arrival. The Prince was Charles Edward Stewart or Bonnie Prince Charlie as he was affectionatly known. Later more Clans Men arrived and on the hill behind Loch Shiel Bonnie Prince Charlie raised the Royal Standard to proclaim his Father James Edward Stuart the true King of Scotland. The rest as they say is HISTORY.
The Glenfinnan Monument is dedicated to the Clans Men who fought for & supported the Prince. It is now in the care of Historic Scotland. There is a nice visitor centre and it is here you can purchase a ticket £2.00 adult £1.00 child to go up the monument.
Opening Times are May - October 10.00 - 4.00
The best thing about Glenfinnan is the stunningly beautiful Loch Shiel, the views will truely uplift your spirits.
The contruction that houses the museum was specially built to be a hotel (1882). Before the hotel, in this place we could found the old inn.
The new victorian hotel would be witness of the mistery that have led to so many people to visit the Loch.
Although this tip includes Arisaig, we didn't actually stop in Arisaig as there was nowhere to park.We spent just one day discovering the beauties of this region, mainly it's fantastic white sand beaches which we were not disappointed with.
We drove from Loch Ailort up to Mallaig, firstly taking the new road straight to Mallaig, looking round Mallaig and then taking the coastal route through Morar, Portnaluchag and down to Arisaig. Just outside Arisaig, we parked the motorhome and took the motorbike to the end of the Back of Keppoch road, looking at various campsites and beaches and then back through Arisaig and on to the narrow road south west of the village to Rhumach.
The beaches in this region are unsurpassable, stunning coves of white sand and rocky outcrops. If only the sea wasn't so cold......
For more info on this area, please look at my Arisaig page tips.
Known as the "Highlander" Castle. It's one of the most photographied castles in the world. It stands in a little island in the Kyle of Lochalsh, in a point where three sea lakes meet. The castle is connected to the shore of the lake by a narrow stone bridge . The construction dates originally from the 13th century, but what we can see today is a reconstruction from the 20th century (when it takes its romantic character).
In Fort Augustus the Caledonian Canal connects with the Loch Ness. Its main characteristic is its size, because it links the sea in two sides of the Great Glen. Another curiosity of the Canal are its "stairs". This "stairs" allow the boats to get round the differents heights of the Canal. The boats are rised or lowered by little compartements that can be flooded or drain of water.
The town of Fort Augustus is in the most southern point of the Loch Ness, in the place where the Caledonian Canal starts. It's a nice town, quite replete of tourists watching the coming and going of the boats by the Canal.
We were booked to stay on a Caravan Club Certificated Location in Skerray, a few miles west of Bettyhill so took the opportunity of calling in at Bettyhill. This area is the remotest and sparsely populated in mainland Britain and was largely depopulated during the Clearances. The original village here was Farr, hence the Farr Stone but after the locals were cleared, The Countess of Sutherland, intriguingly had a replacement village built for nearby Rosal and it became known as Bettyhill.
We stopped at the tourist information centre just east of the village and had a look at the museum here.
Bettyhill has some mavellous, wild, sandy beaches, popular with surfers, Torrisdale Bay and Farr Bay. We could cetainly understand why, the wind was certainly making it's presence felt!!
To read about our holiday in this area, please look at my Bettyhill page.
Was here on business, and it is the most fantastic place! 8 rooms above a bar / restaurant, and the...more
Upper Milovaig, Glendale, IV55 8WY, United Kingdom
Good for: Couples
Me and my boyfriend stayed in the Highland Hotel, which has recently as been bought by the Lochs and...more