Culgower House

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Dunrobin castle, local Clynelish whisky, looking north from Dornoch beach

Culgower House is surrounded by activities, history and the glorious scenery of the north Highlands; a perfect place to relax, recharge and explore. We can suggest a number of day trips which would allow you to explore the breadth of the north Highlands of Scotland whilst using Culgower House as your base. We are also located right on the North Coast 500 route. We have a drying room, boot room and can offer secure storage for bikes.

As well as the beautiful landscape and beaches our area can offer: history (castles, Picts and gardens), genealogy, walking and climbing, golfing, mountain biking, bird and sea life watching, highland games, whisky, artists and makers, shopping, fishing, stalking and shooting. In 2014 Helmsdale was awarded a Creative Place award which recognises the hard work and imagination that contributes to the rich cultural life of Scotland's smaller communities, as well as their social and economic well being.  

day trips / itineraries

There are some fantastic places to visit all over the north Highlands, most of them reachable on a day trip from Culgower House. We have spent a fun time putting together suggestions based on our favourite places and trips.  Our itineraries can guide you on day trips around East Sutherland, Caithness, North Sutherland, the West coast and also to Orkney. The itineraries are available as documents to take whilst you are with us, alternatively please contact us if you would like have copies in advance to help you plan your visit.

what to do and things to see

History and genealogy The local area has a number of cairns, brochs and standing stones dating back thousands of years as well as more recent buildings.  2013 marked 200 years since the start of the clearances in East Sutherland, you can find out more at Timespan Heritage and Arts Centre in Helmsdale.  Timespan has won a number of awards and portrays life in the area over the past centuries, it has a sizable local archive and a contemporary art gallery. Dunrobin castle, seat of the Earls of Sutherland, lies 10 miles south, on the edge of Golspie. The Castle of Mey, highland home of the late Queen Mother, is well worth a visit and is an hour's drive to the north. Dornoch, 20 miles to the south, is famed for its 12th century cathedral, 15th century castle, golf course and historic buildings. Other historic attractions within an hour or two's drive include Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness; Cawdor Castle, Culloden and Fort George by Inverness and the prehistoric Camster cairns near Lybster. In addition the Orkney islands have a wealth of history, the ferries are just over one hour's drive north.

If you would like to research your family history there are a number of clan museums in the area as well as the Timespan archive.

Walking and climbing We have spectacular beaches all around us and seals are a common sight. There are a number of easy and interesting walks in the area. In addition the hills are spectacular and, should your inclination turn to Munro bagging, Ben Klibreck, Ben Hope and Ben More Assynt are nearby and the mountains of Assynt and the west coast can be reached in just over an hour. If you would like a guided walk, professional guided hillwalking is available locally from King Mountaineering.

Golfing There are an abundance of links courses in the area and you can take advantage of these with a Dornoch Firth Golf Pass. The pass gives you 30% off when you play Brora, Golspie, Tain and Dornoch's Championship and Struie courses; the pass is valid for a year. Brora golf club has an excellent links course designed by Jame Braid; Royal Dornoch was founded in 1877 and is 30 minutes drive away; Helmsdale golf club has a 9 hole course with views up the Strath of Kildonan; Golspie golf club also has a lovely links course and there are a number of other courses within an hour's drive including the course at Tain.

Mountain biking Golspie's Wildcat trails are superbly built and boast the longest downhill run in the UK.  The trails cater for all abilities from family rides to an impressive and awe inspiring black trail from the top of Ben Bhraggie. Other trails in the area include those of the Kyle of Sutherland, Learnie Red Rocks, Laggan Wolftrax, Rosehall and Borgie Forest.  An e-guide to mountain biking in the Highlands can be downloaded at highlandeguide.co.uk.

Bird and sea life watching The wildlife in Sutherland is plentiful and you are likely to see seals on the beaches and deer grazing on the hills as you travel around. Loch Fleet national nature reserve near Golspie has large numbers of wildfowl and wading birds. RSPB Forsinard is a peatland bird reserve offering guided bog walks to help you appreciate the flora and fauna. The Moray Firth is home to over 100 bottlenose dolphins and there are a number of land based centres and sea trips available to help you watch them, including EcoVentures at Cromarty.

Highland Games We have some really great highland games in the area.  The Helmsdale games are on the third weekend of August and are definitely worth a visit.  Other local games are at Dornoch, Tain, Invercharron, Halkirk and Wick.

Whisky Our local distillery is Clynelish in Brora, producing a fruity, waxy, slightly smoky malt and which offers tours throughout the year.  Other local distilleries include Old Poultney in Wick, Highland Park on Orkney, Glenmorangie in Tain and Dalmore in Alness.

Artists and Makers The East Sutherland area is rich in talented artists and makers working in both traditional and contemporary ways, many of whom are happy to welcome visitors to their workshops by appointment. Those in the immediate area include ceramicist Louise Nadin, jeweller Patricia Niemann, woven tapestry artist Joan Baxter, kiltmaker Julia Jappy and Northlands Creative Glass. In addition, the gallery at Timespan in Helmsdale is a purpose built visual and applied contemporary art gallery with a regularly changing programme of exhibitions.

Shopping In addition to the artists workshops there are a number of shops in the area selling great gifts and local goods including Pandora's in Brora and the Timespan shop in Helmsdale.  Brora was originally home to the mill which produced Hunter's tweed, now you can find a variety of great tweeds and woolen products at Kingcraig Fabrics. In Dornoch The Jail is well known for its cashmere, sporting clothes, pottery, crafts and gifts.  ANTA has a shop at its factory near Tain which showcases its fabrics, pottery and furniture. The Tain pottery, suppliers of our porridge bowls, and Glasstorm, contemporary glass working, both sell from their workshops at Tain.

Fishing is available on the renowned rivers of the Helmsdale and the Brora as well as on many local lochs. For further information we suggest that you contact Ronald Sutherland at the Helmsdale Company.

Shooting and Stalking Shooting is available at a number of local estates, including Kintradwell near Brora and also through sporting agencies George Goldsmith and Sporting Lets.

Other There is a good beauty salon, Blisss, tucked away in Brora if you would like to treat yourself; and if you have forgotten someone's birthday and need to send flowers whilst you are here then our local florist Maisies Daisies is excellent. Should you feel more energetic Star Riding Stables in Brora offer some great hacking through the local countryside. Lastly, you can visit the site of Sutherland's gold rush at Baile an Or in the Strath of Kildonan, panning equipment is available to hire at Timespan in Helmsdale.

If you would like to learn more about the area you can visit the village/ area websites for Helmsdale, Brora and the North Highlands.


Culgower House, Loth, Helmsdale, Sutherland, KW8 6HP, Scotland
  © Culgower House 2014-2017