There is so much to Do in and around the Dornoch area and across the Northern Highlands. Here are our top ten suggestions for you to enjoy whilst on your holiday in Scotland with your children.
Embo boasts its very own holiday park, “Grannie’s Heilan’ Hame”, with several facilities that are open to the public including a swimming pool, tennis courts, crazy golf and much more. There is also a bar, restaurant, live entertainment, a convenience store and takeaway. The park is right on the beach which boasts the best rockpools around!
Families love the variety in Skelbo, from dipping for mini beasts in the wildlife pond beside the car park to hunting out the chainsaw-carved woodland creatures along the trail. It’s a fun forest full of interesting twists and turns, open views and fascinating features, including the remains of an iron age broch and some impressive drystone walls.
Camore Woods has a natural play area which includes tunnels, dens, a fort and games for children and the whole family. Soak up the tranquility of the forest whilst watching out for buzzards hunting voles, roe deer flitting through the trees and woodland birds feasting on wild raspberries and blaeberries in summer. Hidden in the forest are more than 25 hut circles and chambered cairns.
At Dornoch Lochans there is open air recreation for everyone. You can walk around the lochans and watch the Osprey come if for his lunch or if you are very lucky see the otter playing in the water. £1 buys you 24 golf balls on the driving range or head through the gate, on he footpath to the beach.
Historylinks is one of the very few 5 star museums in the Highlands. Dedicated to the history of Dornoch parish, current displays include a golf professional’s workshop where Donald Ross honed his skills, Carnegie at home at Skibo, the shameful burning of Scotland’s last condemned witch and the impact of the Picts and the Vikings. Films include Sutherland in 1950 and the Dornoch Light Railway. There are lots of games for children as well as costumes to dress up in. Visitor translations in German, French, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.
6) Dornoch Beach Treasure Walk
Dornoch’s safe, Blue Flag beach, is ideal for families with its gentle shallows, sheltering dunes and miles of golden sands. Perfect for paddling and swimming on warm summer days. Throughout the year it is popular for walkers taking a gentle stroll or carrying on north to Embo. The Dornoch treasure walk takes approximately 1.5 hours and is great way to explore the beach and learn a thing or two about the wildlife along the way! It is available on our app (Discover Dornoch) or as a booklet which you can pick up from the Visitor Centre or the beach carpark.
7) Natural play area and leaping salmon at the Falls of Shin
Follow the winding road through Achany Glen to a forest clearing where salmon leap and children play. You’ve reached the Falls of Shin, a wonderful starting point for a range of trails through beautiful mixed woodland and along the rocky banks of the Shin. It’s a great place to get out and enjoy the forest whatever your ability – there are natural play areas here and easy trails suitable for all users.
8) Seals and bird watching at Loch Fleet Nature Reserve
Loch Fleet, a sea loch, lies just north of Dornoch and is a haven for fauna and flora. It has a variety of species including otters and seals, wildfowl and seabirds, orchids and butterflies. The loch is a large tidal basin with sand dunes, coastal heath, and pine woods. The woodland supports species such as Scottish crossbills, crested tits, and pine marten.
9) Falconry display at Dunrobin Castle
Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands. Enjoy a wonderful day out here exploring the house and its treasures, the gardens, and museum. The bird of prey displays are always very impressive and contribute to an enjoyable visit for the whole family. Daily birds of prey flying demonstrations at 11.30am, and 2.00pm on the Castle lawn. See spectacular shows featuring golden eagles and peregrine falcons, both resident birds in the Scottish Highlands. Learn more about other local birds of prey as well as the ancient art of falconry. Additional attractions include more exotic species such as the European Eagle owl.
Just 13 miles from Dornoch, on the road between Bonar Bridge and Ardgay, The Hub provides an excellent choice for a family-friendly day out with a bespoke three-level indoor soft play centre featuring two large slides and plenty of climbing and crawling tunnels to explore for children aged 0-12. The Hub Creperie is unique in the Northern Highlands also offering customers a choice of tacos, tortilla, and nachos. Enjoy a hot drink or smoothie whilst looking out at the spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes or one of our delicious smoothies. We also have a youth room for older children, a well-equipped fitness suite and an outside kickabout area.
Download the Discover Dornoch App (from windows, apple or play stores) for more ideas on walks and activities as well as places to eat and stay.