We’re booked! Just this week I made our reservation for the Glenlochy Apartment at The Highland Club at Fort Augustus. The ‘club’ is really a large set of independently owned, self-catering apartments set in a Benedictine Monastery and its surrounds, all on the shores of Loch Ness.

To me, it looks like a balance between self-catering and a hotel – you can cook and launder in your own rooms, but club facilities include a pool, kids’ playground, giant chess set and onsite restaurant, among others! One reviewer described it as being like “staying at Hogwarts”.

We’ll be here for five nights, and will use it as a base to tour as far north as we’ll get this trip. While I desperately wanted to do the North Coast 500, after trying to make it happen I conceded that large amounts of driving with a 3 and 6yo in the car is not conducive to a relaxing holiday. So maybe that’s a next time trip. This time, however, I think we will venture as far afield as Culloden, Dunrobin Castle and Inverness from The Highland Club.

Dunrobin Modified

This is one of Scotland’s ‘fairy-tale’ castles, has been continuously inhabited since the 1300s, and is the largest castle in the Northern Highlands. It has 189 rooms! The mind boggles. Can I takes notes? Do you think my family will mind?

Dunrobin Castle overlooks the Moray Firth just north of Dornoch, and is set in its own formal grounds inspired by gardens at Versailles. Twice daily falconry demonstrations are run at 11:30am and 2pm, although you can’t have a go yourself here. There are other places in Scotland where you can, however.

It’s a bit of a hike from Fort Augustus, but I think it will be OK as a day trip. We would drive that far for a day trip in Sydney, so why not?

This one surprised me when I stumbled across it while researching the North Coast 500. Chocolate is not what comes to mind when I think Scotland, but apparently it has quite a thriving community of artisan chocolatiers. In Inverness, you can join a walking tour with The Chocolate Place that will take you on a walking tour around Inverness Old Town, with stops (and chocolate, of course!) at six different locations.

Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!

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