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 northern 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.
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 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 holiday.
history and genealogy
The local area has 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 in Helmsdale which has a museum and local archive. Also nearby are Dunrobin Castle, Carn Liath broch, Badbea clearance village, prehistoric Camster cairns, the Castle of Mey, and Dornoch cathedral. 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 & 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. The John o'Groats Trail is a coastal walking route between Inverness and John o'Groats, for both long distance walkers and for local walkers looking for a coastal stroll along a particular section.
If you would like a guided walk, professional guided hillwalking is available locally from King Mountaineering.
There's some great surfing and paddle-boarding across the region. Locally, paddle boarding is really popular, both at Loch Brora and from the beaches. Rental and lessons are available from the Sutherland Adventure Company.
Thurso East on the north coast has hosted a number of national and international competitions, both it and neighbouring beaches can offer great conditions. Surf kit rental and lessons are available on the north coast through North Coast Watersports.
Lastly, Liquid Footprints offer canoeing, sea kayaking and gorge scrambling experiences throughout the north Highlands.
Photo credit: Sutherland Adventure Company
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 25% 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 and the UK's most northerly 18 hole links course at Reay.
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 wildlife 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. If you are lucky you might spot otters or dolphins on your beach walks. 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.
Photo credit: Louise Mackay
We have some great highland games in the area. The Helmsdale Games are the third weekend of August and are definitely worth a visit. The 40th anniversary Helmsdale games are due to take place on Saturday 21 August 2021. Other local games are held at Dornoch, Tain, Invercharron, Halkirk and Wick.
whisky, beer and gin
Our local distillery is Clynelish in Brora, producing a fruity, waxy, slightly smoky malt and offering tours (these need to be pre-booked) throughout the year from its new visitor centre. Its next door distillery, Brora, re-opened in 2021 after an almost 40 year closure.
Other local distilleries included Old Poultney in Wick, Woolfburn in Thurso, 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.
Photo credit: Ard Beag Ceramics
In addition to the artists workshops there are a number of shops in the area selling great gifts and local goods including the Timespan shop, Glencoast and Gifted in Helmsdale and the Otter's Couch in Brora. Brora was originally home to the mill which produced Hunter's tweed, now you can find a variety of great tweeds and woollen 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 North Coast Glass, contemporary glass working, both sell from their workshops at Tain.
fishing, shooting and stalking
Fishing is available on the renowned rivers of the Helmsdale and the Brora as well as on many local lochs. Day permits for the association water in Helmsdale are available from Glencoast on Dunrobin Street in the village.
Photo credit Ronald Sutherland - 'Megan Boyd' fly.
There is a good beauty salon, Blisss, in Brora if you would like to treat yourself; and if you have forgotten someone's birthday and need to send flowers 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.