Over the coming weeks, we’ll be checking out some fab dog friendly properties owned by Crerar Hotels. First up, a Highland hotel break somewhere close to our hearts. The four star Golf View Hotel & Spa is located in Mr G’s Highland hometown Nairn, or paradise as he calls it. I have to agree. I’m an Edinburgh girl through and through, but Nairn’s where I chose to get married. When Mr G proposed, four months into our whirlwind romance, I’d already decided The Golf View Hotel & Spa would be our wedding venue.
And we’re off on a Highland hotel break
It’s four years since we stayed at the hotel, so we were looking forward to a Highland hotel break in Nairn.
Mr G was beyond excited about the trip and couldn’t wait to set off when the morning of our stay arrived.
We planned to spend the day visiting some of our favourite places in and around Nairn, before check-in time at the Golf View Hotel & Spa.
Exploring in and around Nairn
A visit to Culloden Battlefield
Our first stop was Culloden Battlefield, 12 miles west of Nairn.
I first visited the battlefield when I was a history student at the University of Edinburgh. It’s a haunting and melancholy place, but something about Culloden keeps drawing me back.
On 16th April 1746 the last pitched battle fought on British soil, took place on Culloden Moor. Fighting lasted under an hour and resulted in a devastating defeat for Charles Edward Stuart’s (Bonnie Prince Charlie) Jacobite army. Jacobite casualties stood at 1,500, while the Duke of Cumberland’s (the butcher) Government forces suffered 100 losses.
In recent years, the popularity of the TV series Outlander has led to an increase in visitor to Culloden. Fans arrive to follow in the footsteps of their fictitious hero, Jamie Fraser. I love Outlander, but I’m torn when I see visitors treating the battlefield like a film set.
For me, Culloden is somewhere for quiet contemplation. A rugged Highland moor with a bloody past. It’s a war grave too and should be treated with respect.
Near Culloden, is another favourite historic site of mine.
Clava Cairns is a remarkably well-preserved Bronze Age cemetery. The 4,000-year-old site consists of a number of chambered cairns and stone circles.
The monuments are surrounded by trees, which gives them an air of mystery.
Clava Cairns also attracts Outlander fans. Some listen for a humming sound coming from the stones. Good luck to anyone who does stumble upon a time portal there. The Scottish Highlands in the run up to the Battle of Culloden, is not somewhere I’d fancy visiting.
Whenever I visit Clava Cairns, my mind wanders much further back in time. Now, if I was to discover a time portal to transport me back to the Bronze Age to meet the people who built the cairns …
After my history fix, it was time to head to Nairn, or Nurn if you’re local like Mr G.
Walk – Nairn beachfront
After grabbing a takeaway lunch from Strathnairn Beach Cafe on Nairn Links, we went for a walk along the beachfront.
Despite the blue sky, the sea was choppy – much to the delight of some kite surfers on the beach. We watched them for a while, before heading in the direction of Nairn Harbour.
A hardworking local lass
Our walk led us to a statue of a traditional fishwife, carrying a creel. Fishwives were an important part of the Nairn community. They gathered bate and pine cones for smoking fish, bated lines and smoked and sold fish – including the famous Nairn Spelding.
Passing Nairn Harbour, we walked along the pier to reach a lighthouse at the end of it. We studied the sea closely, as dolphins are sometimes spotted off the coast of Nairn (and recently basking sharks too). Sadly, the sea was too choppy for wildlife sightings.
Leaving the pier, we took the boy for a run on East Beach Nairn. The town’s stunning beaches (Nairn Central Beach and East Beach Nairn) are separated by the River Nairn, where it flows into the Moray Firth by the town harbour.
Ice cream by the harbour
After larking around on the beach, we headed to the harbour, where I spotted a cafe selling ice cream. Two minutes later, we left Basil Harbour Cafe with a flake topped tub of ice cream each.
We watched boats bobbing in the harbour, as we ate our sweet treat.
Next, we crossed Nairn Links, where the town’s Highland games are held. We stopped to admire the Wallace Bandstand. It was built in the late 19th century, in memory of John Wallace. Wallace was born in Nairn, but emigrated to Australia, where he became a respected pastoralist.
We finished our walk, back at the Strathnairn Beach Cafe.
It was time to check-in at the Golf View Hotel & Spa.
Our Highland hotel break
The Golf View Hotel & Spa
The Golf View sits by the seafront, in a quiet, residential corner of Nairn. It’s a peaceful spot, but only a short walk from the town centre.
The hotel’s neighbours include a championship golf course (one of two championship courses in Nairn) and Hollywood royalty.
The hotel grounds overlook Nairn Central Beach. They’re where Mr G and I got married, one glorious August afternoon. It was a perfect day and wedding venue.
Our sea view junior suite
The reception staff at the Golf View Hotel & Spa have Highland hospitality off to a fine art. You’re always guaranteed a warm welcome on arrival.
The hotel recently underwent a multi-million pound renovation programme, so we couldn’t wait to see our room.
We’ve stayed in a number of lovely rooms at the Golf View over the years, but none compared to the one we stayed in on this occasion.
It was a junior suite with a sea view and had an entrance hall, a large bedroom with seating area, a walk in wardrobe and bathroom.
The bathroom was amazing. It had a copper bath, TV and a fab sea view.
The interior design throughout was stunning, with quality furnishings, sumptuous fabrics and a stylish colour scheme of blues and greys.
There were nice touches too, including a personalised newspaper printed with information about our stay and dog walk recommendations from resident pooch Fudge.
The bathroom was stocked with a great selection of Arran Aromatics toiletries.
There was even a sleep kit containing an eye mask, ear plugs and This Works ‘Deep Sleep Pillow Spray’ by the side of the bed.
On our hospitality tray we had complimentary pretzels, Tunnock’s Teacakes and Caramel Wafers (Scottish biscuits), as well as tea, coffee, hot chocolate and water.
They’d thought of absolutely everything.
The art of doing nothing
We’d planned to visit the pool, but loved our room so much, we hung out in it instead.
Mr G nipped to the bar to get us a drink, then we loafed in armchairs by the window, listening to the radio and the sound of waves crashing on the shore outside.
For three and a half hours, we perfected the art of doing nothing.
The boy has long been an advocate.
We finally tore ourselves out of the armchairs to get ready for dinner. Before heading downstairs to dinner, we stood at our room window and watched the sun setting over the Moray Firth.
Dinner – Hickory at The Golf View Hotel & spa
The Golf View’s restaurant, ‘Hickory’ is housed in a stylish conservatory. We could’ve eaten in the equally stylish hotel bar with Casper in tow, but decided to dine without his incessant demands for food.
As soon as we entered the restaurant, we were welcomed by the waiting staff and shown to a table by the window.
Old romantic, Mr G had ordered a bottle of champagne for us to have with dinner.
Champagne poured and glasses clinked, we turned our attention to the menu.
I chose a starter of chicken liver parfait and toasted brioche with sweet onion marmalade. The parfait was smooth, light and full of flavour. It was complimented beautifully by the onion marmalade.
I almost fell off my chair when fish fanatic Mr G ordered a non-fishy starter. He had a wild mushroom vol-au-vent with crispy quails eggs and hollandaise sauce. It was a hit.
He skipped fish for his main course too, opting for fillet steak, spinach mash and caramelised wild mushroom jus. His verdict? The steak was cooked to perfection and the mash amazing.
I had cauliflower steak with peppercorn sauce, tomato, grilled mushrooms and hand cut chips. If the truth be told I hate cauliflower, but like to challenge myself to try new things. My gamble paid off – the dish was lovely and nothing like the yucky florets I loathed as a child.
To finish we had a gorgeous banana tarte tatin with vanilla pod ice cream.
It’d been another fantastic meal from the Golf View.
Time to wind down after a wonderful day
After dinner, we’d planned to sit with the boy in the hotel lounge, but ended up taking French martinis up to our room instead.
I had mine as I soaked in a lavender and black pepper infused bath like a Hollywood diva.
When I emerged from the bathroom feeling nice and mellow, Mr G wanted the Hollywood treatment too. I helped with the fragrant potions and left him to it. He’d presented me with an opportunity to mist the pillows with sleep spray. My misting drives him crazy at home. Apparently it makes him sneeze. He’ll drink a G&T spritzed with verbena mist without complaining though.
He fell asleep quickly that night – unaware of my spritzing spree.
I wasn’t far behind him – the bed was unbelievably comfy and the pillows smelt divine.
Breakfast with a view
After a great sleep, we woke feeling fresh. We were looking forward to returning to ‘Hickory’ to sample the breakfast menu.
It was a great menu with lots of choice.
I had a not quite ‘Full Scottish’ which included the best haggis ever. Mr G had his old favourite – eggs royale. We had a pot of coffee, grapefruit juice and toast too.
It was the perfect start to the day.
Sadly, our Highland hotel break had come to an end. It was time to say goodbye to our gorgeous room and the Golf View Hotel & Spa. It’d been another memorable stay.
With so many things to do in Nairn and the surrounding area, we planned to visit a couple more spots before heading home.
Day 2 – Exploring in and around Nairn
The Secret Beach, Nairn
On the outskirts of Nairn, is a beach known as ‘The Secret Beach’. The name is recent and for locals it’s never been a secret. It’s where they go for a tranquil stroll by the sea. We headed to the beach after breakfast, to walk the boy and fill our lungs with sea air.
The locals may love the beach, but not on a Sunday morning it seems. We arrived to find it deserted – hooray.
The only sign of life we saw, was a flock of geese who flew over us in v formation – a reminder that winter was coming.
From the beach we could see Fort George in the distance. It was our next destination.
Fort George, Ardersier
Fort George is located in Ardersier a few miles west of Nairn. The fort, which is managed by Historic Environment Scotland, is another of our favourite places in the area.
Fort George was built after the Battle of Culloden, to ensure a permanent base for King George II’s army. Stationing troops near Inverness, meant Highland unrest could be dealt with swiftly.
The British Army still occupy the fort. It’s open to the public as a historic site too.
Even if military history isn’t your thing, a visit to Fort George will impress.
We’ve seen Fort George’s historic exhibits loads over the years, so on this visit we planned to walk round the ramparts to take in the view and hopefully, spot some wildlife.
Elevenses al fresco, wildlife watching and a bargain buy
First, we stopped for coffee at the Fort George Cafe. It was a lovely morning, so we sat at a table in the cafe courtyard and basked in the sun. There may have been cake involved too – delicious cake.
After elevenses, we climbed onto the ramparts to look for dolphins in the Moray Firth.
Across the firth at Chanonry Point, we could see people gathered on the beach, gazing out to sea. I preferred our viewing spot. It’s not every day you can look for wildlife down the barrel of a cannon.
We managed to catch a glimpse of dolphins and spotted seals in the water too.
Before leaving Fort George, I popped into the shop and treated myself to a gorgeous Fair Isle headband. Perfect for keeping cosy on chilly winter walks.
It’d been a history free visit to Fort George on this occasion, but it was still lots of fun.
We stayed at the Golf View Hotel & Spa on a complimentary basis, however all opinions are my own.
Until next time …