They may be at the very peak of the country, but the Highlands are more accessible than most people think. There are dozens of daily flights – British Airways (www.ba.com) flies from London Gatwick to Inverness; Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) flies to Inverness from London Gatwick, London Luton, Bristol and Belfast; and Eastern Airways (www.easternairways.com) flies to Inverness from Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Southampton.
Meanwhile First Group runs the Caledonian Sleeper train service between London Euston and Inverness or Fort William.
By road, the Highlands are principally accessed by the A9 Perth to Thurso road.
Caledonian MacBrayne (www.calmac.co.uk) runs the bulk of the Hebridean ferry services.
WHERE TO PLAY
The Highlands of Scotland cover a huge area and the type of golf varies greatly north to south and east to west.
In the south-west, Traigh, near Arisaig on the road to Mallaig, offers possibly the most scenic nine holes of golf anywhere in the British Isles. Looking out towards Rum, Eigg and the Cuillins of Skye, each hole delivers a stunning new vista. If there’s nobody in at the small clubhouse just put your money in the honesty box – it’s a policy held by many of the smaller Highland courses.
Travelling north up the west coast there’s another beautiful nine-hole track at Gairloch.
If you fancy some island hopping there are courses on Skye, Harris, Lewis, Benbecula and Barra as well as a Tom Morris-designed layout at Askernish on South Uist, which is currently being restored to 18 holes.
Round the northern tip of Caithness there are seaside courses at Reay and Wick and a surprising parkland layout at Thurso.
Heading south down the east coast of Sutherland you’ll find the jewels in the Highlands’ golfing crown. Travelling down the A9 you’ll pass Brora and Golspie, both wonderfully picturesque James Braid layouts, before reaching majestic Royal Dornoch. Golf has been played on this magnificent piece of coastline since 1616 and the course attracts huge numbers of visitors from all over the world.
WHERE TO STAY
As with the golf, there is an abundance of options when it comes to accommodation in the Highlands. On the east coast try the Castle Hotel in Dornoch. It’s filled with character and set right in the centre of the town.
For those on a tighter budget there are many reasonably-priced guesthouses; the Glenaveron in Brora is a good example. On the west coast, the Inverlochy Castle Hotel near Fort William provides opulent Highland grandeur. Set in the shadow of Ben Nevis it’s a popular retreat for the rich and famous.
Dunrobin Castle near Golspie is the largest house in the northern Highlands. Long-time seat of the Earls of Sutherland, parts of the castle date from the 1300s, though it’s appearance today is largely down to the architectural work of Charles Barry. He was responsible for re-cladding the exterior in the 19th century.
On the west coast, Inverewe Garden, near Poolewe, is an amazing place to visit. Set on the edge of Loch Ewe, this National Trust site has plants from as far away as China and New Zealand.
It’s best to take your car or hire one as just driving round the Highlands is an experience: deserted roads, craggy mountainsides, lochs, forests, eagles and deer. It’s a magical place with spellbinding scenery.
Where to Play
Where to Stay
Dornoch Castle Hotel
Glenaveron Guest House
Inverlochy Castle Hotel