Located in the northern Highlands about 1 hour north of Inverness, Golspie has become a popular stop on the NC500 circuit. It also makes for a great day trip from Inverness (check out this post) or from nearby Dornoch (read this post). It’s a small town which lies directly on the A9 and has a number of great attractions. It can be easily reached by car or alternatively by public transport (train or bus).
Visit Dunrobin Castle
This is probably the number 1 visitor attraction in town. Dunrobin Castle is like something out of a fairytale! Reported to have been inspired by the Château de Versailles, this castle is a must on your Scottish Highlands itinerary. You’ll find it on your right when you leave Golspie heading north.
The oldest part of the building dates back to 1275, although there have been many improvements and additions over the years. In the first world war the 189-room mansion became a hospital and in the 1960s a boarding school, but today it is once again a family home. With the sprawling chateau being the main residence of Lord Strathnaver the Earl of Sutherland, whose ancestors have been connected with this historic masterpiece for seven hundred years.
Whether you’re doing the NC500 or are visiting the area, make sure you include a stop here.
>> Are you doing the North Coast 500? Check out our epic guide of what to see and do on the East Coast section of the NC500! <<
Enjoy the Big Burn Walk and waterfalls
The Big Burn Walk is something of a hidden gem. Located to the north of the town as you leave Golspie, you’ll find a car park signposted on the left just before exiting Golspie. The start of the walk is clearly indicated at the car park. You can then embark on this magical woodland walk (takes about 1 hour). Follow the path along a burbling stream, meander over over and under bridges and enjoy the stunning waterfall that tumbles down a rocky drop at the end of the trail. It’s a wonderful walk to do with children, they’ll feel as though they’ve stumbled onto the set of a fairytale.
Walk on Golspie Beaches
There is plenty of choice when it comes to beaches in and around Golspie. You can easily walk to the beach from the main street or if you’re embarking on the coastal walk towards Dunrobin Castle. Alternatively, head towards Loch Fleet Nature Reserve (head south) and you’ll find a car park on your left from which to reach the wide, sandy beach. It’s a lot wilder and quieter than the other beaches.
Have some fish and chips at The Trawler
Head to the Trawler for some of the best fish and chips in the area (they’ve been nominated for Best Fish and Chip Shop 2023!) Located on the High Street, right on the A9, this cosy inn is very easy to find and is also a perfect place to stop if you’re doing the NC500. It has been operating as a take-away only since Covid hit but theyve just reopened the restaurant too (March 2023). The woodburner in the back room creates a lovely atmosphere during the winter months. We recommend you double-check opening times on the link below.
Enjoy an ice cream from Capaldi’s of Brora
*** UPDATE April 2023: the shop is currently undergoing a wee makeover and should be reopening very soon ***
This is a must on a sunny day! If you’ve been to Brora, you’ll have no doubt spotted the wee pink shop… and the good news is that Capaldi’s of Brora also have an ice-cream shop on the Main Street of Golspie. Choose from a selection of 22 flavours all home-made in their ice-cream factory. Pick up a cone or extend the pleasure by picking up some 1 or 2 litre sized tubs.
Go Bird Watching at Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve
Loch Fleet is an untamed salt water, tidal estuary sandwiched between Dornoch and Golspie. The beach and marshland are backed by sand dunes and attractive pine woods, which together create a perfect habitat for a wide range of wildlife. You can expect to see ospreys, terns, butterflies, oystercatchers and eider, to name just a few. If you own a pair of binoculars or just have good eyesight, then the bird hide in the Balblair woods is an ideal place to spot some rare birds.
Walk in Balblair woods
As you drive towards Loch Fleet and Littleferry, you’ll pass through Balblair woods. There is a car park on the left and from where you can join the Balblair woodland trail. There is also a newly created battlefield trail which commemorates the Battle of Littleferry which took place in 1746. Various waymarkers have been placed within the area.
Tee off at the Golf Club
You’ll find yet another beautiful coastal golf course! You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to golf courses along the East Coast of the NC00. Established in 1889, this golf course offers gorgeous views to the sea and a very friendly welcome.
Watch some go karting races
Any motorsport enthusiasts? Head to south Golspie and discover the Littleferry circuit at the North of Scotland Kart club. This is a go karting club so not somewhere you can hire a go kart. However, it can be fun to watch various races including drift car events, mini moto or Caithness car club sprints. Admission is free and you’ll get to visit the pits, chat to the drivers and check out the karts or cars.
Ride down longest downhill descent in the UK
This is where you’ll find the most northernly and longest singletrack mountain bike descent in the UK! The Highland Wildcat Trail starts at Ben Bhraggie and takes you all the way down to Golspie. There are various grades of tracks including a black trail (13.6km), a red trail (7.5km), a blue trail (6.5km) and a Pict’s path (0.9km).
Have a dip in the local Swimming pool
The perfect rainy day activity – especially if you have kids – is to head to the Sutherland swimming pool. Open from Monday to Friday from 7am til 8pm and Saturdays from 9:30am to 12 noon (closed on Sundays), Golspie’s local pool is a great option if you’re wanting some exercise (it measures 25m long). There’s also a gym onsite if you’re looking to have a workout.
Where to stay in Golspie
There is a good choice of accommodation in Golspie including budget options, hotels, B&Bs as well as self-catering. Here are some suggestions:
Bed & Breakfast in Golspie
Hotels in Golspie
→ McGregor’s at the Ben (check Tripadvisor reviews)
Unique accommodation in Golspie
→ Birdwatcher’s cabin (sleeps 2)
For something really unique, try the Birdwatcher’s cabin! This little one-bedroom wooden cabin is a wee gem! It’s located in Balblair Woods with views of Loch Fleet. A must for nature lovers and bird watchers.
Self-catering accommodation in Golspie
This is our favourite kind of accommodation when travelling as a family. It gives us plenty of space, an area to cook and eat in as well as the option of catching up on some laundry (yawn!). The following places all get great reviews:
→ The Apartment at Allt-Sagart (1 bedroom, sleeps 4)
→ Thistle Apartment (2 bedroom, sleeps 4)
→ Wilsons (3 bedroom, sleeps 6, next to beach)
→ The Station House (4 bedrooms, sleeps 8)
→ Drummuie House (5 bedrooms, sleeps 10)
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