Holiday cottages in Highlands of Scotland

Reasons to visit the north east of Scotland

Fabulous beaches, ancient woodlands, atmospheric castles and superb local attractions make Nairnshire the ideal base for an unforgettable Scottish self-catering holiday. Set on the coastal plain of the Moray Firth, on the doorstep of the vibrant city of Inverness, the area is renowned for its exceptionally dry climate and long hours of sunshine in the summer. Take time to explore the wonders of the Highlands - from the fairy-tale magic of Cawdor Castle, to the incomparable atmosphere of the Culloden battlefields, all within easy reach by car and train. Spend a clear midsummer night enjoying a round of golf as the light lingers past midnight on Nairn's championship golf courses. Relax on Nairn's 7 miles of unspoilt sandy beaches, or take a boat trip to see the resident colony of dolphins enjoying the water - one of only two dolphin colonies in the UK.

Nairnshire offers a range of self-catering accommodation - from cosy stone cottages with stunning views to secluded rural hideaways and luxurious apartments in the local towns. Unique accommodation choices include a picturesque riverside cottage near Cawdor Castle, luxurious converted stables surrounded by beautiful parkland gardens in Nairn, and an elegant, traditional Victorian gate lodge near Culloden. Backpackers on a budget can experience unparalleled highland hospitality in the comfortable hostels in the area, while those seeking a romantic getaway can enjoy the log fires and sea views available in many of the farmhouses and self-catering cottages in Nairnshire.

Long ago, it was said that Nairnshire was so big that different languages were spoken at either side of the district. Nowadays, the area centres around the seaside town of Nairn, with its popular promenades and first class restaurants. Inverness, the bustling highland capital, is just 15 miles to the south, and Elgin, with its magnificent cathedral and historic ruins, is 18 miles to the east. A favourite spa town of the Victorians, Nairn became known as the 'Brighton of the North', with its unique micro-climate ensuring it has more sunshine than towns just a few miles away. The excellent Nairn Museum is a treasure-trove of curiosities and local legends; take time to learn more about the fisherfolk communities of Nairn and view artefacts brought back to the town by Victorian explorers - including an Amazonian shrunken head, Primeval fossils, battle weapons, boomerangs and prehistoric tools.

An area of outstanding natural beauty, this part of Scotland offers a wealth of delights for walkers and nature-lovers alike. The sprawling Culbin Forest and unique Culbin Sands Nature Reserve are glorious examples of Nairnshire's natural treasures. Extending east from Nairn, 9 miles along the coast to Findhorn, the forest offers a great variety of woodland walks, while Culbin Sands is a remarkable landscape of sand bars and mud flats, best visited in winter, when the sands form a safe haven for native sea birds. Discover rare species including the redshank, shelduck, eider and snow-bunting, while the occasional peregrine falcon can be seen swooping over the edge of the woods.

Whisky-lovers can begin the iconic Whisky Trail from Nairnshire into Moray along the banks of the River Spey, visiting historic distilleries and sampling world-famous malts such as Glenfiddich and Glenfarclas. Visitors in search of the Highlands' spectacular mountain ranges should visit Scotland's premier ski centre in the Cairngorms, less than an hour's drive from Nairn. Boasting the country's highest and fastest funicular railway, skiers and hill-walkers can enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views from the mountain-top Ptarmigan Restaurant.

Nairnshire is home to several historic castles, steeped in a rich history of feuds and battles, ghosts and legends. Brodie Castle is 6 miles east of Nairn and offers a captivating insight into the life of the Brodie clan, while west of the town lies the undeniably romantic 14th-century Cawdor Castle, forever linked by Shakespeare with Macbeth. Visitors can marvel at the opulent furnishing, tapestries and portraits, while the splendid gardens and the atmospheric Big Wood offer plenty of opportunities to explore. A nine-hole golf course and scenic picnic area make for a terrific day out.

A trip to this region would not be complete without a visit to the Culloden Battlefields, the site of the last land battle on mainland Britain. Take a tour around the battlefield and learn more about the Jacobite Rebellion and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Discover the ancient site of the Clava Cairns at Culloden, and marvel at the impressive group of late Stone Age and early Bronze Age cairns surrounded by standing stones; a tremendous example of the archeological wonders of Nairnshire. The nearby Fort George, one of the most outstanding and impregnable fortifications in Europe, was built in the aftermath of Culloden and designed to quell any future Highland rebellion. Visit the magnificent onsite museum and armoury to learn the fascinating history of the Highland regiments.

Nairn has been described as the Festival Capital of the Highlands, and hosts a popular Book & Arts Festival in June, attracting a range of high-profile guests. The Nairn International Jazz Festival is another cultural highlight, while the hugely popular annual Highland Games is Nairn's biggest event and features Highland dancing, athletics and a spectacular Massed Pipes and Drums march through the town. In recent years, Hollywood actress and Nairn-resident Tilda Swinton has hosted the quirky film festival, 'The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams' in the town, featuring screenings of eclectic films, with bean-bags for seating and fish-finger sandwiches for refreshments!

Visiting north east Scotland could not be easier. The town of Nairn is conveniently located on the A96, just 15 miles east of Inverness, and only 11 miles from Inverness Airport. Direct flights are available to London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and many other domestic and European destinations. Regular bus services by Citylink coaches and train services by Scotrail link Nairn with the length of the UK.

With stunning beaches, championship golf courses, ancient castles and a host of activities to be enjoyed locally, there is no better place to begin exploring the marvels of the Highlands then renting a holiday cottage in Nairnshire.

Scottish castles places and historical interest.