Beware of fortune-telling witches at this otherwise peaceful glamping site in Forres
*I WAS HOSTED AT MACBETH'S HILLOCK IN EXCHANGE FOR THIS REVIEW *
Could this unassuming, tranquil corner of Moray really be the 'blasted heath' where Shakespeare's Macbeth famously met the three witches declaring enigmatic prophecies about his future?
It is certainly in the right part of the country and is frequented by visitors on the trail of Macbeth. Research has shown that it was known as Macbeth's Hillock on a map dating back to 1770 but the truth is we can only surmise about the connection.
However, witches do form a very real part of local history, with records of witchcraft trials and subsequent executions of those found guilty. We now know that these 'witches' were in fact mainly innocent women, and occasionally men, who were persecuted and tortured for crimes often based on superstitious beliefs and fear, rather than real evidence.
With so much history on the doorstep, Macbeth's Hillock makes for an interesting place to stay in an often overlooked part of Scotland. I can also confirm that it ticks all the boxes for a very comfortable accommodation option which is also dog friendly. So what exactly does your glamping pod come with?
Don't forget to pack your sense of adventure for a fun-filled stay at this dog friendly Scottish glamping site
*I WAS HOSTED AT SHEPHERD'S LOCH IN EXCHANGE FOR THIS REVIEW *
Do you remember going on holiday when you were wee? If you were anything like me you spent your days running around outdoors, clambering around playparks, easily establishing holiday friendships, improvising your own adventures and generally revelling in the freedom to explore without the worries and hang ups that come with being a sensible grown up.
Then you did grow up and those carefree childhood vacations became a thing of the past as adult holidays tend to revolve around relaxation rather than fun and play. But what if I told you there is a place you can enjoy it all?
At Shepherd's Loch Glamping Site in Aberdeenshire they actively encourage adults to embrace their inner child while offering plenty of opportunity to unwind or explore, if that is what you prefer.
The first bit of fun comes in choosing which of their unique accommodation options you are going to stay in. Some are already open and some are a work in progress, I already have my eye on the ship's wheelhouse for a future trip. If you're travelling with your four-legged friend then all but the yurt are dog friendly and all options have an open panorama over countryside and water.
I stayed in the 'Otter' which is a charming hobbit like house with lots of quirky details and a large picture window with a view over one of the lochs. The interior is surprisingly spacious with a super comfy double bed and overhead bunk, a sitting/dining area where you can gaze out at the scenery, a toilet, shower and cooking area with a wood fired range and gas stove.
Upcycled pieces like the corrugated shower lining, locally sourced wood, church pew and the cute bedroom window add lots of unique character.
My recommended things to do in Inverness and the surrounding area
Inverness is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland. It is known as 'The Capital of the Highlands' and acts as a great base for exploring the north of the country. The city of Inverness is compact and easy to explore on foot and although there are many places to visit within Inverness itself, some of the well known Inverness tourist attractions like Culloden and Loch Ness lie outside the centre.
You can travel to the city by bus or train and many attractions are walkable from the city centre but a car is advisable if you want to explore the outlying sites mentioned in this list. Inverness even has its own airport and the city acts as a gateway to countless Highland adventures whatever direction you decide to travel in once you get there.
My recommended things to do in and near to Inverness includes a mix of some of the top things to do but also some of the lesser known gems as I always aim to showcase a different side to the popular tourist places in Scotland.
I've also included a range of sight-seeing options that are within a 20 minute drive and I've marked all of the places mentioned in this handy interactive map to help you plan your itinerary.
What to do in Inverness
All of the following suggestions can easily be reached on from Inverness city centre
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
I personally think a visit to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is one of the best things to do in Inverness. The museum covers an extensive history of the area and is a great starting point for those interested in learning more about the different historical periods of the Scottish Highlands.
On the ground floor you will find exhibits dating back billions of years in the geology section and some amazing Pictish and Iron Age finds. Medieval Inverness, Gaelic culture and Highland wildlife are all covered on this floor too.
On the first floor the story of the Jacobites, Highland dress and weaponry all feature and there is even an opportunity to dress up if you feel inclined! Other exhibits include field sports, Inverness silver, Scottish identity, the Clearances and life in 20th century Inverness.
The museum is free to visit and is also home to a shop and cafe,
Things to do in Caithness - Visit the Castle of Old Wick
On the day I visit the Castle of Old Wick, the sky is stormy and brooding, the wind is howling and the sea is boiling and frothing.
Luckily, living in Orkney, I'm used to these conditions and exploring the coast of Caithness in the winter requires the same hardiness and thick layers of clothing to withstand the North Sea forces. The masochist in me actually enjoys being outdoors when the elements are at their harshest as it often means witnessing Mother Nature at her most dramatic.
After a short gusty walk along the cliff trail from the car park, during which I just about manage to stay upright, I get my first glimpse of one of Scotland's oldest castles, thought to date back to the 1100s.
I've seen some people comment that there isn't much to see, but I'm surprised that so much of the walls of the squat square tower are still standing. Let's not forget it is around 900 years old and sits in an exposed position on a narrow headland being battered by wind and water on a regular basis. I know I look pretty rough after just a couple of hours outside in those conditions!
As the waves crash against the rocks below I can imagine that this could be a bleak place to stay in the winter. However, as defensive positions go, building on a location that has sheer craggy sea cliffs on three sides is a smart choice. The remaining side on the mainland was defended by a gatehouse, two defensive ditches and drawbridge, just to make sure it was pretty much impregnable.
The castle's prominent coastal position also made it a good navigational marker and sailors referred to it as 'The Old Man of Wick'.
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