Links House is situated in the coastal Highland town of Dornoch, with its pristine white sands. In addition to a number of coastal walks, including the 147 mile John O Groats Trail, there are endless forest and hill/mountain walks all over the North Highlands. Scotland and especially the North Highlands really is a haven for both casual walkers and serious hikers.
Many of these walks are very close to Dornoch but other superb hiking areas both to the south and west can be accessed within 2 hours.
Local Coastal Walk: Loch Fleet to Dornoch (2 to 2.5 hours)
This walk starts in the Loch Fleet area just south of the village of Littleferry and ends at Links House in Dornoch. Loch Fleet is an area of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) with an abundance of wildlife and the route follows the coast south along the magnificent sand dunes to the village of Embo. The path then continues adjacent to the championship course of Royal Dornoch Golf Club, exiting at the 18th green. Links House is situated just at the rear of the Royal Dornoch Clubhouse.
Distance and Terrain
The total distance of this walk from the start point at Grid 800947 to the finish point at Links House, is approximately 5 miles or 8 kilometres. The path from the start point at the gate to the sand dunes opposite Littleferry are clearly marked. Then the path disappears and walkers follow the beach all the way to the small village of Embo. Continue walking through the Embo campsite until reaching grassland and another path due south of Embo, which leads to the championship golf course at Royal Dornoch. Keep close to the coast and the path will again take walkers on to the start of Dornoch Beach which leads all the way to a large car park. At the car park, follow the road to the right and it leads to Royal Dornoch Golf Club. Links House is situated just behind the Clubhouse.
Local Forest Walk: Ledmore and Migdale Forest (2 hours)
This walk explores the Ledmore and Migdale forested area, located 9 miles west of Dornoch on the road to Bonar Bridge. The area comprises 1,730 acres of Ledmore Oakwood, Migdale Pinewood and Spinningdale Bog. It is owned and managed by The Woodland Trust and is an area of national importance to conservation. This walk takes in the forested hill area to the east of Loch Migdale before a final walk along the north bank of the Loch to a finish point on the north-west shore of Loch Migdale.
Distance and Terrain
The total distance of this walk from the start point on the minor road at Grid 665908 to the finish point at Loch Migdale at Grid 633917 is approximately 3.5 miles or 6 kilometres. The start point is at a car park on the minor road that connects Spinningdale to the village of Migdale. After commencing the walk, the path leaves the road and enters the forested area heading due west towards Loch Migdale. After less than a mile, walkers take the left path in a south direction, which leads to the high ground overlooking the Dornoch Firth. There is a nice circuit here which then takes walkers back downhill by an alternative route. The final part of the walk follows a clear path on the north shore of Loch Migdale for about another mile and a half to the finish point, at a small car park. During the late summer, walkers should look out for chanterelle mushrooms, which are often found at the side of the paths, hidden under moss!
Local Hill Walk: Ben Bhraggie (2.5 to 4 hours)
Ben Bhraggie is a prominent hill that overlooks the small coastal village of Golspie. The very visible 100-foot high statue on the summit is of the first Duke of Sutherland, George Leveson-Gower, who had inherited Dunrobin Castle and the Sutherland estates, through his marriage to Lady Elizabeth Sutherland. The statue was completed in the year 1837 and is known locally as ‘The Mannie’.
There are various walks in the Ben Bhraggie area and it also has a network of mountain bike trails and is very popular with mountain bike enthusiasts. Ben Bhraggie is 400 meters in height or 1,320 feet, so it certainly gets the blood pumping through the veins and the views from the summit are spectacular.
Distance and Terrain – there are two ways to tackle Ben Bhraggie.
Route 1 (Shorter) – The shorter route is simply to walk from the car park (Grid 829003) at the base of the hill, follow the forest trails upwards, until exiting the woodline and completing the steep rocky path to the summit. Then follow the path back down again, either using the same route or by a more circuitous route around the east side of the hill. This route takes about 2.5 hours depending on fitness levels and is approximately 3 miles or 5 kilometres. The second walk is longer and takes in the Golspie Burn.
Route 2 (Longer) – The start point for the longer route is in the car park just after Sutherland Stonework, on the left side of the main road out of Golspie at Grid 840005. The first part of this route follows the Golspie Burn under the impressive railway bridge and past some lovely waterfalls. After a mile and a half, the path takes walkers around a house that is located overlooking the river and on to another path that starts to lead towards the summit of Ben Bhraggie. Just keep heading upwards until you reach the summit. On a clear day, the views in all directions from the summit are superb.
The route down from the summit is the same as for Route 1. After expending such energy, a highlight of this trip should be a visit to The Trawler on the High Street of Golspie. This is an award-winning Fish and Chip shop, that also has a seating area inside.