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Everyone loves a picnic…

There’s so much to do, just a short drive from Beechwood Lodge B & B, and what could be better than a picnic in a stunning Scottish Highland location. Maybe it’s just a lunch time snack, a family get together, somewhere to stop and admire the view while enjoying a sandwich or perhaps a romantic evening meal for two in the open air.

There’s so many amazing places to choose from, below are just a selection of our favourite picnic spots that are half an hour or so from Beechwood Lodge.

Raven’s Rock Gorge
Park in the forest car park and follow the waymarked track for half a mile to the riverside picnic area on the banks of Allt Mhor where you’ll be shrouded by beech and Douglas Fir trees. In Roman times bears lived in these woods, and the 2 metre high carved wooden bear is a reminder of times past. As you return towards the car park take an alternative track to other seating areas overlooking the gorge below.

Loch Fleet
Follow the single track road along the south side of Loch Fleet (National Nature Reserve –NNR) and park in one of the designated parking areas next to the Loch. This is one of the most accessible seal viewing locations in Sutherland. Sit quietly on the grassy bank or the stony shore line and watch for Harbour Seals as they forage close by.

Pupping season starts at the end of May and runs through until early August, so if you’re lucky you may see seal pups too. During the summer months you may spot Eider and Shelduck, or perhaps a magnificent osprey.

A great place for a quiet evening picnic.

Tain
Tain is the oldest Royal Burgh in Scotland, and has cafes, shops, museums, potteries and the famous Glenmorangie Distillery close by. Pick up a sandwich or pastry from the bakery in the town centre (or a snack from one of the supermarkets) and head down to the shore of the Dornoch Firth where you’ll find a large car park, grassy banks to sit on and a track along the shore line.

Loch Achilty
Beautiful Loch Achilty is a short drive from the Victorian spa resort of Strathpeffer where you’ll find a few shops, cafes and forest trails. The freshwater loch is set within a sloping birch and oakwood forest. At the far end of the loch is a picturesque picnic area hidden amongst the silver birch, rowan and heather.

Cassley Falls
Cassley Falls (also known as Achness falls) can be found on the river Cassley close to Rosehall, Sutherland. The name is derived from the Gaelic Ach-an- Eas – the field of the waterfall.

A series of tumbling cascades provides the perfect backdrop for a daytime or evening picnic. The picnic benches are just a short riverside walk from the parking area on the minor road north of the A837 and provide a great viewpoint from where you might spot salmon leaping in the springtime on their journey upstream to spawn.

North Kessock
After a day of exploring (or shopping) in Inverness, the largest city and cultural capital of the Highland, cross the Kessock Bridge and take a slight detour to North Kessock on the Black Isle, where the Beauly Firth becomes the Moray Firth. Here you’ll find a parking area and picnic table next to the shore. Enjoy your picnic looking across the firth to South Kessock, which until 1982 and the completion of the Kessock Bridge was linked by ferry.

Shin Falls
From May to September stand on the viewing platform at the Falls of Shin visitor centre (free) and look out for salmon heading up the River Shin to where they were spawned. Some manage to pass the turbulent falls on their first attempt, while others have to try again and again.

Then follow the forest trails to secluded picnic spots where if you sit quietly you may spot elusive deer, or listen for woodpeckers tapping at the trees in search of insects.

There’s a café and play area too, so it’s great place for all the family.

Dornoch
The beach at Dornoch provides endless opportunities for picnics. There’s a picnic area with picnic tables and benches next to the beach side parking area with great views out to sea and across the Dornoch Firth towards Tain. Or take a walk from the town centre through the dunes to the magnificent sandy beach to find a quiet spot all for your yourself.

Dochgarroch Lock
Dochgarroch is just three and a half miles along the Caledonian Canal from Inverness, and not far from Loch Ness. An easy walk or cycle ride from the city centre, or park in the designated parking area on the single track road next to the canal. The picnic area is found as you cross one of the canal lock gates on to the central grassy area between the canal and the River Ness.

Watch the boats going through the locks or take a trip on one of the Jacobite cruises that leave from here.

Balintore
Balintore is one of three small settlements, collectively known as Seaboard. The harbour here is a great place for a picnic overlooking the harbour. Watch the fishing boats as they return with their catch, or walk along the track to Shandwick (from the Norse Sand-vik meaning sand bay). Don’t forget to visit the ‘Mermaid of the North’ before you leave, this 10ft bronze structure sits proudly on the shoreline north of Balintore and is great for photos.

Golspie
There are several scenic walks close to Golspie, including the Big Burn Walk to a stunning gorge and waterfall on the edge of the village. There’s also mountain bike trails, a golf course and historic buildings, and of course the spectacular Dunrobin Castle to the north of the village.

The lovely long sandy beach, accessed from the car park just off the A9 as it runs through the centre of the village, provides the perfect spot for an evening picnic after a busy day of activities.

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