A family friendly Highlands holiday is the perfect retreat for parents and kids alike. Recently chosen as Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel’, it is a top location for everyone in the family to tick off. We’re here to provide all the tips and tricks so you can enjoy your family trip to the Scottish Highlands.
Why the Scottish Highlands?
The real answer to this question is why not the Scottish Highlands? From Harry Potter to Outlander, the Loch Ness Monster to castles galore, we have the magic, mystery and history to enchant everyone in the family. The wild rise and falls of the glens and munros makes the perfect backdrop for a stunning vacation, family photos included.
And if you don’t take our word for it, listen to the Lonely Planet and the Guardian amongst many others!
“The wild landscapes of Scotland’s Highlands and islands offer the ultimate escape” – Lonely Planet
It is simply clear that the Highlands are the place to be.
Where to stay in the Highlands?
The Highlands (and Islands if you want to include them!) are vast. The Scottish Highlands covers approximately half of Scotland: up to 38000km2. Even with all that space, it is sparsely populated with few major cities. Your family friendly Highlands holiday would best be experienced by staying on the southern shore of Loch Ness, in a town called Fort Augustus. Less well known than the sister towns of Fort William and Inverness, Fort Augustus is the Scottish Highland’s best kept secret. The Caledonian canal runs straight through the heart of the town to meet Loch Ness. Water is the blood beating that keeps Fort Augustus flowing and growing. The flight of 5 locks is a magnificent feature of the town. Watching the system open, close, drain and expand, provides hours of delight for children and adults alike. The canal system can often be busier than the roads! Fear not for shopping delights, there are some fantastic shops around Fort Augustus including The Mill Shop, full of more tartan treat than you could ever need, and Iceberg Glass which hand blows beautiful glass trinkets right before your eyes.
Most importantly: Fort Augustus is situated perfectly in the centre of Scotland. As a result, nowhere is too great a distance with the East and West coast easily accessed in either direction. Fort William and Inverness are both 1 hour drives away, with many spectacular sights in between.
Accommodation and where to eat
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a parent in possession of a child must be in want of healthy, non-fussy food. Unfortunately when staying in luxury hotels, it is a hope that is never quite fulfilled. Whether allergens or fussy eaters, not having access to a kitchen on a family holiday can make a relaxing getaway difficult. We provide the perfect solution. The Highland Club is a set of self-catered apartments with all the amenities and services of a hotel*. Each apartment contains a luxury kitchen fitted with all the gadgets you may need to whip up a delicious family meal. Basic supplies are provided, including olive oil, salt, pepper, washing-up liquid, washing machine tablets, fabric conditioner and cleaning materials. If you need inspiration, check out our new series of Scottish inspired recipes! But don’t worry if you don’t want to cook. There are many delightful restaurants surrounding The Highland Club including the award-winning Boathouse. Fort Augustus also contains a butchers serving freshly made pies and the local fish and chippy. The options are endless.
Each apartment is fitted luxuriously with hypoallergenic duvets and pillows. The beds are made up with the finest Egyptian cotton linen, with apartments containing a king-size bed for the grownup and twin beds for the children. Our bathrooms include dermatologist and paediatrician approved Child’s Farm toiletries for your babies and children. As for entertainment, which we will cover below, each apartment contains a TV and DVD player to keep your kids occupied in the early hours. It is a fuss free vacation simply waiting to happen.
*We do not provide room service.
Whilst booking accommodation, one of the key questions in your mind would be: what activities are available for the family? As The Lonely Planet pointed out, the Highlands are renowned for their wild landscapes. A culture of activities have opened up to take full advantage of this wonderful resource. From hiking, cycling, archery and an abundance of other options for your family friendly family holiday. We’ve provided some of our favourite below. To find a full list, please read our previous post on activities in Fort Augustus and around The Highland Club.
Loch Ness Boat Tour
For families with children over the age of 5, we have to recommend one of the most unique and family-friendly tours in the world: a RIB speed tour on Loch Ness. Launching from the docks in Fort Augustus, you will quite literally bounce off the water, speeding all the down to Urquhart Castle and beyond. The best part about this tour is that all the family can get involved: there will be no bored child on the boat as the wind whips everyone’s hair back! You can enjoy the unique views from the centre of the Loch towards Urquhart and beyond! This tour is also undoubtedly one of the best chances of spotting Nessie lurking in the depths! If your child is a certified Nessie hunter, forget driving. On the Loch, your views will be unobstructed and you’ll be moving across the Loch as fast as Nessie herself!
If a RIB speedboat may be a little too much for young children, there are other boat tours offered from local Fort Augustus companies that provide an equally exhilarating experience!
The Highland Club playground
Tucked away in our beautiful grounds, you will find a fully equipped playground for children of all ages. They can pretend to be pirates on the lookout for Nessie or jungle explorers clambering over nets and testing their fortitude. It is only moments away from your apartment at The Highland Club and provides the perfect activity for the kids to enjoy and tire from. You can then enjoy a quiet and relaxing evening in the comfort of your apartment!
For guests staying at The Highland Club, Loch Ness may pose a fantastic body of water to have a dip in but for children it is ill-advised. With depths of up to 230 metres, Loch Ness is the second deepest loch in Scotland. It has temperatures as low as 18oC, making it too cold to go swimming in without a wetsuit. So, you might want to find another place for any water babies in your family. Inverness Aquadome Leisure Waters has more slides and wave pools for a family friendly day in the water!
If you don’t want to go as far afield for some splashing about, don’t forget about The Highland Club’s own pool and sauna. Set in the old chapel, it is beautiful and unique space for an afternoon of swimming fun – though we don’t quite have the slides!
Indoors at The Highland Club
Do not fear if the rain hits the Highlands, and it looks too gloomy to escape The Highland Club. Our walls hold as much magic as Hogwarts, or at least all the activities you could need to enjoy a rainy day. We’ve mentioned our pool above, but there are plenty of other child-friendly activities to discover. Take the Club Lounge, which was converted from the monk’s refectory. It now holds a state of the art snooker table, and a smaller pool table for the kids to enjoy. Teach them the proper technique to pot a ball and watch them play for hours! Otherwise, there are ping pong tables dotted around the cloisters and a giant chess set in the Cloister Garden.
We hope we’ve provided you with an excellent guide for your family friendly Highlands holiday. Our magical landscape is open to all and will give you a magical, unforgettable holiday.