We love Dornoch, Scotland. It’s not a big town with a population of only 1200 people. But that makes it the perfect size for us slow traveler types.
What we like to do if we aren’t taking a day trip somewhere, is find a local place to spend an afternoon. One or two activities a day is our limit. We never try to cram too many things into a day (defeats the whole idea of slow travel).
So if the Scottish Highlands is on your slow travel itinerary— make sure you go to Dornoch. It’s a gorgeous little place that has lots to offer. It’s the perfect home base for day trips around the highlands. Here’s a few suggestions for things to do if you are not going out on a day trip.
1. Discover The Story of Skibo, Andrew Carnegie’s Scottish Estate at The Historylinks Museum
Historylinks is one of the very few 5-star museums in Scotland. Dedicated to the history of Dornoch parish, current displays include a golf professional’s workshop where Donald Ross honed his skills, Carnegie at home at Skibo, the shameful burning of Scotland’s last condemned witch and the impact of the Picts and the Vikings. Films include Sutherland in 1950 and the Dornoch Light Railway. Visitor translations in German, French, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. (source: HIstorylink Museum)
2. View The Beautiful Stained Glass and Gothic Architecture at Dornoch Cathedral
Dornoch Cathedral’s first service was held in 1239 and it continues today as a parish church. Originally Roman Catholic rites were observed but since the Reformation, it has been part of the Church of Scotland.
And if you’re like me…a bit starstruck (who am I kidding…completely starstruck). Dornoch Cathedral was also where Madonna baptized her son Rocco, and billionaire Elon Musk of Tesla fame married his second wife Talulah Riley.
3. Look For The Plaiden Ell in The Dornoch Kirkyard
There are only 3 left in Scotland, and Dornoch has one of them. More info on the plaiden ell here.
4. Sample Some Whisky at Carnegie Whisky Cellars
Mike is a whisky guy, and Dornoch is a whisky town (actually what town in Scotland isn’t a whisky town?) so it’s a win/win for us. In fact, we are going back to Scotland (yep, 4th time to Scotland) in October for the Dornoch Whisky Festival.
But, if you can’t get there in October, have no fear—book a whisky testing at Carnegie Whisky Cellars. The guys are very knowledgeable and Mike really enjoyed it.
5. Have A Hot Chocolate at Cocoa Mountain
6. Go To The Jail And Do Some Shopping
Ha, ha, ha–I got you on that one! In the heart of Dornoch is the county of Sutherland’s 19-century jail. In 2000, it was completely transformed into a unique shop. It has jewelry, home goods, Scottish gifts, country wear, cashmere and more.
The only ‘souvenir’ I wanted on our 5-week trip was a Barbour jacket–lucky enough this place had lots of Barbour.
Bonus tip: Upstairs is the sale area, and I saw plenty of Barbour items for a pretty good discount.
Until next time….Happy Trails 👣 Everyone!