Golspie is a great place to base yourself when exploring popular attractions like Dunrobin Castle or walking to the summit of Ben Bhraggie. If you have a bit more time to spare in the village here are some more ideas for things you can see and do. In no particular order:
1. The Big Burn Walk
Magical, stunning, exciting...whatever superlatives you use to describe this, they will never be enough. You have to experience it for yourself.
You enter a gorge with fast flowing water, crossing it back and forth on wooden bridges. You go deeper into the gorge that is lush with forest and plant life. You turn a corner and wham! There it is, powerful, impressive and mesmerising- the walk ends at a roaring waterfall. Come at different times of the year to experience changes in the foliage, like carpets of wild garlic and bluebells.
2. Look for Scotland's oldest post box
Golspie has the oldest post box in Scotland. It features Queen Victoria royal insignia, rather than the Queen Elizabeth II insignia that you normally see on boxes. It is on the wall of the Golspie Inn. Once you have found it why not pop inside for a bite to eat...
3. Lunch or dinner at the Golspie Inn
This historic coaching inn is over 200 years old and one of the prettiest buildings in Golspie, It was the first inn in Sutherland to have a bar and today you can try a tasty beer from the Loch Ness brewery. My favourite is Caith Ness, which is made with porridge oats and Caithness honey. Fresh, local and seasonal is the ethos in the kitchen. You have to try the fish and chips. The haddock is thick and succulent and the chips are sheer perfection- crispy on the outside and fluffy as a cloud on the inside.
4. Find the fishy gargoyles
Somewhere in the village there are these otherworldly creatures sprouting out of a wall. You will find them on the Countess of Sutherland memorial fountain. I read a description of the fountain that called them dolphins, but I don't think they look much like a dolphin. They are fantastical creations that transported my imagination elsewhere. Brilliant.
5. Go villa spotting
On Fountain Road, where the fishy gargoyles live on the fountain, there are several fine Victorian villas. I particularly liked the one with the yellow door and window frames. I could smell wood burning fires and this had me dreaming of an armchair, a whisky and a grand sitting room. Golspie has many beautiful houses that can be seen on a walk around the village.
Also on Fountain Road, Coffee Bothy serves superb coffee in cute, cosy, rustic surroundings. Try the coffee and walnut cake to boost your caffeine hit- it is the most coffee tasting cake I have ever tasted (in a very good way). Opt for a takeaway and walk down to the sea front promenade, located just behind Main Street. There are benches where you can sit and ponder the expanse of the North Sea and watch oystercatchers and other seabirds go about their business.
7. St. Andrew's Church
This white eighteenth century church is on Main Street. Open the iron gate and step into the church yard for a peaceful moment. There is a sprinkling of snowdrops in the spring and you will notice an interesting mixture of windows of different sizes as you walk around the outside of the building. This was originally the Earl of Sutherland's family chapel and later became the parish church.
8. Walk across the grass bridge
Golspie Old Bridge no longer carries traffic over Golspie Burn, but you can still walk across it and experience the interesting sensation of a grass covered bridge. There are benches, so you can take a seat and enjoy the location for a few moments. This is one of Thomas Telford's bridges, the renowned engineer who had been tasked with a massive project of road and bridge building in the Highlands at the beginning of the nineteenth century. There is an obelisk in the middle of the bridge that has a Gaelic inscription with an English translation below- it marks this place as a rallying point for the clan Sutherland.
9. Loch Fleet
Loch Fleet is a nature reserve, located about 3 miles from the centre of the village. The quiet road to the loch is ideal for cycling. There is a chance of spotting wildlife like otter, wild cat, pine marten, osprey and seals. There are woodland and coastal walks.
10. Visit a Caithness stone workshop
At Sutherland Stonework, next to the Big Burn Walk, you might catch the workshop in action. There is a cutting machine out the back and slabs of Caithness Stone lined up. This stone can only be found in the far north of Scotland, so if you are looking for a unique souvenir this could be just the thing. There is a showroom where you can view the range of work on offer. You could get a worktop, house sign, window sills or whatever your imagination conjures up. Their website states "We will make anything in stone."
Golspie is 50 miles north of Inverness and takes just over 2 hours to reach by train. If you have come this way to see Dunrobin Castle you will likely travel through Golspie as it is about 2 miles from the castle. Also worth visiting is Carn Liath Broch, 3 miles from Golspie and 1 mile from Dunrobin Castle.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.