What’s New for 2023 in the Scottish Highlands

Grab your kilts, it’s adventure time. Venture North, the destination management organisation that promotes responsible tourism in the far north Scottish Highlands, has revealed its highlights of what’s new for 2023, with new hotels, wellness retreats, thermal imaging safaris and scenic paddle boarding expeditions awaiting you

1 Stay at the Tongue Hotel, Sutherland, North Coast 500

The Tongue Hotel on the world-famous North Coast 500 route in Sutherland will re-open to visitors in spring 2023 following a 3-month, £800K refurbishment by new owners, Highland Coast Hotels.

The former 19th century sporting lodge will have 19 individually-styled guest rooms and newly refurbished restaurant and bar, whilst retaining its historic charm, including original wood panelling, antique furnishings, local artwork and cosy open fires to warm you up from the brisk northerly winds.

Enjoy breathtaking views overlooking the beautiful Kyle of Tongue, the rugged Ben Loyal and gentle Ben Hope, and the Viking Castle Varrich on the headland opposite.

Overnight breaks start from £149, per night for two people sharing a double or twin room, including full Scottish breakfast. This rate is available from 3rd April 2023. For more information, visit www.venture-north.co.uk

2 Take on new ‘Thermal Imaging Wildlife Safaris’ launched in Scottish Highlands, Dornoch, Sutherland

An outdoor pursuits company based in the Scottish Highlands has launched new guided wildlife tours for visitors to enjoy after dark using the latest thermal imaging technology.

Connell Outdoor Pursuits, which is based in the Dornoch area of Sutherland, is introducing the new ‘Thermal Imaging Wildlife Safaris’ to offer visitors to the region a rare opportunity to observe animals in the wild under the cover of darkness, including deer, foxes, badgers, rabbits, pine martens and hedgehogs.

The new ‘Thermal Imaging Wildlife Safaris’ for up to three people per session, will take place late evening or at night, depending on the time of year.

Connell Outdoor Pursuits also offers a range of personalised Archery & Clay sessions, driven 4×4 scenic tours, custom activity tour packages and local fishing.

The new ‘Thermal Imaging Wildlife Safaris’ are priced at £75 per person aged nine and above. For more information about Connell Outdoor Pursuits and its new ‘Thermal Imaging Wildlife Safaris’, visit connelloutdoorpursuits.com.

3 Explore Strathnaver Museum, Bettyhill, near Thurso, Caithness (New for April 2023)

Strathnaver Museum, in the picturesque coastal village of Bettyhill, will reopen in April 2023 after a £1.2m refurbishment. Located in a regionally important historic building, the former Parish Church of Farr, Strathnaver Museum explores the fascinating story of 8,000 years of human occupation in north west Sutherland.

The museum’s new interpretation tells the story of the landscape, people, and culture in the context of the brutal Highland Clearances. Strathnaver Museum’s eclectic collection includes an intact bronze age burial beaker, early 19th century croft house display, agricultural and fishing exhibits, including the rather gruesome dog skin buoy, to contemporary art.

A must see for all those of Mackay descent, or just those wishing to learn more about the Scottish clan system, is the Mackay Centre located on the first floor of the museum.

For more information please visit strathnavermuseum.org.uk

4 Go paddle boarding, snorkelling and coasteering in East Sutherland and Caithness – The Sutherland Adventure Company

Join The Sutherland Adventure Company for some new and exciting paddleboard trips including a half day trip to see the stunning Dunrobin Castle, near Golspie.  

Snorkel the beautiful coastal waters of the east coast of Sutherland as part of a new snorkel paddleboard package.

For the thrill seekers join The Sutherland Adventure Company for some coasteering around Sutherland and Caithness, an amazing way to experience the water and have some fun!

For more information about The Sutherland Adventure Company, visit venture-north.co.uk/plan/tours/sutherland-adventure-company

5 Enjoy new luxury wellbeing retreats: Caithness and Sutherland, North Highlands

Venture north the Scottish Highlands for a new luxury wellbeing retreats in Caithness and Sutherland in May and September 2023.

Vitality is a Caithness-based wellbeing practice which supports individuals, groups and organisations to manage stress, build resilience and prevent burnout. Their award-winning day and residential retreats run throughout the year and include yoga, meditation, nature walks, mindful crafts, locally-sourced food and total relaxation in locations throughout Caithness.

The all-inclusive luxury wellbeing retreats include dinner, B&B and all wellbeing sessions, including yoga, meditation, crafts and guided walks.

For more information, visit venture-north.co.uk/plan, call 01955 605184 or email donna@vitality-retreat.com 

6 Try Intensive Healing Retreats with Oldshoremore Retreats, near Kinlochbervie, Sutherland

Oldshoremore Retreats is set in a stunning and tranquil part of the North West Highlands, just off the North Coast 500 route.

Over 5 days, a qualified mental health expert assesses, diagnoses and treats guests using EMDR, Clinical Hypnosis, Cognitive Behaviour, as well as combined yoga practise.

The bespoke individual therapy stay is run by an experienced therapist, who can help guests let go of past traumas and build resilience, including sound healing and daily one-to-one sessions of yoga and therapy to fast track recovery.  

4 nights / 5 Days  Intensive Healing Retreat  (Thurs to Mon)

  • Single Occupancy £795 or per Couple £1295 (sharing accommodation – Oct to May)
  • Single Occupancy £995 or per Couple £1495 (sharing accommodation – Jun to Aug)

Including 5 EMDR/Therapy sessions in self-catering accommodation (available all year-round). Check-in Thursday and check-out Monday.

From April onwards, Oldshoremore also offers monthly yoga and craft retreats and sound healing sessions. They also have weekly yoga and sound healing sessions that visitors can join, subject to available space.

For more information, visit venture-north.co.uk and oldshoremoreretreats.co.uk. Email oldshoremore.retreats@mail.com or call 01971 521036

7 Take on a new RIB sea tour around the most northerly headland on mainland Scotland – North Coast Watersports, Caithness

An award-winning watersports company is introducing new RIB sea tours around the most northerly headland of mainland Scotland from summer 2023.

North Coast Watersports is launching the new RIB sea tours around Dunnet Head in Caithness, as well as other selected locations along the north coast of Scotland, on request.

The new, fully-equipped RIB seats up to five passengers, so every tour will be tailored exclusively for each group, including wildlife-spotting, photography or fishing tours.

Visitors will get the chance to spot all kinds of marine wildlife, including puffins, seals, dolphins, otters, orcas and other whales.

Surf and paddle board lessons, and equipment hire at the UK’s most northerly surf school will be also available from North Coast Watersports at Dunnet Beach and Durness again in 2023.

The 1-hour private RIB tour for up to five people starts from £200. For more information, visit venture-north.co.uk/plan/tours/north-coast-watersports and northcoastwatersports.com     

For more information and to start the adventure, head over to www.venture-north.co.uk 

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