This post is part of a paid partnership with VisitScotland to inspire folks like you to safely explore and discover your own turf because hame is where the heart is. On this trip, we were exploring dog friendly Inverness.
If only it was possible to add an eye roll emoji to a blog title cause when I say “exploring the Highland capital with our two” – I really, really mean our two. We spent from 10am to 10pm in Inverness city keeping our two entertained. But honestly, it was their trip, we were just living in it. I must add, that due to covid restrictions, we had to leave the pub at 10pm. We could have comfortably stayed longer. Even with our two.Callie, our verging-on-deaf angel lab, has long been a blog dog. She loves it. Wherever we go, she is the first to explore every last nook and cranny. She actually has a bit of a reputation for it. She’s a 7-year-old rescue dog from the SSPCA. We love her to bits, she has been nothing but a blessing.Then there’s Corrie. Corrie is a puppy. Corrie is a 6-month old wired vizsla x collie. For this reason, he has exuberant legs and a dangerous brain. He is also a complete and utter dweeb. He had never been on a blog trip before this dog friendly Inverness visit, but he’s a genuine case so we were a tad worried that he may scale the walls of The Glenmoriston Hotel and dance naked on the roof, whilst barking to the moon in Hungarian. Spoiler alert; he didn’t. But, it didn’t mean that he wasn’t considering it. Overall, he did very well on his first blog trip, which is promising considering we have not long given up our house to live full-time in Van Heilan.
Dog Friendly Inverness: A doggo day in the city
We are currently living 15 minutes out of Inverness on a cosy wee croft whilst we do our van conversion, so we didn’t have far to fall in the morning. We set off for Inverness at 9.30am, stopping past famed local baker, Harry Gows. No trip to Inverness is quite complete without a stop at Harry Gows. The wee Highland baker has come so far since I was a wee lass growing up in the Highlands.
There is a brilliantly placed Harry Gows shop as you come over the Kessock Bridge on the way to the Black Isle. They do the best baked goods ever, I am yet to be proven otherwise. Which meant Callie and Corrie were starting off their day with a sausage roll. Insert further eye rolls here. Seeing as Harry Gows have lots of shops these days, we stopped off at their Beauly shop. If you are an Outlander fan, Beauly is home of Beauly Priory, the location where Claire meets the seer Maisri in the Outlander books.
Hametown Tourist Tip: The best savoury bakes to order at Harry Gows include; a sausage roll, a tattie pie, macaroni pie, and soup and a toastie. The best sweet treats to order at Harry Gows include; a marzipan apple (wow), a dream ring, a snowball, or a strawberry tart. Oooooosh.
The Beauly Firth
I grew up in the Highlands and lived not too far from the first place on our itinerary. It was so weird to come back as a hametown tourist. That’s the beauty of exploring your home turf, there are so many places you just don’t think to explore that are right on your doorstep.We parked at the Muirtown Basin, which is a large port area on the Caledonian Canal. It sits just above the first sea lock where the canal meets the mouth of the Beauly Firth at Clachnaharry. We passed by the Muirtown Marina, home to boats of all sizes, before walking over the canal locks at the railway crossing and heading out to where the canal meets the Beauly Firth. The views over the Firth and the Kessock Bridge are lovely from here.Hametown Tourist Tip: It’s definitely worth checking tide times on your walk here as you may catch views of dolphins on a rising tide.
The Clachnaharry Inn
After our walk, we crossed over the picturesque railway bridge and headed into The Clachnaharry Inn for a good old pub lunch. I haven’t been to The Clachnaharry (or The Clach) since I was about 10 years old. My parents used to take me and my brother for walks through the “Snow White Woods,” over the top of Craig Phadrig, and down the other side of the hill where we would stop at The Clachnaharry for lunch. The woodland is not typically known as the Snow White Woods, by the way, this is just what I’ve always known it as. This is a really lovely and lesser-known walk in Inverness city but it is a really bonnie one. The Clachnaharry Inn has won numerous dog-friendly awards over the years so what better choice for Corrie’s first dog ‘n’ blog adventure… I’m not gonna lie though, I brought all manner of gadgets, bones, and dog treats to try and encourage pristine behaviour. He’s only 6 months old so he is going to be a terror chicken at times but I wasn’t ready for him to eat everybody else’s lunch at The Clach.
The staff had reserved us a table inside but the sun was out so we moved to the beer garden outside, which sits in a cracking wee spot next to the railway track. I think if I’ve learned anything over the last year it’s to savour those wee moments. Sitting in a beer garden with a fruity cider is one of those wee moments. It was SO lovely to sit outside for lunch. It’s just something we haven’t done in so long.Corrie only barked once but other than that was actually pretty well behaved. Haggis bonbons and breaded brie probably helped with the bribery. After a feast full of fine pub grub, we headed to our next spot. Which I wasn’t then nor now, emotionally ready for.
Hametown Tourist Tip: If you are visiting The Clachnaharry, try and tie your visit in with a walk, there are so many different starting points along the Caledonian Canal, up Craig Phadrig, and out to the mouth of the Beauly Firth. Your walk can be as long or as short as you’d like it to be. Also, if you are planning on heading to The Clachnaharry, remember to phone and book a table before your visit, particularly with the current restrictions.
Culloden battlefield is the spot of the last major battle on British soil where 1,500 Jacobites lost their lives, marking the demise of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. You can bring your dog onto the battlefield and it is free entry, but the visitors centre is a paid attraction and does not permit dogs. Scott took Callie and Corrie out onto the battlefield whilst I spent most of the visitor centre experience reading and “greeting.” Greeting is Scottish for crying.As restrictions have only eased recently, and with us visiting on a Thursday, I, at one point, had the usually busy centre all to myself, which actually made the experience, especially the immersive film, all the more eerie and atmospheric. And emotional. So many tears. Sniff.If you are planning a dog friendly Inverness trip, add Culloden Battlefield to your itinerary. It’s such an emotional experience, and even with the visitors centre, it is still very much a wild moor. It’s easy to see how the battlefield played its own part in the fall of the Jacobites. Corrie was none the wiser, but Callie, she has a deep soul. She definitely had a tear in her eye.
Hametown Tourist Tip: Due to current restrictions, please ensure that you book ahead if you are planning to visit the visitor centre at Culloden.
Not far from Culloden Battlefield, lies a group of three Bronze Age cairns known as the Clava Cairns, or the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Bulnuaran of Clava. The cairns date back 4,000 years and are incredibly well preserved. It would be rude not to mention Outlander around about here right? Although the stones do not feature in the Outlander series, they definitely seem just a wee bit… magical. You be the judge.
The Glenmoriston Townhouse Hotel
We have stayed in a couple of dog friendly hotels in Inverness but The Glenmoriston Townhouse Hotel is one of our favourites so far. Our room was is in the Windsor Suite across from the main hotel building. Our room had direct access onto a little pathway that led out onto the gardens. From staying in multiple dog friendly hotels across Scotland, this was SO handy for Scott. Because Scott does the late-night doggo loo run. Because I am usually out cold after writing articles like this. But being dog friendly wasn’t the only highlight of The Glenmoriston Hotel…The bed was CRAZY comfy. Like, oh my days. For our first blog trip of 2021 due to, well, 2020, this was such a lovely treat. The room was inherently Scottish and totally comfortable. The staff were lovely and the breakfast was perfection. The only thing we missed out on here was the brasserie. Contrast Brasserie has an enviable menu but the brasserie isn’t dog friendly. Which was totally okay to be honest because my anxiety wasn’t ready for Corrie in a brasserie. Even the words give me chills. He’s the devil in disguise. But this means Scott and I kinda need to do a whole other romancey-fancy, food, and cocktail flight in Inverness. With no dogs. Buh bye doggos!
MacGregors Bars: A dog friendly Inverness pub
Ummm so okay… I have a new favourite pub in Inverness, when did that happen? I was not prepared for MacGregors to be as cool as it is and as such, I’d like to put MacGregors Bars near the top of my favourite dog-friendly pubs in Inverness because it was just ideal. The outdoor area is heated and covered over to withstand the elements but also looks really quirky, Scottish, and cool.Oh yeah, and the food… The food is brilliant. I ordered a steak (when in Rome) and Scott ordered a salad (when in Boring) but both dishes were phenom. Aye, the peppercorn sauce was an absolute beast. Nicest sauce I think I’ve ever had and I’ve seen some sauce. And Scott’s salad came with a parmesan crisp. Which just makes me smile. So fine. So, so fine. The drinks menu was really impressive; lotsa Scottish gins, beers and whiskies from lotsa Scottish places. Plenty of choice for a refreshing evening drinky. Nom nom.Must add; we had to leave at 10pm. Things I didn’t want to do include: leaving MacGregors beer garden at 10pm. Cracking atmosphere and that was without their usual live music. I could probably just live off those lemon possets to be honest.Hametown Tourist Tips: Book in advance to avoid disappointment, especially if you’re bringing doggos. Also, when the restrictions lift, try and book in when there is live music on. You cannot beat traditional Scottish music in a cracking Scottish pub.
Grazey Days by the River Ness
Following breakfast the next morning, we picked up a couple of grazing boxes from our friends at Grazey Days. We did SO much food-ing during this trip. Like, we outdid ourselves on how much food we can eat in a day in the Highlands. The dogs were spoilt rotten too, with a new bone at every bloomin’ location. We took our grazing boxes down to the River Ness. I say all of this like it was seamless. Callie couldn’t be bothered getting out of bed. She was totally knackered. Corrie would have gotten up and started the day at 4am because a puppies energy is horrendous. As for as dog friendly Inverness goes though, grazing boxes by the river are a win.
Hametown Tourist Tip: Grazey Days is a wee local grazing business. She delivers to Inverness city or you can collect. Make sure to order in advance though, she is so popular.
Dog Friendly Inverness: The City Centre
Of course, there are lots of dog friendly things to do in the Highlands, but as far as Inverness City Centre goes, there are more and more places welcoming dogs, which makes visiting the centre and supporting local more and more accessible. We were only visiting for a day but there are still quite a few dog-friendly places we are yet to go to. If, in the meantime, you are looking for even more dog-friendly places to visit in Inverness and the Highlands, check out our Winter in the Highlands article. With being born and bred in Inverness, I think I am going to need to get to work on the mamma of all Highland dog friendly guides. I see big adventures ahead for our two doggos, and life in Van Heilan.
If you’ve been inspired to plan a dog-friendly #hametowntourist trip, why not share your experiences? If not for anyone else, but for me, so I can adopt several more dogs that I definitely don’t have room for :).