Our North West Canine Critics and full-time wonder dogs, Toby and Amos, went to Scotland on a mission to sniff out the best walks, attractions in places to eat. Their human, Jess, tells us what they discovered on their dog-friendly holiday.
Toby, Amos and I are lovers of adventure and exploring so, for our Canine Critics getaway, we wanted to head somewhere we had never been before as a family. Scotland has been on my list for a while after visiting when I was younger (before I had dogs!).
Our Canine Critics getaway was to The Little Small House in bonnie Scotland.
Tucked away in a little village called Avoch, The Little Small House was just the perfect setting for our week away.
Avoch is a harbour village located on the south-east coast of the Black Isle, on the Moray Firth. Only a short drive from Inverness, we were able to stock up on lots of goodies for our stay and knew that we had a choice of supermarkets close by in case of any snack-related emergencies!
We arrived to a beautiful welcome hamper and note from the owners, stocked with some lovely Scottish treats for humans and pups. The boys even had a parcel waiting for them too, packed with lots of goodies, from new toys to enrichment and some delicious snacks.
The cottage was just perfect – really modern and spacious and with all the home comforts you could need. The kitchen was a firm favourite of mine; I love a spacious kitchen and there was plenty of cupboards for all the boys' treats and supplies – there were even a selection of spare dog bowls which I thought was a lovely touch.
The living room was gorgeous – the best place to be for a cosy night in. There was even a wide selection of games in the TV cabinet, for those rainy and cold days.
The boys had a good investigate of the downstairs of the cottage whilst dog-dad (Billy) unpacked all of our luggage from the car.
The only potential issue was the coffee table (coffee tables and blind dogs aren’t the best mix – especially when as he isn’t used to them!) so we messaged the owner of the cottage and they were more than happy for us to move the table out of harm’s way for the week. This definitely made me feel more relaxed and at home; it’s quite hard to relax when you are up and down like a yo-yo preventing Amos from head-butting tables.
The main bathroom was downstairs, which was actually very handy when coming in from exploring, especially on muddier adventures. There was ample place for us to hang up coats, leads, harnesses and jumpers by the door so that we were right ready for adventure at the drop of a hat.
Avoch was a beautiful base for the holiday. The cottage was less than five minutes’ walk to the shore so there was plenty of opportunity for walks on the beach and along the shoreline. We also found a few local walks to stretch our legs in the morning – our favourite was the walk up Ormonde Hill, a little climb but rewarding with the most beautiful views.
Ormonde Hill was the site of an ancient castle, Ormond Castle, which was built in around 1197 and was the home of Andrew de Moray – a joint leader, with William Wallace, in the first Scottish War of Independence against Edward I of England. To get to the site of the castle and to be rewarded with the utterly breathtaking views, there was a little climb up to the gate which had its own coat of arms – a perfect picture stop before the final climb to the top.
The village was the perfect mix for us. Amos can be slightly noise reactive (understandably with him being blind!) so the sleepy village was perfect to work on some training around distractions and, once you hit the farm track up in to the woods, we hardly saw another soul!
We had researched the area for places to visit/explore whilst we were away, but I had to reign myself in; as much as I love a plan, I knew that the holiday outings would be somewhat weather dependent.
We had a few days out planned for whilst we were away. Our top recommendations would be:
- Fairy Glen Falls: there is a lovely walk to the falls, which was very muddy but exceptionally beautiful.
- Channory Point: a great place to spot dolphins. Sadly, we didn’t spot any when we visited, but we did hear some when we were walking along the Avoch shore at night!
- Loch Ness: only 27 miles from Avoch, we couldn’t resist searching for Nessie.
- John O’Groats: a fair drive away but we really enjoyed our trip out for souvenirs and photo opportunities.
We can honestly say that we felt like the luckiest family alive whilst we were away! The cottage was perfect for what we needed and gave us a little break from reality to re-charge and spend quality time as a family.
The boys loved exploring Loch Ness, hunting for Nessie and dipping their little toes in the loch. They weren’t completely sold on the waterfall but LOVED wading through the mud on the route!
We haven’t had a family holiday for over a year so this was a complete dream for all of us – the boys loved their adventure mornings and jaunts in the afternoon, and Billy and I absolutely loved spending a full week with our boys! We had some lazy days at the cottage and some excellent adventures, so all in all, it was the recipe for an amazing holiday.
The boys really loved being Canine Critics. They even had special patches made for the occasion and proudly strutted around the village letting everyone know they’re a fancy pair of pooches!
When there is so much of this country yet to be explored by the Wonder Boys, who needs a holiday abroad?