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Car Tours to Dornoch, With Dolphin Spotting

Dornoch is about an hour’s drive from Inverness, and well worth a visit. What’s more, with so many places to stop and beautiful sites to explore, we recommend doing this Scottish road trip as a day trip.

A drive to Dornoch from Inverness makes a wonderful day out and provides the opportunity to experience the very best of the east coast to the north of Inverness. Dornoch is a seaside resort, and former Royal burgh situated on the north shore of the Dornoch Firth, near to where it opens into the Moray Firth to the east and within the county of Sutherland.kessock Bridge over the Morray Firth in Inverness

The Kessock Bridge Over The Moray Firth

Leaving Inverness on the main A9 north rapidly brings spectacular view after spectacular view as you cross the Kessock Bridge heading towards the Black Isle and it is tempting to just put your foot down and just drive but doing that you miss so much, so slow down and enjoy the day.

Immediately over the Kessock Bridge on the left is an information point and Dolphin viewing stop. Stop and check out the tides times and indeed check out for any Dolphin activity before continuing north on the A9. We mentioned getting tide times because if the timing of tides is right and the tide is coming in there is a good opportunity to make a detour to Chanonry point, probably the best place in all of Scotland to view our famous Bottlenose Dolphins from the shore. To get to Chanonry point – after crossing the Kessock bridge continue 4 or 5 miles to Tore Roundabout and take the A832 to Avoch (pronounced Och) and Fortrose, follow signs to Rosemarkie golf course and just keep going till you get to Chanonry point where you can park and view the Dolphins if you are lucky.

Dolphin near kessock Bridge

Dolphins in the Moray Firth Near The Kessock Bridge

To get back onto your tour go back to Tore roundabout and take the A9 north towards Dornoch. On the road across the Black Isle, as you drive over the hill, laid out below you is the stunning panorama of the Cromarty Firth and bridge, with Dingwall at the west end while Cromarty itself is to the south-east and Nigg to the northeast.

Just over the Cromarty Bridge on the right is a good place to spot seals lying on the rocks just out in the Cromarty Firth, they are usually quite easy to spot from the car. Continuing north you pass through Easter Ross with its rich farmland and distilleries but in a short time you are back by the sea, this time the great sweep of the Dornoch Firth stretches west to east before you. At the far west is Bonar Bridge where the great salmon rivers of southern Sutherland, the Oykel, Cassley, Carron and Shin merge in the Kyle of Sutherland.

Bottlenose Dolphin SpottingDolphins Jumping in the Moray Firth

To the east, surrounded by golden beaches lies Dornoch, you can see the Cathedral spire clearly visible on the skyline. Follow the A9 as you pass into the county of Sutherland and after 3 miles turn right onto the A949 towards Dornoch where you can enjoy the rest of your day.

Dornoch is a delightful town with its medieval town centre clustered around the Cathedral. Steeped in history there are trails around town with interest at each turn. The famous beach is popular all year round and the links are home to both wildlife and wildflowers as well as the golf course rated the best in Scotland and no 6 in the world, Royal Dornoch. There is a good range of shops and places to eat in Dornoch, so there is everything you need for a great day out.

Rocks on Dornoch Beach

Dornoch Beach

Aurora at Dornoch Beach Northern Lights at Dornoch Beach

The journey back to Inverness is a treat for the eyes. If you return by the A9 you can see the wonderful views from the north side or, if you prefer, meander around Easter Ross with a trip through Tain and Portmahomack before rejoining the main road and continuing south back to Inverness.

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