Dornoch and Embo Circular.

Start. Dornoch.

Route. Dornoch - High Street - Station Road - Earls Cross Wood - Earls Cross - Dornoch Light Railway (disused) - Royal Dornoch Golf Course - Embo Links - Embo Pier - Embo Rocks - Royal Dornoch Golf Course - Golf Road - Dornoch.

Notes. Historic Dornoch sitting on the edge of the Dornoch Firth, this picturesque town boasts tranquility, stunning architecture, breath-taking scenery and as Scotland's weather goes a sunny climate. A stunning Cathedral dominates the village square, opposite the Cathedral entrance stands the Dornoch Castle Hotel another stunning piece of architecture, once the Bishops Palace. In the year 2000 Madonna had her son Rocco christened at the Cathedral the day before her wedding to Guy Ritchie at Skibo Castle. Now it was Dornoch’s turn to play host to two not so well known people (not known at all) as we stepped from the car in front of the fine Cathedral.

Our route followed High Street passed the Dornoch Castle Hotel and Jail to access Station Road, we turned left letting Station Road guide us towards the old railway buildings and a finger-post promising passage to Earls Cross Wood and Embo. Through woodland we walked, after crossing a narrow lane more woodland paths guided us, soon we arrived at an area of thick gorse, keeping straight ahead we soon arrived at a small grave stone. This marks the resting place of a man who was brought to Dornoch for burial at a time when plague was sweeping the nation, his body was refused entry and he was buried on this spot. Although harsh, this policy may have kept Dornoch free of cholera in 1832, a year when thousands died throughout Britain.

We continued winding our way along green paths between gorse, low scrub and trees soon coming upon a large stone cross, Earls Cross, this is a boundary marker which features the shields of the Earl of Sutherland and the Bishop of Caithness who controlled the lands to the north and south respectively.

From the cross it was a short stroll to the track bed of an old railway line, this guided us towards Embo, on reaching a junction we passed through a large gate, then descended to the edge of the Royal Dornoch Golf Course, a stile then allowed access to a path running behind sand dunes. This sandy trod with limited views lead towards a large caravan park, after crossing a footbridge rather than wander between caravans we opted to cross the dunes to join the beach.

It was high tide, with the whispering waters of the Dornoch Firth for company, with tiny wavelets kissing our boots we wandered over sand to Embo Pier, a ruinous affair but a good dinner stop. It was warm, calm and relaxing, we sat ages just enjoying the atmosphere of the place. When we eventually moved it was to re-trace our steps to the golf course, there we joined a track, this track ran along the edge of the golf links, it is locally known as the Golf Road, red posts marked the limits of the links, warning signs informed us of the dangers of stray golf balls, the track wound across the greens before cutting back to reach the club house, from where it was a short hop into the streets of Dornoch.

view route map.


Dominating the main street the imposing Dornoch Castle Hotel, it can boast a long checkered history. Built as a home for the bishops of Caithness around 1500, served as a school and jail, in 1857 it became a court house, in 1880 a hunting lodge finally becoming a hotel in 1947, it is said to be haunted by the ghost of Andrew McCornish, hanged for sheep rustling. Have a good nights sleep.

En route to Earls Cross Wood.

This stone marking a supposed cholera victim’s grave. This area was the site of a battle with the Danes, according to local tradition. Numerous skeletons were disinterred when the foundations of nearby Earl’s Cross House were being built.

Earls Cross, this is a boundary marker which features the shields of the Earl of Sutherland and the Bishop of Caithness who controlled the lands to the north and south respectively.

Viewing Embo with the greens of the Royal Dornoch Golf Club to the right.

Wandering along the shore line of the whispering sea.

Views back along a dune backed beach.

Views across the the Dornoch and Moray Firths to the north Moray coast.

Approaching the small harbour at Embo.

Ben Bhraggie seen from the pier at Embo.

Embo Pier a small, almost deserted harbour lies at the southern end of Embo village, formerly used for fishing it is now only occasionally visited by leisure craft and, by the amount of foot prints around walkers.

The stunning view north from Embo Harbour.

Embo Harbour captures the whispers of a lost generation.

Wandering along the tide line between the dunes and the sea.

One of Scotland's secret corners, the dune backed beach at Embo.

Views from the dunes across Dornoch Golf Course, the scrub covered ridge guided us to Embo earlier in the walk.

Viewing Dornoch Point, beyond grey across the horizon the Morayshire coast.

back to top

back to list