A Week at Dolphin View Cottages, Hillockhead on the Black Isle: Part 1

When I told friends I was going to the Black Isle, most did not know where it was. The Black Isle is, in fact,  a peninsula in the Highlands of Scotland, located north of Inverness. Contrary to its name, the Black Isle is not an island. It is in fact a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by expanses of water, with the Cromarty Firth to the north, the Beauly Firth to the south and the Moray Firth to the east. From Inverness, it’s reachable by crossing the Kessock Bridge.


I was heading up to Dolphin View Cottages, Hillockhead… holiday properties just bought by Tim Stenton. Tim’s love of cetaceans was a big part of the decision to buy this lovely property, as it is situated right on the cliffs  above the bay with Chanonry Point and the dolphins and other cetacean visitors viewable from the panorama from the garden! Tim has spent many years visiting this area and even written a book about the dolphins here…

The area is also wonderful for other wildlife and I headed up with a rucksack crammed with trail cams, bird feeders and all my tools!

The views are simply spectacular and I could not wait to get out to explore the area and to discover what wildlife was around.


The location of the properties (4 bedroom farmhouse, 2 x 2 bedroomed and 2 x 1 bedroomed apartments) could not be better. Se up on the hill, the panoramic views and open space were breath-taking….

A bird feeding station was high on the priority list… obviously… and using some local materials, we constructed a frame on which to add a selection of feeders. #gallery-18780-21 { margin: auto; } #gallery-18780-21 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-18780-21 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-18780-21 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

We also set up a couple of CJWildlife squirrel feeders… would red squirrels and pine marten be around? Hopefully the Bushnells would tell us! #gallery-18780-22 { margin: auto; } #gallery-18780-22 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-18780-22 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-18780-22 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

We also set a number of trail cams throughout the area, but I will write a separate blog post all about those!

We spent most of the week exploring the area right on the doorstep. When moving somewhere new like this, it is tempting to travel all over. I think it is essential to get to know what is close by first, especially as time is a premium for Tim with lots to do at the properties.

We followed the footpaths from the properties and were keen to take the cliff path which then led down to a beach.

The woodland was beautiful and untouched and the path, although very steep, was stepped and in good condition. It led down to, what became, one of our favourite places and, in fact, we did this walk nearly every day! Within half an hour, we could be on this beautiful stretch of coastline, rarely seeing anyone else…