North Coast 500 Day 3: Brora to Wick

This is a series of articles about the North Coast 500, a 500-mile road trip through the Scottish Highlands. Associate Editor Graylyn Loomis is making the journey and will be posting here every day of the trip. Follow along on the website and on LINKS social media as he drives ever-further into rural Scotland! Click here to view posts from Day 1 and Day 2.

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I am exhausted. Today included 36 holes, 24,500 steps, and some of the most beautiful driving roads I’ve ever seen. It was also the most exciting day to this point because I had never been this far north in Scotland. It seems that the beauty grows as I get further north!

Day 3’s post is going to start with my accommodation for the night and end with the golf. Why? Because I’m writing this from a treehouse.

Ackergill Tower

I’m staying for the night at Ackergill Tower, a place with history dating back to the 14th century. After a long and sometimes bloody history, the Ackergill is now a luxury five-star hotel.

Ackergill Tower

I admittedly didn’t understand the scale of Ackergill before arriving this evening and I am blown away. I just got back from a tour of the rooms, stables (now a multi-room cottage), pub, and cliff line, and my jaw kept dropping lower and lower. They offer fishing, shooting, and falconry displays. For visiting golfers, they are located down from Wick Golf Club, which is the oldest in the Highlands.

One of the cottages available for rent is also a treehouse! It just so happens to be where I’m staying and I can attest that everything is top quality. Prince Charles has stayed in the treehouse before, so it’s certainly good enough for me.

Look out for more on Ackergill Tower in LINKSdigital and LINKS Magazine, but for now, count it as the best surprise of the trip thus far. I want to come back here with my family!

The view from the top of the tower!

Golspie Golf Club

People who visit the Highlands and only play Royal Dornoch are making a big mistake. The area has so much more to offer (I hope you’re getting that by Day 3 of the North Coast 500), including two very good golf courses only 30 minutes north of the famous links. The first I played today was Golspie. The course has links holes, heathland holes, and parkland holes, creating an interesting blend all the three styles. I would put the waterfront holes up against any at Crail, Elie, and many other famous courses, but for some reason Golspie doesn’t get the credit it deserves. That needs to change! Again, look out for more in the larger features on this trip.

Brora Golf Club

Brora is a James Braid layout just north of Golspie. It has electric fences around the greens to ward off grazing sheep and it also has stunning views in every direction. The course follows the traditional out-and-back routing with burns, dunes, and well-placed bunkers adding to the challenge. The sun finally came out during my round and made for some great photos, many of which you’ll see in LINKSdigital.

I’m running on fumes now, so I’m going to sign off. If you’ve played Golspie or Brora before, leave a comment below with your thoughts! If you’ve stayed in Ackergill Tower before, leave a comment too!

5 Comments
  1. Both Brora and Golspie are a treat to play. Let me know if you have time to stop while passing through Shieldaig. We have a friend who now offers sightseeing cruises on their beautiful bay. Stunning scenery on that drive.

  2. If you travel all the way to Dornoch and don’t go the extra half hour to Brora, then you are missing out. Going back again this summer. Great club, exceptional views and a course that is found-not constructed. Some real gems and no bad holes. A lovely place and an incredible value. Pure natural Links.

  3. Brora is great–such a cool throwback. When I was there kids were racing wagons down the hill in front of the 17th tee. They all wanted their picture taken! Truly an idyllic Scottish scene–a “natural” course and locals enjoying the land. at Brora–don’t test the fence and be careful where you lay your bag down :-). It is a great experience backdropped by mountains inland and the coast on the other side.

  4. Hope you enjoyed Brora, Graylyn. It is truly one of the most underrated links courses in Scotland, and one of the purest sites of linksland one can find. Not only does the course have so much character, but the vibe at Brora is off the charts. I encourage everyone to add it, along with Golspie and Tain, when traveling to Dornoch.

  5. I just got back from 15 days of golf in Scotland. Brora Golf Club was my favorite. A pure links style course with ocean on one side and mountains views on the other. Not a golf factory like the famous courses. Just show up and play. Can’t wait to get back!

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