Fairy tales and mountain bike trails beside the Kyle of Sutherland


Let Carbisdale capture your imagination

Carbisdale has the stuff of legend - there's a storied castle surrounded by atmospheric woods and a beautiful loch where a great battle was fought. The views over the Dornoch Firth are magical and even the rock features on the mountain bike trails have fairy tale names. Whether you’re walking, horse riding or whizzing through the forest on your mountain bike, Carbisdale's quiet charm will soon bewitch you.

Parking Walking Mountain biking Viewpoint

Take a break

You'll find public toilets and a café in Bonar Bridge, and bike shops in Ardgay and Tain.

Carbisdale is a Kyle of Sutherland MTB destination, one of two sites on the Dornoch Firth with a range of mountain bike trails. The Blue and Red trails here are ideal for building skills and confidence before tackling the Balblair trails.

The Castle of Spite

Carbisdale Castle was built by the widow of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland after she fell out with her husband's family. Its prominent site is clearly visible from the railway below and from much of Sutherland. Was it built to spite her husband's family? It would seem so, for the clock tower has only three clock faces: the one facing Sutherland is blank - suggesting that she didn't want to give them even the time of day...

Montrose's last battle

The Battle of Carbisdale in 1650 led to the downfall of James Graham, the 'mighty Montrose' and one of Scotland's most talented generals. His rebel army of Orkneymen and foreign mercenaries was routed by government troops near Carbisdale loch. In the ensuing chaos 200 Orcadian soldiers drowned in the Kyle and another 200 men were slaughtered in woods nearby. 450 men were taken prisoner. James Graham escaped but was later caught and publically executed.

Contact Name : North Highland

District Office Name : North Highland
Address : The Links
  Golspie Business Park
Postcode : KW10 6UB
Telephone : 01408 634063
Email :

How to get here

Carbisdale is 40 miles (68 km) north of Inverness and 4 miles (6.4 km) from the village of Ardgay. Turn off the A836 at Ardgay and follow the signs to Culrain and Carbisdale Castle. Go through the castle entrance and you'll see the car park on your left at grid reference NH 574 951.

Using SatNav?

IV24 3DN is the nearest postcode, about a mile (1.6 km) before the forest.

Public transport

There are trains from Inverness to Culrain station, a short walk from the forest. You'll find timetables at Scotrail.

Nearby places

There are more challenging mountain bike routes and walking trails in Balblair forest 5 miles (8 km) away, while the Highland Wildcat MTB trails near Golspie are also worth checking out. For gentle walks and leaping salmon in the summer go to the Falls of Shin and for sheer forest delight, Raven's Rock is hard to beat.

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