We were so excited when we realised we might be able to have New Year in Dornoch at Embo House. Previous owners, lovely Louise and Joe were celebrating Christmas there, but we managed to effect a switch on 27th December – well 28th really, as we arrived at 4 am, having done battle with horrendous Christmas traffic in England and blizzards in Scotland! Louise had very kindly made us up some fabulously comfy beds, which we literally fell into.
I really can’t imagine anywhere more magical to celebrate Hogmanay than Embo House & Dornoch. The temperatures were icy, but the skies were clear and the sun shone brightly. Having fired up the log-burning stove in the kitchen, we raced down the short path that leads from Embo House to the beach, Nala our very enthusiastic labrador out ahead.
Walking to the beach from Embo House
The hills around were white with snow and the top of the beach was frozen, – excellent for walking on! Small birds ran ahead of us and even a couple of seals popped their heads out of the water to say hello.
We have been coming to Dornoch for Hogmanay holidays for the last 30 ish years, so I think I can objectively say, it has been getting better and better as a place to welcome in the New Year. The town puts on an amazing show in Castle St, in the Square, with a ceilidh band and dancing. This year, after a rather good dinner at home in Embo House, we arrived in Dornoch at 11. As well as enjoying the famous whisky bar in Dornoch Castle Hotel, we also greatly appreciated hot gin toddies, featuring delicious Dornoch Gin! Yum! As midnight approached, we danced a final “Gay Gordons” (very relieved to see most other people were about as (in)competent as us!), counted down from 10, and the lone piper appeared on the top of the Castle to pipe in the New Year, Dornoch style! …And as soon as he finished, the sky exploded with a mass of fabulous fireworks.
Wow! It only remained to sing a few rousing, communal verses of Auld Lang Syne (all with the same lyrics, obviously), and we rolled home happy that we had done full justice to the occasion!
Since then, we have been working hard to ready ourselves and Embo House to welcome visitors, who in turn we hope will be able to enjoy Hogmanay at Embo House & Dornoch as much as we have.