Grannie's Heilan' Hame Holiday Park

Written by Chris Thornton | 13th of December 2021
Grannie's Heilan Hame

When I was younger, caravan holidays were a staple in the summertime. We often stayed at the caravan park in Aviemore just off the Spey River and had many great and memorable holidays. My wife Janette also grew up with caravan holidays and stayed at Grannies's Heilan' Hame, way up north in Embo near Dornoch.

In our early 20's she suggested we have a wee caravan holiday and suggested trying Embo citing the beaches, castles and scenery on its doorstep. Her parents had actually purchased a caravan in the "Links View" area which we could have the use of so it was ideal and a stone's throw from the beach.

We had a fantastic time with long walks on the beach, trips into Dornoch and visiting Dunrobin Castle which was visible across the Dornoch Firth from the beach near our caravan. The weather was also unreal with temperatures of 25°C nearly every day, it was like being in Spain!

This initial holiday has led us to return to Embo nearly every year since. Being a holiday home owner (or being related one at least!) had its perks, and we often took impromptu visits when we fancied. We now visit with our three kids who absolutely love the place and everything it has to offer.

Legendary Embo Beach

The Holiday Park

The park is in such a lovely location with Embo beach bordering it on the east and south sides. There is extensive countryside around the park and great walks to be had on the beach as well as inland.

Caravans take up most of the plots on the site with the most popular being the "Seaview" and "The Views" areas for their panoramic views of the beach and sea. The other zones are nice but don't have nice views - basically just other caravans... I would always try for the sea-facing caravans, it's worth the extra money for direct access to the beach and the view is just amazing.

Caravan we stayed at on the sea view area.

The central area of the park has dedicated camping spots for tents and caravans. There is a large central hub here with toilets and showers which are regularly cleaned. A more secluded area exists to the south if you prefer to be away from the main camping area.

A fantastic range of facilities at the busy caravan area.

The quieter camping area, hidden amongst the dunes.

It's possible to walk to the historic cathedral town of Dornoch and grab some lunch in the many nice restaurants there.

Ben Bhraggie and the infamous Duke of Sutherland statue, dominate the horizon to the north looking over to Golspie.

Wildlife

There is a great deal of wildlife visible along the coast here due to the variety of habitats, from grassy sand dunes to mudflats. Birdlife includes many varieties of ducks, terns and waders. The rock pools are also fascinating to explore while the tide is out with crabs being the most common inhabitant.

Out at sea, we have seen seals and dolphins in the past.

Rumours of a new golf course at Coul Links at the west side of Embo beach have raised concerns with conservation groups.

The Grey Seal colony at Loch Fleet, Sutherland, Wildlife Parks
The Seal colony at Loch Fleet, Sutherland.

Neolithic Chambered Cairn

Surprisingly the site has its own little bit of history with a 4500-year-old chambered cairn situated near the reception. There's not much left of it, but still amazing to think how long these stones have been there, placed by some of the earliest settlers at Embo.

Neolithic Chambered Cairn

Indoor Pool

A great selling point of the park is its heated indoor pool. We actually only just tried the pool for the first time this year and enjoyed it. It's was a good-sized pool and had two lifeguards on duty. Booking is a must as I think it would be quite popular. The changing rooms, sauna and spa bath were closed for covid so you have to come in your swimsuit etc and get changed at poolside.

Playpark & Crazy Golf

The park has an extensive sandy adventure playground with many different items of play equipment, including swings, death slide, forts and slides. The site is enclosed with a waist-high fence, which is great for keeping kids from wandering from the park and onto the road, which can be busy.

Olivia at the adventure playground

As with all caravan parks, kids seem to make friends quickly with each other and go off on their adventures together.

The adventure playground

Tennis courts are also available near the playpark and seem quite busy a lot of the time.

A nine-hole crazy golf course is available at the north side of the play park, we haven't tried this but it looks fun.

Coast Bar & Restaurant

In the main building, there is the coast bar and restaurant. They sell Costa Coffee here and there are outdoor seating options available. Most of the ordering was done with their own mobile phone app, you can order food and drinks through the app as well as pay.

The bar at the coast cafe / restaurant

We had a meal here for one of the evenings which was OK, they aren't going to win any awards but the food is fine and the service is OK. Please see the menus below.

The burger and curley fries

The half roast chicken

The menu from Summer 2021

The "Chip shop" on-site isn't good, however, we haven't tried it recently so it may have improved.

Evening Entertainment / Kids Entertainment

There is a great deal of evening entertainment available at the main complex building. There is normally an early disco put on for the kids each night. Later on, there is sometimes live music and Bingo. It's your standard run of the mill holiday park type stuff but still fun and fills in an evening if you don't want to relax at your caravan. My wife has fond memories of listening to the band "Crooked Jack" here, back in the day! Drinks can be ordered via the app too for your convenience.

Normally there is an info sheet in your caravan outlining what's on for the week.

Function hall and bar at the main complex building

Amusement Arcade

I love arcades, and there is a great range of machines at Grannie's Heilan' Hame... it is a tiny bit of a rip-off, you win tickets from the machines but you need a great deal to redeem any prizes... I think I had 150 tickets and could only get a 1 penny sweetie! The machines available are fun though, with a western shooting game being my favourite. Other games include air hockey, throw the ball type games as well as coin shelves and soft toy claw machines.

Sand art

On our last visit, we booked a sand art session for the kids. Although basic, they love this and have done it at other caravan parks in the past. The staff are great with the kids and enthusiastic throughout the session.

Fun with sandart at the main function hall.

The Beach Anchor

There is a large ship anchor embedded in the beach on the east side of Embo beach from a shipwreck in 1876. It's fun to watch the changes in tide from the caravan at different times of day, with high tide completely submerging the anchor underwater. It made a good subject for a photo with Olivia and Lauren.

Olivia & Lauren at the buried sea anchor at Embo Beach

Places to visit near Grannie's Heilan' Hame

There is an endless list of fantastic places to visit in this area of Scotland, here are a few of my favourites.

If you are looking for a nice lunch in Dornoch, we heartily recommend Sandstone Cafe for its fantastic paninis and cakes.

Golfing near Grannie's Heilan Hame

There are great options for golf too with Dornochs own Royal Dornoch Golf Course. Golspie Golf Course is also to the north with great facilities.

FAQs

Who owns Grannies Heilan Hame?

Parkdean Resorts runs the park, and have recently announced a £230,000 investment in the site. We have also stayed at Parkdean's Tummel Valley holiday park and would rate Grannie's more highly.

Enjoy lazy days relaxing

Is there WiFi at Grannies Heilan Hame?

Only at the main building/reception/food hall has free wifi, the caravan site itself does not have coverage. Mobile internet is generally good nowadays (it used to be a black hole), I can get a reasonable 4G signal in the caravan and most places of the site on the Three network.

Where is the best caravan location at Grannie's Heilan Hame?

We highly recommend the Seaview area, the caravans here overlook the best part of the beach and out to the sea. Each of the caravans has a veranda/decking so you can sit and keep an eye on your kids on the beach... but to be honest it's just nice sitting there, drink in hand, relaxing.

I was awoken one morning with the sunrise beaming through the windows over the Dornoch Bay, a truly breathtaking moment.

View from one of the sea view caravans

Is there a shop at Grannie's Heilan Hame?

Yes, it can be expensive though and there aren't many other options available! It is a well-stocked shop though with everything you would need for your stay in a caravan and some great beach toys, including kites. The next nearest place is the Coop in Dornoch, but again it can be expensive as it seems to cater more to tourists.

Top tip: The best plan for shopping essentials is the ASDA or LIDL in Tain on your way to Dornoch. Asda also offers delivery to caravans on the site so you can pre-book your items and have them arrive at your caravan at a time of your choosing (book well in advance). If visiting Asda or Lidl, remember a £1 coin for a trolley.

Lauren with her kite

Are toiletries provided at the caravans?

No, even in the more premium caravans nothing is provided, not even toilet roll (a bit mean!). Something to bear in mind for your arrival, especially if you have kids desperate for the toilet upon your arrival and the shop is closed.

My girls at the beach

Laundrette

There is an on-site laundrette which is useful if you are on a 2 week holiday and need to wash your clothes.

Are towels provided?

No towels are provided, you must bring your own. The cheapest place to purchase them if you are caught out is the Asda at Tain.

Main frontage of the seaview caravans

Conclusion

Grannie's Heilan Hame is a brilliant place to stay on your visit to north Scotland and one of the best holiday parks we have stayed at. Fantastic facilities, beaches, waterfalls, explore nearby castles and see the abundance of wildlife. The perfect family holiday in north Scotland.

Grannie's Heilan' Hame location map

Comments:

Please login or register to leave comments on this article.