Inverness and Loch Ness - Things to do.
Inverness is the most northern city in Scotland and is the capital of the Highland Region. It was awarded city status in the year 2000 and has had a long and varied history. Situated alongside the River Ness which leads out to the Moray Firth, the scenery is breathtaking, particularly with Inverness Castle dominating the skyline. One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of Inverness is to take the walk beside the river as it flows along under the many bridges. For horticultural enthusiasts, a visit to the Floral Hall in Bught Park (at the West End of Inverness) is a must. Entry is free and there is always something to see. Floral displays are in evidence all along the river bank.
Eating out in Inverness offers the visitor the chance to sample some of the “home-grown” traditional fare such as Aberdeen Angus Beef, Scottish seafood and game as well as fresh produce and dairy products. There is plenty of choice whether your preference is for traditional fare or international cuisine! For evening entertainment there are many possibilities: the local paper (Inverness Courier) is published on Tuesdays and Fridays and has a good “what’s on” section to help you. Eden Court Theatre has a varied programme (including cinemas!) and for more advice, we recommend the Tourist Information Centre located in Bridge Street (where internet access is available). Just round the corner from the T.I.C. you will find the new and improved Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. It is open all year (free entry) situated on Castle Wynd and offers a good variety of exhibits (some “hands on”) which display the artefacts of the different ages, all with particular relevance to the Highlands and Inverness in particular.
If you are keen on sports you might like to watch the local team, Caledonian Thistle, (“Caley Thistle”) play in their local stadium or enjoy a game of golf as a visitor to one (or all) of the 3 clubs in the area. Anglers and climbers are well catered for also and you can readily buy any equipment you may need. Shopping in Inverness is a pleasure (particular mention must go to the Victorian Arcade in the city centre) and there are still many individually-owned businesses to browse in whether you are looking for Highland Soap or a set of bagpipes.
The world-famous Loch Ness is the deepest loch in Scotland, and arguably the most beautiful. It stretches from Inverness in the East to Fort Augustus in the West (over 20 miles!). There are many “lay bys” along the A82 to pull into for photo opportunities. Some of the best views are from Drumnadrochit (half way along) where you can stay at Bearnock Country Cottages and look round the most-visited castle in Scotland, Urquhart Castle.
THE GREAT GLEN WAY
The Great Glen Way is 79 miles long (127 km) and stretches from Fort William in the West to Inverness in the East. It can easily be walked in either direction and takes around 6 days to complete. Parts of the way are challenging but many sections are easily accessible and on low level paths. It is said that the best direction for travel is from West to East, with the wind at your back.
Culloden is on the outskirts of Inverness and was the site of the final battle in the Jacobite rebellion, between followers of Bonnie Prince Charlie (Prince Charles Edward Stuart) and the army of Hanoverians led by the Duke of Cumberland. It is of interest to all visitors, whether your forebears were loyal clansmen or “Redcoats”. The new, award-winning Visitor Centre helps tell the story of the battle and brings it to life very evocatively. A real “must-see” on anyone’s list.
Fort George is situated in Ardersier, a few miles East of Inverness on the coast of the Moray Firth. It was built as a military garrison following the defeat of the Jacobites, and completed in 1769. Today it is still a working army barracks where visitors to the museum and gift shop are welcome all year round. It gives a good view of military life in the 18th Century and contains an impressive display of arms including muskets, pikes, swords and cannons. If you stand on the ramparts looking out on the Firth you might also see bottlenose dolphins – they reside locally and are a very popular attraction in their own right.
This is situated on the north side of Loch Ness, a few minutes West of Drumnadrochit. The castle ruins date from the 1500’s and are still an impressive-looking feature of the stronghold with its panoramic views up and down the loch and along the Great Glen. A new and prestigious visitor centre opened recently which also contains a gift shop and café. It is the most popular of “Historic Scotland’s” destinations. You can even get married there!
ISLE OF SKYE
From Inverness, the Isle of Skye is a 2 hour car drive (or 2 hours 20 minutes on the scenic “Kyle Line”) and is well worth a visit. Highlights include the Cuillin Hills, Dunvegan Castle, Portree (the capital town) and the Clan Donald Centre.