Favorite thing: While relaxing along the River Ness, we came across some interesting birds who didn't seem to mind hanging around in close proximity to us. One bird (a guillemot, I think... though I'm sure someone will correct me if this isn't the case) landed right in front of our bench and seemed happy to pose for us. A stork also dropped by to check on us. Even Minifrosch didn't scare them, though they did move on when a local dog loped by.
Inverness (Scottish Gaelic: *Inbhir Nis*) is a city on the North-Eastern cost of Scotland, and calls itself the "capital of the Highlands".
"Inver" means "Mouth" and "Ness" refers to the River Ness, which flows into the Loch Ness. It flows from nearby Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal and connects Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy (to the west). The city and surrounding areas are now home to approx. 70,000 people.
Right by Inverness is the Moray Firth: this is a roughly triangular inlet of the North Sea, north and east of Inverness. It is the largest firth in Scotland. The Kessock Bridge spans the Moray Firth, connecting the city of Inverness to the village of North Kessock and the Black Isle.
An important day came for Inverness in the year 2001 when the town was granted city status - the first new city in Scotland for over 100 years, and in recent years it has proudly become one of Europe's fastest-growing cities and is frequently placed in the top five most desirable places to live in the UK for its quality of life (and lifestyle)!
Fondest memory: Inverness is also rich in history and here are some examples of the city's most memorable events:
Legend has it that in 1040, Macbeth (Shakespeare) built his stronghold in Inverness. In 1158 King David of Scotland awarded Inverness its charter as a Royal Burgh.
Robert the Bruce (yes, the guy you saw in *Braveheart*) seized the first of the city's 5 castles from English forces in 1307 and in 1562, Mary Queen of Scots ordered the Governor of Inverness Castle to be hanged for refusing her entry to the Burgh (she wasn't the kind of woman you'd want to upset!).
Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite troops were defeated in the famous Battle of Culloden - the last battle to be fought on British soil - in 1746. Thereafter, Fort George (now considered the finest 18th century fort in Europe) was established just outside the city.
In 1921 the Inverness Town House hosted a historic meeting of the British Cabinet (the only British Government Cabinet meeting ever held outside he city of London).
For more information about the history of the city you can visit Inverness Museum, near the castle: http://inverness.highland.museum/
or visit this WEBSITE:
--> CLICK HERE for my tip on Culloden: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/21e76d/
--> CLICK HERE for my tip on Inverness Castle: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/21e782/
Catle Wynd/Bridge street
Inverness, Inverness Shire IV2 3BJ
- Tel.: (+44) 01463 234 353
- E. mail: email@example.com
* Some websites:
Pubs close there doors at midnight on the weekends, its very strict, they cant bend the rules so be in before.
Johnny foxes, Hootananys, and the Market bar the best to visit for live music. All free and only 5 minutes walk from each other.
Tesco superstore open 24/7 just 3 km from town centre. Its the biggest superstore in the highlands.
Above inverness is pretty bland, so go west, its the way to the islands and the best scenery.
Favorite thing: I think most people have heard of Loch Ness at some point in their lives and we were no different. Although we didn't see "Nessy" we did take a (rather bland) photo... It would be very pretty on a nice day though I think.
What to Expect:
The Inverness economy is growing, and with the Scottish Executive (government) relocating many beaurocratic jobs here from Edinburgh there will be more money swilling around.
One product of this growth is the new enlarged Eastgate Shopping Centre - a generic, unsightly block of modern building on the outside and a somnambulists dream inside, with false palms, slow motion escalators and artificial light, heat, fashion and people, a slow suction of money and mind. The area of choice for wannabe annorexics and pop stars to parade.
Outside, the newly created piazza (?) competes with passing buses and cars to create some sense of ambiance, rest and space. It fails. Only bagpipes can probably match the screech of traffic brakes and diesel rumble.
One street (Main / High Street has been pedestrianised and this is the saving grace of Inverness. For the rest of the streets you are unable to enjoy the high level architecture because of traffic, pollution and a streetscape of charity shops (thrift), bars, travel agents and trinkets.
Fondest memory: From the bus / train stations, walk onto the busy street, cross over and walk through the covered "victorian market" until you reach Church Street (see off the beaten path tip for bookshop). Turning left will send you towards this pedestrian street, the far end of which you'll spot Macdonalds - the most obvious landmark. Just beyond this is the Tourist Information Office. Its about 10 minutes with a rucsac.
Detailed Map Inverness
Favorite thing: The first Locks were easy handling, as we were lucky to be almost alone. This gave us good time to get used to things. Usually the locks are full, and there can be 3 rows of boats inside at a time. With the turbulence as the water is let in (or out) you have to be quite vigilant not getting your boat scratched or banged up. Good large fenders and a fender plank is a must. Also plenty of solid rope.
At the top of the Muirtown Locks, we entered a longer stretch of canal. It was a totally new experience navigating on a narrow man made Canal. We of course had to use the engine, as there is no room for sailing other than on the lochs (lakes).
It was quite relaxing “driving” through the countryside and watch the scenery pass by.
Favorite thing: It was indeed a new experience to look down at the town of Inverness from the deck of a sailboat. It did feel sort of unnatural sailing above the rooftops. This was however nothing compared to what we were to see at the other end of the canal looking down to Fort William from the top of Neptune’s Staircase.
I was not used to see “road” signs form a boat, but the one we saw here was best followed. It was a warning to stay off the one edge of the canal, as the water flowed over to the river. A small boat with limited power could get sucked off the canal...
Fondest memory: Read from the ships' logbook in the travelogue here:
None of us had ever sailed in a canal before, and we had read a lot before sailing over. There were a lot of strict rules and regulations, and we understood that there would be a full inspection of the boat to see if we were worthy of entering the canal. Nothing happened. We paid for the entry and sailed happily on our way into the canal.
We had also read that we would have to be at least 4 people to man the ropes in the locks, so we were a bit nervous how that would work out as we were only 2. That also turned out to be no problem at all. But watching a few other boats managing to make problems, I understood why they recommended 4.
As far as I remember there was one more lock after the sea locks before we entered a larger basin were the marina was. The marina is owned by the British Waterways, and using a birth there is included in the Canal fee. It is a pleasant marina with all facilities.
We came in the morning and decided to stay till the next day since we had some repairs to do on the boat. (We hit 2 storms crossing the North Sea). We found a Volvo Penta dealer for engine parts a 20-minute walk up the canal, and there were many supermarkets next to the marina for supplies
In the evening we had a good shower and found a great pub down towards the sea lock. There we met a group of English sailors that could tell hair-raising stories of Americans in rented boats that sailed the locks sideways! They had scratches on their boat to prove it :-)
We arrived first at the sea lock midnight the day before, but found it closed. We had to head back to the river entrance where the harbour for Inverness is. We were quite tired after our adventure crossing the North Sea from Norway. (See the story in “off the beaten path”). In the morning we discovered that there in fact was a separate harbour for small boats with all facilities. Next time we’ll use that…
Next morning we arrived and entered the sea lock in sunshine with great expectations for the canal.
At the Muirtown Locks we entered the first of 4 locks. As we tied up and waited for the water to rise, I noticed a rather large seagull sitting on the left edge near the next lock. “That’s interesting,” I thought, “He’s watching the water rise too….”. As the next gate opened and we started moving forward into the next basin, the bird flew up and settled at the same spot in front of the next lock.
After we tied up there, I asked the lock keeper if that seagull was employed by the British waterways. He laughed and said no, but there was an interesting story about that seagull. He explained that this particular seagull had learned that the water from the canal was rich with eels. And when the locks opened and the water came pouring into the basin, there would often be eels in the water. The seagull also made certain there was no competition by fighting off any other seagull that dared come near.Continued in part 2
(if you enlarge the picture, you will see the seagull on the right side, waiting for his catch)
The next lock opened, and sure enough, the seagull flew up and settled once again at the same spot at the last lock. He sat there as the water started pouring in, and all of a sudden he dived into the basin. A moment later he was back up on the edge, but this time with a large eel in his beak! We watched in fascination as he manoeuvred the eel so he had the end in his beak, and then with a whip of his head the eel slowly was swallowed down his throat. It was an amazing sight! His stomach bulged with the large eel inside, and we wondered if he in fact could fly with the extra weight. He had in fact learned a trick here too. He used the hill on the side of the locks. He started running down the hill flapping his wings and jumping. After a certain distance and an extra high jump, he pulled up his feet and slowly gained altitude.
The lock keeper assured us that the seagull would be back the next day for his next eel.
The King of the locks....