A day trip through the Cairngorms would be a pleasant way of seeing the typical Scottish towns- Dalwhinnie, Moy, Carrbridge, Aviemore, Kingussie [pronounced Kin yussie]...the towns have beenbuilt of the local stone, the scenery nearby includes hills, moorland and rivers.
Just outside of Inverness - south, maybe southwest - are the Clava Cairns, prehistoric mounds of stones ringed by stone pillars of varying sizes, in the centre of which ancient cremations apparently took place. It's sort of like a baby Stonehenge!
There are signs telling you what historians know about the cairns. And you can wander around in peace; only one other group of three people visited at the same time we were there.
Well worth a look, and free unless you wish to leave a small donation for its upkeep.
If transport is by automobile it is worth the time to take the journey from Inverness down the A82 to Fort William along the banks of Loch Ness and Loch Lochy. It is a beautiful and very scenic drive especially on a bright sunny day. It takes about 2 hours and is well worth the time. Taking in such towns as Drumnadrochit, Invermoriston, Fort Augustus and Spean Bridge. So much to see and do regarding Nessie museums, craft and gift shops, whiskey shops, castles including the 13th century Urquhart Castle just a stones throw from Drumnadrochit on the banks of Loch Ness.
Another possibility of this trip is to take one of the Jacobite cruises that leave Inverness on a regular basis throughout the day and travel the length of Loch Ness calling at Urquhart Castle. There are half day and full day trips available aboard boats which travel Loch Ness. Great for photography and trying to catch that million dollar photo of "Nessie".
Another trip worth the time is on the A87 through Glen Moriston. This can be done from travelling the A82 to Invermoriston and them following the A887 out to the Isle of Skye. Again breathtaking scenery. This road travels along Loch Cluanie taking in the villages of Shiel Bridge, Balmacara and Kyle of Lochalsh before crossing the bridge to Skye. The majestic castle Eilean Donan can also be found along this route on the banks of Loch Duich by the village of Dornie.
I love this place!
Stand with your back to the Town Hall (note - town not city :) - Inverness). You will have the Tourist info to your left and Macdonalds to your right. Across the road are some phone boxes and beyond them a road, called Church Street. Down the far end of Church St, about 400m, is the book shop, on your left hand side.
In addition to books and maps (not so cheap I think, but worth searching for guidebooks, and special interest) there is a wonderful SPIRAL staircase upstairs to a cafe. The food choice is minimal, like soup and sandwich, tea, coffee etc, but it is one of the few places in Britain where you can read books at a cafe in a book shop. Good place to relax, meet friends, etc etc.
I am forever scared by the open wood burning stove, with all these books around, but I guess they know what they're doing!
Anyway, it costs nothing to pop in and browse. Well worth looking in! (Toilets are on ground floor at the back - beyond the stairs, and can be useful, in towns where tourists have to pay to pee, or where public toilets have a sordid, worrying feel, plus a nasty smell).
If you're going to be around Loch Ness, it's worth going to the Falls of Foyer. I'm not entirely sure how to get there but I'm sure if you ask in the tourist office in Inverness they'll give you directions. Just need to drive through Foyers, and then walk for about 10 minutes.
It's quite a tall waterfall (for Scotland at least) and pretty relaxing place to visit.
Sailing the outer parts of the Moray Firth is maybe not "off the beaten path", but maybe this variant is:
I have several caps. In fact I have several different things I can place on my head if the need arises. But I have only one lucky cap. I don’t know how this cap became a lucky cap, but it seems lucky things always happen when I wear this cap.
We were on our third day out from Bergen, and we had already spotted land. What we didn’t know, was that we would soon have our second storm in the same day. The sun was shining and we had the current with us. The wind however was blowing against us at gale force, and this built up high waves with short distance between them. The boat took a hard beating. At the time, the skipper was under deck and I was at the helm.
One should never wear a cap at anything more than a light breeze, but for some reason I had not taken off my cap. This was my lucky cap, but sooner or later it just had to happen. I was glancing up at the sails, and the wind got hold of the cap and blew it right off. In horror I saw it fly right into the waves behind the boat. “My lucky cap!” I cried. The skipper came rushing out fearing the worst, hearing my cries. I explained the grave situation to him while I kept a finger pointing at the cap just like you do at a man-over-board. The skipper understood my loss and shouted, “Lets save it”.
While I kept pointing at the spot, he tacked and turned the boat around. As we came close, I had to take my eyes off the cap for a moment as I fetched the boat hook. When I looked back, I couldn’t see the cap again. For a moment I lost all hope, but suddenly there it was again on top of a wave just in front of us. As we passed it I tried to catch it with the hook but it fell off.
In the mean time the skipper had turned on the engine as manoeuvring was becoming difficult in the high waves. Once again we turned around under full sail and good help from the engine. The boat crashed in the waves as we neared the cap again. It was becoming difficult to see it, and then only when it was at the top of the waves. The skipper suggested I crawl down on the bathing platform on the back of the boat to try to catch it with my hand. I did that, and hung on with one hand for dear life as I tried to reach out with the other hand. It was too far away. I grabbed hold of the boat hook and tried once more. The hook just pushed the cap and all hope was lost as I saw it sink downwards. I just stood on the platform dumbfounded as I looked at the spot where it disappeared. The waves were beating at me and I was wet from the waist down. In my mind I was trying to comprehend the fact that I would have to exist without that cap. In a flash I could see all the memories I had had in its company. My eyes were blurred, but that was because the waves were beating at me. I wiped my face with my free hand, and there it was. The cap had actually come up again. I cried out to the skipper and he saw it too about 30 meters behind the boat. Quickly he threw the engine in reverse and with the sails pulling one way and the engine the other, we came to a halt. He loosened the sails and we stated reversing. Now I had the waves full on and really had to hold on for dear life. Meter by meter we came closer. I was more under water than over, but suddenly there it was. I reached out and caught it. The cap was saved. The lucky cap.
The Clava Cairns near Cullodden are a megalithic site comprising two passage graves, a ring cairn and stone circles. It is a very quiet site in a small wood, and there were very few other visitors there with us. Some of the stones have little round marks on them, called cup marks. The cairns originally had covering stones which are now missing, so the chambers would have been closed.
As with most megalithic sites it can only be speculated what they were used for. Clava seems to have been a burial ground, but may also have served as a venue for rituals.
On the list of historic places we saw, there was an old church a little ways outside of Inverness that looked like a good afternoon jaunt. The directions to the place are kind of obscure and I'm not sure what the name of the place was, but it definately qualifies for 'Off the beaten path'. From the Torguish house, you cross M-5 headed toward Aberdeen, take the first right, follow that til you are lost, take a right and follow that for about 10 more miles. There you will find a small church replete with a cemetary dating back hundreds of years. It is a pretty interesting place to read all the gravestones and the life stories of those interred therein.
Keep drivin road A 832 wih beautiful views of Gruinard Bay, Loch Ewe and the sea itself until you arrive in Gairloch; you can have a drink at, for example, The Mountain Coffee Company, nice place.
Leave the Gorge and keep driving along road A 832 (main pic). A few kilometers later, you will find Little Loch Broom on your right (2nd, 3rd and 4th pics).
We were actually staying 1 hr north of Inverness in the Carbisdale Youth Hostel. During our stay we took a walk through this field, where we encountered sheep with huge balls. Hah!
As mentioned in 'Macbeth'.... The family who owns this castle still live there and you are allowed into most of the rooms. Loads of interesting history and beautiful grounds.