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).
Head across the bridge to the Black Isle, specifically to the village of North Kessock, where you'll be able to see the Moray Firth dolphins up close.
North Kessock lies on the south coast of the Black Isle, at the narrows where the Beauly Firth becomes the Moray Firth. This relatively narrow waterway is a great place to watch the dolphins as they follow the tide (and subsequently the fish!) in the morning and again in the late afternoon.
Most of North Kessock is laid out along a single street running along the shore... it's this main street where you'll find some benches for sitting and waiting for the marine spectacle to begin.
You'll regularly see people standing down by the water's edge (near the lifeboat station), and it's amazing at how close the dolphins will sometimes come to the shore to check out their audience! They truly are curious animals :-)
Of course, for more in-depth insights into the lives of these marine mammals you can also visit the North Kessock Dolphin & Seal Centre: http://www.highland.gov.uk/leisureandtourism/what-to-see/visitorcentres/northkessockdolphinandsealcentre.htm
The Black Isle is just a short distance north of Inverness, and an interesting sidetrip. The drive along the narrow roads provides rural scenery and a few small towns. Worth a stop is Rosemarkie. There is a small museum, the Groam House Museum, with some well cared for displays and friendly docents. You'll probably spend more time down the street at the Plough Inn, a delightful old pub. Beer is, of course, always better in a small local place like this.
Contact information is for the museum.
The Black Isle, a peninsula really, is just north of Inverness and an interesting sidetrip from the city. The Black Isle Brewery is truely an authentic beer lovers find. Its a tiny operation, but with a tour (maybe five minutes - the operation is basically one room) and tasting room where you can buy some bottles for the road. This is the real thing, craft beer made by locals.
Inverness-shire is large and exploring the district when the weather is hot and sunny is a pleasant activity.There is something so relaxing about being surrounded by plants, animals and beautiful views. We all need to free ourselves from the stress of modern life, and put ourselves in touch with the natural environment is a good way of doing it.
Once you have probably had lunch and visited Ullapool, go back along road A835 until the junction with A832, and take it on your right, a few meters away, you will find Corrieshalloch Gorge. Visit the falls.
After resting in Gairloch for a while, let's go back to Inverness, but don't worry, the landscape keeps being lovely.
Leave Gairloch (first two pics) along road A 832 again, and after some 15 kms. you will find Loch Maree on your left (3rd pic); the rest of the road until junction with road A 835 is nice too. Then, road A 835 to Inverness.
The Caledonian Canal runs for 60 miles along the Great Glen from Corpach near Fort William in the South West to Inverness in the North East.
The canal was started in 1803 to plans produced by Thomas Telford following survey work by James Watt thirty years earlier. It was the biggest of the building schemes undertaken by the Government to provide work and stem the flood of emigration from the Highlands.
Of its 60 mile length, 38 miles are along Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness, with the remaining 22 miles being through canals proper. The biggest problem faced by the designers and builders was one of level; and along the length of the canal there are no fewer than 29 locks.
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.
* Loch Ness:
It lies along the Great Glen fault line a deep geological rift between Inverness and Fort William, dividing the north east highlands with the south west. Loch Ness is about 40 kms. long, up to 250m deep and is known the legend of the monster
* Unquhart Castle:
Overlooking Loch Ness. Urquhart is one of the largest castles in Scotland, with a long and colourful history, built in the 1.230s and seized by the English in 1.296.
* How to get there:
From Invernes, take road A 82 that goes along the west shore of Loch Ness. Halfway, you will find Urquhart Castle.
* Some websites:
For Loch Ness:
For Unquhart Castle:
The route down the eastern side of Loch Ness from Inverness is definitely the "road less travelled." One lane in many places, but has parking areas which allow access to the shore of the Loch. A couple of spots that are opposite from Urquhart Castle, which make for great pictures. Very pretty drive.
We visited Ullapool as a daytrip from Inverness. In July 2010 we explored the Highlands on a rented car, based our stay on some "major" locations' B&B, and used them to explore around, sometimes even a bit further, since during summer months days are long, sun rises early in the morning and sets late in the evening.
Ullapool, as mentioned before, was a daytrip from Inverness, and, weather wise, it was the worse day we spent in Scotland: it wouldn't stop raining, wind was blowing so hard I was afraid of getting too close to the shore, and it was freezing cold! Looked like a stormy January day in Lisbon rather than a mid-July summer day.
Neverthless, Ullapool enchanted us, it's a beautiful, weather beaten, fishing village; when going to Ullapool from Inverness you come across majestic green scenery, rolling hills, lagoons and everything you'd expect for Scotland. Also, the seascape is imposing, hard, beautiful, … words are scarse to describe it.
Basically, Ullapool consists of some streets and the port.
It's a small village, and I've read that with its 1.400 inhabitants it's northwest's main centre of population. I'm sure this number rises during summer months, because when we visited, even though it was terrible weather, there were a lot of visitors around. Also, many hikers base their stay here as neighboring mountains and coastline provided nice walks and hikes. Furthermore, Ullapool is the starting point to wildlife cruises and ferries to Summer Isles and Isle of Lewis.
While in the village, we walked around its streets and admired the port. I love watching port movement, mainly ports of this type: fishing ports. I love to watch and photograph the colorful fishing boats, the seagulls flying crazy because of the fish (in the case fighting the wind), the decayed sea beaten paint, the cords and ropes, the fishermen, … I could spend days at a port. The day we visited Ullapool, we made a very very brief visit to the port, and photos are lousy: frozen hands didn't allow much habillity with the camera. :)
The street by the shore it's Shore Street and it houses some restaurants and souvenir shops. After a walk in the cold, rain and wind, we agreed it was time to lunch and choose a nice restaurant, … unfortunately I didn't write its name, but it serves pizzas, feels like an Italian restaurant … I choose a salad cooked with smoked salmon and patatoes, and it was a delicious warm salad, comforting and filling. The smoked salmon it's probably one of the best I'd ever had. My husband went to a cold salad and my son, obviously, delighted himself with a pizza and a freshly made orange juice to prevent colds.
The "other" main street it's parallel to Shore Street and it's named Argyle Street. There you'l find the tourism office and the museum, which we didn't visit. I enjoyed the clock on the street, which is on my third photo of this review but I didn't manage to find further info about it.
Even though we didn't make the most in Ullapool, I loved being there, and I am sure when I return to Highlands I'll visit again or even base my stay here.
For more info, check my Ullapool page.
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.
This idyllic, scenic, and peaceful walk can be joined on the castle side of the river, downtown, and takes you over footbridges to small islands in the River Ness. There are plenty of benches and picnicking areas, beautiful foliage, and items of interest like a wooden recreation of Nessie and a small pet cemetery. I recommend taking this walk from downtown to the wonderfully creative and large children's park at Whin Island, which has an adventure playground, miniature railway and even a boating pond. Also in the area of Whin Island is Bught Park, a floral display center, an aquadome (indoor swimming and water-adventure park), and an indoor ice-skating rink. Pack a lunch and some cool drinks and make this a day out.