Inverness

Inverness is the capital of Highland Region and it is the northernmost city in the British Isles.

The city sits upon the banks of the River Ness where it flows into the Moray Firth.  The city has many attractions for visitors as befits the fastest growing city in Scotland.

It is famed for its proximity to Culloden Moor where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite Army was crushed by the Duke of Cumberland’s men.

culloden_battlefieldCommerative cairn at Culloden Battlefield

On April 16th in the year 1746, The Battle of Culloden was the last to be fought on British soil and it effectively and brutally ended the Jacobite Rebellion.  The battlefield is preserved by the National Trust for Scotland and has an excellent visitor centre.  Visitors can immerse themselves in the battle using the centre’s interactive audio visual displays or choose to walk on the battlefield itself where audio tours bring the history to life.  The exhibit is only 7 miles from Inverness.

As a direct result of the rebellion King George II commissioned the construction of Fort George (located 11 miles to the north east of Inverness at Ardersier point).  The Fort was designed to prevent any future uprisings in the North and it is constructed on a scale that needs to be seen to be believed.  The site is readily suitable for visitors of all ages and is wheelchair friendly.

Aside from the history,  Inverness also allows visitors ready access to the beautiful surrounding countryside.  The Ness Valley leads back up into Loch Ness and the Great Glen.

The Loch Ness beauty is arguably best appreciated form the water itself and The Caledonian Canal allows for navigation along the Loch from the Beauly Firth to Corpach, near Fort William on the west coast.  This marvel of 19th century engineering was commenced in 1803 and was finally completed in 1822.

The canal has 29 locks and four aqueducts. The cancel tow-path allows for cyclists to take in the scenery. The system was refurbished between 1995 and 2005 by British Waterways and attracts over half a million visitors annually.

Loch Ness is, of course, home to Scotland’s most famous monster – Nessie.  A ten minute drive from Inverness will put you on the banks of the Loch.

The Loch Ness Monster has been sighted on and off for hundreds of years but the legend really takes hold in the 1930’s. The building of the Loch-side road in 1933 has lead to an increase in sightings.  Theories abound as to the nature of the ‘beast’ but this had little effect upon Nessie’s allure. Many claim that the ruins of Castle Urquhart are a good place for spying the fabled beast.  Fortunately, the Castle has its own charms should your attempts to see the monster fail.  Loch Ness cruises are available most of the year.

If you are more drawn to actual zoology rather than crypto-zoology then you are spoilt of choice in the highlands.

‘Seafaris’ and fast boat trips can be undertaken from the riverside and it is not uncommon for bottlenose dolphins, porpoises, commons seals and the occasional Minke whale to be spotted.

Nearby Chanonry Point (about a 30 minute drive) is the perfect spot to see dolphins in their natural environment.  They can be seen from the shore but boat trips are available.  The region is also great for bird watchers and deer sightings are commonplace.

Inverness is also home to the Eden Court Theatre.  The theatre which was fully renovated in 2007 is one of the largest combined arts centres in Scotland.  The building incorporates three centuries of architecture in its award winning structure.  It consists of two auditoriums and two cinemas.  The theatre hosts it’s own film ( November) and book ( August) festivals. Visitors can also sample the fare at the venue’s restaurant or cafe.

Inverness also has an annual Highland games dating back to 1822.  The next games commence on July 19th and 2014 find Inverness host to the Masters World Championships on September 12th.  Highland games are a festival of traditional events (caber tossing, wrestling and hammer throwing) , music and highland dancing.  The MWC are making a welcome return to Inverness to celebrate the 150th anniversay of Northern Meeting Park opening.  The park is the world’s oldest Highland Games Stadium.

The city also hosts the region’s largest free Hogmanay celebrations – The Red Hot Highland Fling.  This years gathering will be hosted by comedian Craig Hill with the main musical entertainment provided by the Red Hot Chilli Pipers (Scotland’s favourite rock n’ roll bagpipers).  The event begins at 20:30 on December 31st annually. If your are planning a visit to Inverness please check out our accommodation section.      

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