Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 19, 2022

Inverness and the Scottish Highlands

In our armchair travels through Northern Europe we have left England and are now in Scotland.

The first city we’re visiting is Inverness on the northeast coast of Scotland at the point where the River Ness meets with Moray Firth. It is the largest city and the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands.

The Scottish Highlands stretch from Inverness north to Thurso and are separated from the rest of the country by the Great Glen, Glen More.

This ancient fault line was used to create the Caledonian Canal, a waterway extending from the west coast to the east, from Loch Linnhe to the Moray Firth with the amazing Loch Ness along the way. This mountainous region is great for hiking and biking and there are many lovely small towns and villages to see.

We begin our adventures at Inverness Castle. The castle provides a lovely backdrop that overlooks the River Ness. It is worth seeing but only the north tower is open to the public.

The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery has displays that offer a look into the city’s cultural heritage and the history of the Highlands.

The neo-Gothic St. Andrew’s Cathedral from the late 19th century stands opposite Castle Hill on the banks of the River Ness.

Abertarff House is the oldest building in Inverness dating back to 1592.

The Titanic Inverness Maritime Museum is a small interactive maritime museum with nautical displays among them the world’s largest model of the Titanic.

Inverness Botanic Gardens are lovely and a wonderful place for strolling.

Take a look at the old Victorian Market, an indoor shopping arcade that was built in 1890.

Loch Ness is a beautiful spot to visit located just a 30-minute drive from the city center, This is the supposed home of the well-known Loch Ness monster, Nessy. The lovely freshwater lake is also home to Urquhart Castle, which is one of the country’s most iconic fortresses.

You can learn more about the mythical Nessy that inhabits Loch Ness visit the Loch Ness Center and Exhibitions with displays relating to the Loch Ness monster and the surrounding area.

Even though today only ruins remain it is not hard to imagine how magnificent Urqhart Castle once was and its role in the rich history of Scotland. The castle dates back to the 13th century and you can get information at the visitor’s center.

There are spectacular views over Loch Ness and visitors have access to the Great Tower and can visit the dungeons that once held prisoners captive. You can relax at the cafe on-site and visit the gift shop. This popular attraction requires that visitors purchase tickets in advance from its official website.

On April 16, 1746, in Culloden, the last great battle was fought on Scottish soil and the fate of the Stuarts and Scotland was decided. This historic site has a visitor center that offers first-hand accounts of this battle, a 360-degree film that portrays the events, and awesome rooftop views of the battlefield.

You can see the gravestones of the Scottish clans and Memorial Cairn, a six-meter high monument erected in 1881 to commemorate the battle.

Other landmarks here include Old Leanach Cottage and the Cumberland Stone which commemorates the spot where the Duke of Cumberland issued orders to his troops. The battlefield has memorials including the Keppoch Stone indicating the location where Alastair MacDonell, head of the Kepploch clan, fell. The English Stone commemorates those who fought alongside Cumberland.

Cawdor Castle is located just 16 kilometers northeast of Culloden and is famous for being the place where Macbeth murdered Duncan in the story by William Shakespeare. Here you’ll find a large collection of Shakespearean literature and can see fine period furniture.

Dating from 1370 a hawthorn tree was the first sign to the first Thane to build a castle here. There is a beautiful garden. You can explore the nature trails and there is a nine-hole golf course. If you prefer to stay overnight there is a cottage for rent.

Fort George is a huge artillery fort that was built soon after the Battle of Culloden. The fort also is home to the regimental museum of the Queen’s Own Highlanders. There is a visitor center and a gift shop.

About 61 kilometers east of Inverness on the road to Aberdeen is Elgin with some historic attractions. You can visit the Elgin Cathedral tower left behind among the ruins. This church was once known as the “Lantern of the North.” You can still see the west facade and the 13th-century choir as we;; as the great east rose window and the octagonal chapter house. Guided tours are available.

In Elgin, you can also find Birnie Church, the oldest church in Scotland dating from 1140.

You can also visit the impressive Spynie Palace with the massive David’s Tower that was built in 1470.

Brodie Castle and County Park the seat of the Brodie family since 1160. You can see fine French furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries, Chinese porcelain, and a collection of paintings among them artwork from French Impressionists and English and Dutch artists.

Take a tour of the grounds and visit the 1.8 meters high Pictish Rodney Stone which is carved with Celtic animal symbols and inscriptions.

Some of the loveliest Highland scenery is located 35 kilometers north of Ullapool around the beautiful Loch Assynt. Fishermen can enjoy salmon and trout fishing. There are majestic mountain panoramas.

At the eastern end of Loch Assynt are the ruins of Ardvreck Castle dating from 1590.

Nearby is Inchadamph Nature Reserve which is home to the largest network of caves in Scotland.

There is Chairn Bhain’s seal colony

Eas a Chula Aluinn Falls, which at 200 meters high is the highest waterfall in Britain.

The most northwesterly point of mainland Scotland, Cape Wrath offers amazing views over the North Atlantic toward the Orkney Isles. This is one of the wildest parts of the Highlands.

Among the man-made structures here is the lighthouse built by Robert Stevens in 1872 on the spectacular Clo Mor Cliffs. It is a popular area for bird watchers and hikers with trails leading to the beautiful Loch Nevis.

Dunrobin Castle is located a mile northeast of Golspie and is the seat of the influential Counts and Dukes of Sutherland. The castle was built in the neo-Baronial style and has attractive corner towers with conical slate roofs. The castle has 189 rooms and one of the highlights is the Drawing Room with Louis XV furniture, portraits, and 18th-century tapestries. Enjoy strolling in the Italian-style gardens overlooking the Dornoch Firth.

The Orkney Isles are popular with hikers, nature lovers, bird watchers, and anglers. Two of the most famous sites here are Maes Howe Chambered Cairn which is the best-preserved Stone Age burial chamber in Britain dating from 2500 BC and the Skara Brae Prehistoric Village which is an open-air museum with well-preserved houses.

Of the 67 Orkney Islands, only 18 are inhabited. Others are breeding grounds for seabirds, kestrels, peregrine falcons, sparrow hawks, and golden eagles.

The largest town is Kirkwall with interesting historic sites like Magnus Cathedral.

The Shetland Islands are enjoyed by hikers and mountain bikers. For those who enjoy water sports, there are over 350 lakes and the vast Atlantic Ocean. Altogether there are nearly 100 islands.

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