The last post I wrote was about the fact that the weather was less than, shall we say, “sunny” and we needed to compensate that by going to a distillery.
Today, however, was a day to step outside and see what the Highlands and as a result Inverness, had to offer.
What do we know about the Highlands?
Well, in the good old days, the wild and rugged nature of the land led to the separation of the Highlanders into small groups called clans. Each clan was ruled by a chief, and the members of a clan claimed descent from a common ancestor. Indeed, the gathering of the more than 100 clans, is a fascinating tourist attraction.
At these gatherings, athletes wear kilts which is the traditional garment of the Highland clansmen. The kilt is a short, pleated skirt worn by men and a little longer for women, which is suitable for climbing rough hills, rocks and terrains. Each clan has its own colourful pattern – called a tartan – which is a traditional woven cloth.
Today the kilt is not only rural clothing but a national costume proudly worn by Scottish people, for special occasions like weddings and ceremonies.
Inverness is the capital of the Highlands and every summer, the Highlanders roll out the Inverness Highland Games and compete in such ancient Highland sports as throwing the hammer, tossing the caber which is a long, heavy pole, playing the bagpipes and taking part in Highland dancing, which all add wonderful colour and interest to the gatherings.
As far as we were concerned, it was time to look around the local area and finally go on our river walk. It is possible to do a 11.5 km / 7 mile walk on the bank of the River Ness, the Caledonian Canal (considered to be a masterpiece of canal engineering and one of the world’s greatest waterways), and leading to the coast. It would take you on an interesting walk of the canal and river side paths, and would take a minimum of 4 hours in one direction.
Inverness is great.
One minute you’re standing right next to the Inverness Castle and a few minutes later, you’re looking at seals!
We decided to keep it short and interesting and only do the Ness Island Circular Walk in conjunction with my own version of the Inverness Historic Trail.
The first thing we saw on our walk was an Angler. An Angler is a fisherman. He was really nice and chatty and even strode out of the river to take a photograph with “The Tall Young Gentleman”. We kept bumping into him and his mates too, as for the rest of the afternoon; various strangers would honk and wave!
Salmon fishing is pretty common on the banks of Inverness and a story goes that one fisherman caught salmon which was over 64lbs. Happily; he put it back into the river. Wow!
We started our walk on the Ness Bridge which gave us beautiful views of the Inverness Castle on the opposite side of the river. We also saw many of the towns’ historical churches some stemming from the 12th century!
I do love walking.
I especially like walking by the river, sea, lake, brook or canal and as I told you previously in my post about Berlin, I do love places with water and the Ness Island Walk was perfect for it. We could walk on the watery shore. We could flick pebbles into the sea. We could watch the seagulls. We could watch the Anglers standing in the river. We could go salmon fishing (with a permit of course). We could also breathe in the Scottish air and let the sun rest on our faces.
There was a bit of a breeze but nothing that a wee drab of whisky couldn’t sort out.
O.K. So we went over the footbridge and crossed into the Ness Island itself. The Scottish word for Ness Island is Eileanan Abhainn Nis.
The Ness Island is famous for spotting seals, seagulls and other wild animals and is a brilliant place to spot pheasants and wildfowl. It is also a collection of small islands located in the middle of the river and is a natural beauty spot. Each island is connected to one another by a host of suspension foot bridges.
The first bridge to the islands was built in 1828. Previously to this, the only way to get there was by boat! The bridges give for a good view of various angles of the islands and are very environmentally friendly, as only foot passengers and cyclists can go on these footbridges. The islands are also homes to bats, otters and sometimes deer.
There is also the Bught Park, the Inverness War Memorial from the “Great War” as it’s known in Britain or WWI, and the Floral Hall. The Floral Hall is a sub tropical horticultural garden treasure with small waterfalls, fish, plants and trees and a pretty little tea room, in case you’re thirsty!
At the end of the Ness Island Walk, we went up to Inverness Castle.
Did you know that Inverness began as a 6th century Pictish settlement?
Did you know that “the first” Inverness Castle was destroyed in 1307 by Robert the Bruce?
Did you know that in the 15th century, the castle was visited by Mary, Queen of Scots?
Did you know that the castle was blown up by the Jacobites in 1746, leaving only a well and the stairway?
Did you know that the Inverness town steeple was built in 1791 but because of an earthquake in 1816, actually leans? Legend has it that beneath the weather cock is a bottle of whisky!
Did you even know that Inverness Castle is not actually open to the public, it’s not even “a castle” in the technical sense, but is actually the city’s prison, police station and centre for justice?
Even though the Castle is not open to the public, you are allowed to walk on it’s grounds in which you can see lovely views of Inverness such as the Highland Cathedral, an Iron Age fort and the Eden Court Theatre.
Information about the Ness Island Circular Walk can be found in pretty much every Inverness map and on: http://www.explore-inverness.com/what-to-do/outdoors/ness-island-walk/. It’s a pretty and scenic walk with no extra clothing necessary. Bring a camera. Depending on pace and what you want to see: Takes about 1-2 hours. Price: Totally and wonderfully, Free! Free!! Free!!!
Information about The Inverness Historic Trail can also be found in pretty much every walking map and on: http://www.explore-inverness.com/what-to-do/outdoors/inverness-historic-trail/ or http://www.explore-inverness.com/media/8185/Historic%20Trial%20and%20Map%20PDF.pdf. The centre of Inverness is tiny, compact, walkable and easy to get around. Give yourself an hour or two as there are lots of historical buildings that date back centuries, dotted around pretty frequently. Bring a camera. No need to take out your wallets and purses except to buy a cup of tea, some sandwiches, and pehaps a pint or two to quench your thirst. Price: Nothing!
This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my absolute own.
Oh, but the Highlands are bonny! Have you participated in the Highland Games? Have you ever worn a kilt?
Have your say!
If you like this article, share it!