When planning a trip to Scotland, most immediately tick off Edinburgh Castle, the Isle of Skye and Loch Ness from the list of destinations. After a visit to Loch Ness many will quickly continue to the Isle of Skye or return to Edinburgh. If you have a longer stay in Scotland, take the time to enjoy the things to do around Inverness.
Inverness is in the Highlands of Scotland. Located at the northern end of the Great Glen, Inverness sits at the mouth of the River Ness where it flows into the Moray Firth. There are many things to see near Inverness, here are a few of our favourites.
- Things to do around Inverness
- Visit the Black Isle in Scotland
- Cromarty Hotels
- The Village of Rosemarkie
- Brewery and Distillery Tours
- Summary of things to do around Inverness
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Things to do around Inverness
To me the best time to visit Scotland is Spring, the morning air is crisp and cool, while the days are warm and sunny, a beautiful time of year with nature blooming all around.
Visit the Black Isle in Scotland
The Black Isle is an area of great beauty, a peninsula framed by the Cromarty, Moray and Beauly Firths. There are so many things to do in the Black Isle, it is a haven for wildlife with picturesque villages and farmlands.
The Village of Cromarty
We visited Cromarty on our last trip to Scotland and were so impressed that we couldn’t wait to visit again.
Located on the tip of the Black Isle, Cromarty is protected by the Sutors, headlands which stand like sentinels at the entrance to the Cromarty Firth.
Like any village, Cromarty has had times of great prosperity and hardship. Past industries include herring fishing, the manufacture of hemp, rope making and a thriving seaport.
I adore Cromarty, for such a small village it has a lot going on. In my last article, the Black Isle of Scotland, I spoke about Cromarty’s Pottery and Art Galleries, museums, award-winning Cromarty Bakery and the imported and local delicacies of the Cheese House.
This time I discovered more of Cromarty’s treasures.
Voted Best Visitor Attraction in the Highlands and Islands in 2016, ecoVentures will take you on thrilling tour of the inner Moray Firth.
Explore the Firth’s stunning scenery and view wildlife in its natural habitat. Sightings of seals, bottlenose dolphins, porpoises and minke whales are a frequent occurrence and seabird colonies can be spotted along the coastline.
An exhilarating and educational tour that explains the need for conserving the Moray Firths ecosystem and the measures being taken to ensure long term sustainability of the marine environment.
Gardiner and Gardiner Antiques
Walking down the High Street, I was instantly attracted to the shop window of Gardiner and Gardiner Antiques, an Aladdin’s cave that draws the eye and entices you inside to browse. Selling a rich array of country house and shabby chic trinkets, curios and jewellery, it’s the place to find that hidden treasure, a homemaker’s delight.
Cromarty Arts Trust
I wish I could spend more time on the Black Isle, the Cromarty Arts Trust present a packed program of events throughout the year including art exhibitions, art workshops, crafts, musical concerts and workshops. Workshops in landscape art, wood sculpture and silver raising are just some of the fantastic events on offer.
Black Isle Community Markets
Held three Saturdays a month with rotating venues of Culbokie, Cromarty and North Kessock, the Black Isle Markets are a fun place to shop for local crafts, produce, baked goods and food.
Cromarty has a rich history and is one of the best preserved Georgian villages in Scotland. Examples of Georgian architecture can be found all over the village, many have links to Cromarty’s famous son, the noted geologist, naturalist and folklorist Hugh Miller.
My favourite is Hugh Miller’s Cottage, a cosy, homey whitewashed cottage with thatched roof, the birthplace of Hugh Miller. A must see for anyone curious about home life in the early 19th Century.
The Royal Hotel
If you are looking for Black Isle hotels look no further than The Royal Hotel. With views overlooking Cromarty Firth, the Royal Hotel is a statement to Scottish hospitality and comfort. The rooms are comfortable with a cosy welcoming style. The lounge is charming, decorated in a mix of old world and sea side flair. You can dine on the sun terrace or snuggle up by the fire and enjoy a fabulous meal in the restaurant.
For Scottish hospitality and comfort, we recommend The Royal Hotel.
The Village of Rosemarkie
Rosemarkie is on the Moray Firth side of the Black Isle, close to the villages of Fortrose and Avoch. Fortrose is home to many grand Victorian townhouses and Avoch has a pretty harbour with whitewashed cottages, both well worth a visit.
Rosemarkie Camping and Caravanning Club site
The Rosemarkie Camping and Caravanning Club site is located near Chanonry Point and has spectacular views overlooking Rosemarkie Bay and Fort George, the perfect place to view the wildlife of the Moray Firth.
Take a walk along Dolphin Mile to Chanonry Point and catch a glimpse of the bottlenose dolphins that make this area their playground. If you’re still feeling energetic take a walk to Caird’s Cave or the Fairy Glen from the Rosemarkie Beach Café.
Rosemarkie Beach Café to Caird’s Cave
We woke early to catch the low tide on the Moray Firth, the best time to do the walk from Rosemarkie Beach Café to Caird’s Cave.
Walking along the esplanade at Rosemarkie Beach Café we came to the steps leading to the High, the upper path leading to Caird’s cave. Once we climbed the steps the trail opened into a fairy tale woodland, where bluebells formed a carpet of lilac and branches stretched over the path to create a canopy of green.
As we walked the landscape changed from dense woodland, to an open-air path scattered with wildflowers. We caught glimpses of the beach and craggy cliffs, hills played host to seagulls who squawked loudly above. Crossing a small stream, we walked the short distance to the shallow granite cavern of Caird’s Cave.
We decided to take the beach walk back to Rosemarkie Beach Café. This walk can only be done at low tide at high tide turn around and take the High trail back.
I loved the beach walk, the morning was warm and sunny, a beautiful day. From where we stood we could see the headland and the wide mouth of the Moray Firth. A distant oil rig and cruise ship stood out against the horizon.
I welcomed the salty ocean tang, a smell I miss since leaving Australia. Drifts of seaweed littered the beach and as I looked out across the water I imagined the kelp forests lying just below the surface, the perfect habitat for the Moray Firth’s abundant sea life.
Walking back to the café we passed rockpools and craggy rock formations with strange names such as, Gillander’s Gable, The Whale and its baby, The Pyramid and my favourite, The Dragon’s Teeth.
Fairy Glen Rosemarkie
Another popular walk from the Rosemarkie Beach Café, is the Fairy Glen walk. This RSPB nature reserve walk is an oasis of peace that takes you past streams and wooded glens to the Fairy Glen waterfalls. Make sure to keep watch at the waterfalls, you may catch a glimpse of a passing fairy.
Groam House Museum
The Inverness region was once the stronghold of the Picts. The Groam House Museum displays a group of intricately carved Pictish stones that were found at the site of the present-day church. Dating from around 700 AD the stones are an example of the skill and craftmanship of the Pictish people.
Brewery and Distillery Tours
Black Isle Brewery
The Black Isle Brewery is near the village of Allangrange on the Black Isle. Take the A9 north of Inverness over the Kessock Bridge, turn at the Allangrange sign and follow the signs to the Black Isle Brewery.
The Black Isle Brewery is the only organic Brewery in Scotland. The barley used in making the beer is grown on the breweries own farm or sourced from neighbouring farms. Pure water is drawn from a source 91 metre below in sandstone bedrock.
The brewery is committed to the environment with spent grains being recycled as feed for the farms sheep who enjoy grazing in grass and clover pastures.
We took the breweries free tour and tasting and were impressed with the quality and range of beer, including their award-winning gluten free beer “Gold Finch”.
Black Isle Brewery shop not only sells a range of organic beer but t-shirts, beer glasses, organic soaps and hand knitted black wool jumpers, made from the undyed wool the Brewery’s own sheep.
If you can’t make it out to the brewery, you can try all the Black Isle beers at the Black Isle Bar on Church Street Inverness.
Glen Ord Distillery
The Glen Ord Distillery is on the edge of the Black Isle in the village of Muir of Ord. The distillery has a range of different tours to choose from. We took the Glen Ord tour which gave us a tour of the distillery and complimentary tasting.
We enjoyed the tour, it was fun and informative and we discovered the complicated process and defining factors that give single malt whiskey its complex flavours. Well worth the visit.
Summary of things to do around Inverness
I have only touched on the things to do around Inverness, there is so much more to see and do. The history, stunning beauty of the landscapes, wildlife and Scottish hospitality are all reasons why this area of the Scottish Highlands should be on everyone’s itinerary when planning a trip to Scotland.
What is your favourite thing to do around Inverness?