Inverness has seen a huge upturn in visitation these last two years due to the Outlander Effect and renewed interest in the Battle of Culloden and the Jacobite trail. When I was in Inverness in the summer of 2016, the streets were swarming with many tourists from all over the world. I had wanted to visit the area because I had an interest in seeing where the Battle of Culloden had taken place, and of course the famous Loch Ness area, but also the trip to Inverness through the Highland via train was breathtaking. If you are lucky enough to be able to drive the winding road to visit this amazing seaside town, do. There are plenty of places to stop off for a picnic and gazing at large imposing, majestic Monros.
Inverness (Inbhir Nis) is situated on the mouth of the river Ness at the Moray Firth, it was home to the Pictish people. The city is near where the King MacBeth murdered King Duncan in the 11-Century. Many clans battled over lands in the area including the MacDonalds, Monro and Macintosh. And even Oliver Cromwell paid a visit with troops and occupied it. It is close to the famous Culloden Moor where the last battle of the Jacobites was in 1745.
Things to Do
Castles there are, Inverness Castle is imposing, but is a recent fixture build in 1836 by William Burn that was built on the site of a previous defensive structure. This castle is not open to the public, but you can view from the grounds. Castle Urquhart is at Loch Ness and is a great clamoring ruin that can be viewed. It’s been featured in films and series. I love ruined castles just as much as the “tour” castles, I like to climb the grounds and imagine what they must have been like ages ago and what the people were doing there.
Another must see and experienced is Culloden Moor is where the famed battle took place in 1745 and the visitor center is one of the best historic sites I have been to. The chilling interactive display that takes you through the history of the battle and allows you to wander through each side of the combatants as you walk the story wall is very moving. When you get to the battlefield you will feel the presence of those lost with stone markers and spirits. Many bring flowers and place them by identified clan sites, or there is the stone for the rest of the clans that joined without official envoy. I visited on a true Scots day filled with dreich and was soaked through with wet and memory. Whatever your flavor of emotion, it is one of the sites where you will be humbled.
There are many great seaside and riverside restaurants. I tried my first Cullen Skink soup in Inverness. What is that? Well, it’s not lizard soup which well, with skink that came to mind. It’s a delicious fish soup common in the coastal towns. I tried a few restaurants on the river during my stay, there were so many. Good thing I was hiking to the Clava Cairns the next day. Don’t forget that one of the most popular edibles in Scotland is Mac and Cheese, and some places deep fry it.
Oh, yeah. The main reason for going back this time is to actually get a tour around the lake. On my last visit the time got swallowed up by Culloden and Clava Cairns explorations and I did not make the full hike to the lake up the river Ness. This visit I hope to get around the lake a bit and do some hiking, and maybe crawl over that castle. Of course, the famous attraction at the Loch, Nessie, is what most tourists seek. Science girl here. While it’s possible that there are some huge fish in a lake like this, I doubt a monster really exists. But everyone can have their fun with it, it’s great for the kids. Fun theories I have read over the years include prehistoric plesiosaurs. If you like having fun with legends like this, there are plenty of tourist trinkets to be found in the shops and taking a cruise on the loch is a must.
And on To Skye and Lewis
If you’re in the neighborhood, you should check out the isla around the area. One of my reasons for heading back to Inverness is to make it to Skye and Lewis. Last season i was only able to view the Hebrides from shore and boat, I did not step on any islands. This year I plan on visiting these two and exploring their shores and inland wonders. I recommend Travel’s With a Kilt Blog article on Skye for some pointers on hiking and other amazing sites on this island. Lewis is home to the Standing Stones of Callanish, and amazing collection of standing stones sure to inspire your dreams. Getting to Lewis is a bit of a trek, and you may find tours from Inverness that cover Skye and Lewis that will take up a whole day.
Weekend Things to do on the Isle of Skye
10 Scottish Castles That Inspired Outlander
Best Places to Get Cullen Skink
Other Useful Links