Guest Author - Asha Sahni
Inverness - population roughly 65,000 – gained city status in 2000. Other Scottish cities include Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.
Cawdor Castle, a residence open to the public, is about ten miles outside Inverness; the Castle has magnificent gardens. Please note that you will not find that a Scottish king catapaulted to fame by Shakespeare was ever here – in the Bard’s play Macbeth murders Duncan at Inverness Castle.
Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats before they achieved a coalition government, was born in Inverness.
Clava Cairns. A prehistoric burial ground. Three large cairns at this site are believed to have been built some 4,000 years ago. Excavations suggest that before the cairns were built the land on which they stand, close to the River Nairn, was used for farming.
Culloden Battlefield. A few miles from Inverness, a mile from Clava Cairns, lies the site of the last battle to take place in Britain. The Scots suffered a massive defeat here at the hands of the English.
Fort George, named after the English King of the time, was built following the defeat of the Highlanders at Culloden; it is still used by the British Army. This stunning piece of architecture is protected by the Moray Firth; you can see Fort George from the far side of the water at Chanonry Point on the Black Isle – an area renowned for dolphin spotting.
Inverness Airport, a few miles from the city centre, offers flights to UK destinations including Birmingham, Bristol, London and Orkney; destinations further afield include Amsterdam, Austria, Italy and Jersey. If you are travelling in the depths of winter bear in mind that flights can be subject to cancellation/changes due to bad weather conditions.
Inverness Castle is now used as a courthouse – to use the Scottish term, a Sherriff Court. Outside the Castle stands a statue of Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to Skye after defeat at the Battle of Culloden.
Karen Gillan - the actress who plays Dr Who companion Amy Pond - was born and brought up in Inverness, attending Charleston Academy. The first Doctor she worked with was David Tennant who had been asked to lose his Scottish accent for the part; Gillan triumphed in being able to keep her Scottish lilt as part of her role.
The River Ness traverses the heart of the city and offers some charming river walks; you can get a wonderful view of the river and the city’s Cathedral from Inverness Castle. You are, of course, within striking distance of the Loch Ness Monster – should you fancy a spot of Nessie hunting tours/cruises of Loch Ness are available starting in and near Inverness.
If you are thinking of visiting Inverness I would recommend The Lonely Planet and Rough Guides to the Scottish Highlands and Islands. I have found both invaluable resources for finding my way about the area.