Guest Author - Asha Sahni
Inverness, with a population of around 65,000, is the northernmost city in Scotland. As you travel beyond Inverness to the northern reaches of Scotland you encounter many small communities, a lot of them scattered around the east, north and west coasts of the top of the United Kingdom . Some say Inverness is the capital of the Highlands - it has a Castle which once housed kings which is now used as a Sherriffs court. It has a hospital - Raigmore - which takes patients who do not have access to local hospital care from as far away as the Outer Hebridian islands. The Highland Council manages a lot of key administrative functions such as housing and transport from offices in Inverness.
So why visit Inverness, which achieved city status in the year 2000? Inverness has a growing population, with businesses recognising the advantages of relocating to the area. Apparently call centres, major employers in Inverness, favour soft Scottish voices – they are calming and reassuring for customers! Inverness is a frequent setting off point for visitors touring the Highlands. The surrounding areas are as much of an attraction as Inverness itself. If you have the chance to reach Inverness via Perth and Aviemore the scenery is spectacular – you can travel through mountains which have traces of snow at their peaks for much of the year. Alternatively you can fly to Inverness Airport, a few miles from the city.
The name Inverness means mouth of the River Ness – which is where the city is located. Inverness has a rich historical context - St Columba converted king Brude to Christendom there in the sixth century. Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots had dealings with the city. A large part of the action from Shakespeare’s Macbeth takes part in lands close to Inverness – though historians argue that Shakespeare took many liberties with truth in the construction of his play.
Suggestions for visits during your time in Inverness include:
Inverness Castle - climb up to the red stone Castle (which unfortunately tourists cannot access) and find outside the statue of Flora MacDonald – a Scottish heroine who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie sail over the sea to Skye. From here you can see the River Ness, Inverness Cathedral and Eden Court Theatre – a great place (when Scottish weather permits) to grab a bench, eat a packed lunch and enjoy the view.
Inverness Museum – located close to the river it houses an excellent history of the area and several interactive exhibits.
Loch Ness – try a summer boat trip down Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle, and see if you can spot the Loch Ness monster!
The Black Isle - travel from Inverness over the Kessock Bridge (opened in 1982) to the Black Isle – not strictly an island, but an area with a wealth of folklore and watery gifts including the chance to see dolphins at Chanonry Point near Fortrose.
The River Ness – there are some enjoyable river walks, with several bridges over the river allowing you to take a short stroll down both sides of the river if you want to get a feel for the centre of the city.
If you get the chance, Inverness is well worth a visit – ideally over the warmer months of the year, when tourist sites are open, roads are passable and flights are likely to take off and land on time!