Inverness

Inverness, Capital of the Highlands, became Scotland’s fifth city in celebration of the start of the Third Millennium. It lies at the north end of the Great Glen, where the River Ness flows into the Moray Firth,and has been a natural focus for lines of communication to and through the Highlands for most of the last two thousand years.

glenmohr hotel inverness scotlandWe stayed at the Glen Mohr hotel and they allocated us a very sub-standard room. After the first night we decided we would leave and find other accommodation (see video). We complained and were given another room. The benefit of this hotel is the fact that it has its own parking area at the area which is secured with a code for access. Better than parking on the street which becomes a bit of a nightmare during the day as there are many restrictions because the location is not far from the centre of the business district.

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We stayed at the hotel in Inverness from 24 April 2010 (Saturday) – we checked in in the late afternoon – had difficulty finding the hotel but saved by the sat nav. The allocation of a sub-standard room did not create a good first impression. I broke my glasses when I took off my back pack. The connection across the bridge of the nose parted company. Sandra told me off because I don’t listen to her and keep my glasses in the vee of my pullover neck. Well they broke! Luckily I had my spare pair in the suitcase. On the Monday, I took my glasses into the city centre for repair and had it done at Specsavers (they did it for nothing). We are having problems with our international roaming mobiles. Sandra cannot call me on my Vodafone number. I cannot call her Optus number. Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to take an extra mobile phone (the one from Celeste) and arranged for Sandra to buy a local sim card using the O2 network. Whilst in Inverness we visited:

  • the City of Inverness
  • travelled back in the direction of Fort William to see the Loch Ness Visitor Centre and Castle Urquhart, Loch Ness, Scotland (pronounced “urk’at”)
  • Culloden
  • went looking for Cawdor Castle
  • Visited Fort George

Got a bad cold and decided to stay on in Inverness from Tuesday 27 April 2010. I wanted to go back to Brian and Linda Martin‟s place. My reason – I wanted somewhere to recover where I was among people I knew. To have done so would have brought our travel to the north of Scotland to a halt, even though I considered that after recovering, we could have attempted travel up north again but by a different route. Sandra persuaded me to stay in Inverness for one more day and night. I went down to breakfast and started to feel a bit better. I wanted to walk for a bit, see if I was up to it. I was and enjoyed the long walk which culminated in going to a chemist and getting some more stuff to keep the dreaded lurgie at bay.

We visited the coastal town of Nairn (website – http://www.nairnscotland.co.uk/) after lunch – bought ice cream. I drove – for the first time since we left the Martin‟s. Sandra must be very tired but she soldiers on. We got fuel and I added some air to the tyres on the Renault. As I write this, I am feeling much better. The nasal spray and the tablets are working.

What is really interesting is the fact that I am eating less. I have really lost any appetite for larger meals. I still love wine though. Sandra says that my jowls are less noticeable and that I am looking better. Any improvement is a bonus at this age of my life.

We had dinner in the lounge bar at the Beaufort Hotel in Inverness (website – http://www.beauforthotelinverness.com/). By the time we got there, we had entered and left at least 3 eating places which were deemed unsuitable owing to noise and not very clean. After one experience with a popular Chinese restaurant chain in Perth (WA), both Sandra and I have an aversion to Chinese restaurants anywhere that from the immediate impression is not clean. What is also interesting the volume of music that is played in places where you might like to eat (pubs). You just cannot have a conversation and end up shouting at each other to be heard.

We stayed in Inverness overnight. 29 April 2010, Thursday Left Inverness and travelled in the direction of Wick, travelling mainly along the eastern part of Scotland.

The origins of Inverness lie on its western edge at the now wooded crag of Craig Phadrig. A fortress atop this crag was a capital of the Pictish kings from as early as the 400s. In about 580 Craig Phadrig was the stronghold of the Pictish King Brude when St Columba embarked on his quest to convert the Picts to Christianity. It is said that King Brude denied St Columba entry when he arrived at Craig Phadrig: but the gates opened themselves when Columba knocked. Brude, suitably impressed, quickly converted with his people.

It is thought that the fortress on Craig Phadrig was destroyed by fire in the 700s. A later castle in Inverness was destroyed by Malcolm III in about 1070, who then built another on a hill overlooking the River Ness at the point where it was crossed by a ferry.

The town grew rapidly and by 1250 a bridge had been built across the river and a priory founded. It was also an important centre for boat building and fishing. Progress came to a halt when Inverness was largely destroyed in an attack by Alexander, Lord of the Isles in 1429 to avenge his arrest in the town by James I the previous year (see our Historical Timeline).

By the 1600s Inverness was thriving once more. In 1652 Oliver Cromwell built a citadel to strengthen his hold on northern Scotland on the riverside site of the medieval castle. With the restoration of the monarchy the citadel was abandoned, but many English troops based there settled in Inverness.

In 1727 the remains of the citadel and earlier castle were developed into the first Fort George, a large fortress capable of housing 400 troops. Fort George surrendered to the Jacobites when they took Inverness in February 1746 before their eventual demise at the Battle of Culloden in April that year. After the garrison had surrendered the Jacobites laid mines under the fortress. This operation was carried out under the direction of a French officer called L’Epine, who was amongst those killed when the mines exploded prematurely, completely destroying Fort George.

After Culloden the Government decided to build a new Fort George in Inverness. At a late stage the Burgh Council increased its demands for compensation for the land and the new Fort George was instead built at Ardersier, some miles to the east of Inverness and close to the rather more recent development of Inverness Airport. Close to the airport is the Highland Aviation Museum, which is well worth a visit.

The red stone Inverness Castle you see today was built in the 1830s to house courts and administrative buildings. Its arrival was part of a boom in the 1800s that saw Inverness truly establish itself as the capital of the Highlands. The Caledonian Canal may never have been a huge commercial success, but it did add to the importance of the town and to its already thriving harbour. By the 1870s railways were in place linking Inverness to Perth, Aberdeen, Kyle of Lochalsh, Wick and Thurso.  All of these still operate as Inverness enters the third millennium.

Inverness is also the focal point for the road network in northern Scotland. Main roads from Aberdeen, Perth and Fort William all meet here, while the Kessock Bridge, opened in 1982 across the Beauly Firth, forms the gateway to the far north and the north west. More recently Inverness has become the northern end of the 73 mile Great Glen Way long distance footpath linking it to Fort William.

Today’s Inverness is a diverse and bustling city with a compact and attractive centre. The River Ness still provides a key focus, and attractions like the castle, Inverness Cathedral and the Eden Court Theatre can all be found on its banks; together with some of the city’s many restaurants, hotels and other accommodation providers.