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The Highland hills rich in plants and wildlife are a backdrop to the Moray Firth and the sand-and-shingle beaches of the coast. Inverness, the 'capital' of the Highlands, stands at the entrance of the man-made Caledonian Canal, which connects Scotland's east and west coasts. On its way, the canal passes through Loch Ness, home of the famous but officially unverified monster.


Cottages clustered around small harbour have their gable ends facing the sea so fishing boats can be drawn up between them during rough weather. Easy walk along farm lanes south of village on north side of Munlochy Bay provides views of bay and surrounding mountains. Grave of Sir Alexander MacKenzie. Explorer of the North West Territories of Canada, he gave his name to the MacKenzie River. Born in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, he came to Avoch when he retired and was buried in the old churchyard in 1820.

The village of Beauly was the Seat of the chief of the Clan Fraser - "Maschimid" in the Gaelic. The origins of the village lie steeped in antiquity with several Pictish vitrified forts around the perimeter of the grounds of the ruined Valliscaullian Priory founded by Sir John Bisset Lord of Lovat in the year 1230. Mary Queen of Scots on looking our of her window gave Beauly its present name, exclaiming "Quel beau lieu". It is a beautiful place indeed, having won four national awards in the "Britain in Bloom" The main street of the village is still dominated by the remains of the 13th-century Beauly Priory, which contains a 16th-century monument to Sir Kenneth Mackenzie. Nearby mud flats are home to waders and wildfowl. Walk through Reelig Glen, 3 miles east of Beauly.

Beauly and Religion, a wee bit of history
Beauly Angling Club, information on local fishing
Beauly Shinty Club, a Sport worth seeing !!

Cawdor Castle has turreted 14th century tower with 17th-century additions and still serves as home to Earls of Cawdor. Drawing room has 17th century fireplace and portrait of Emma Hamilton, Nelson's mistress. Tapestry Bedroom has Venetian bed and 17th century tapestries portraying Biblical scenes. Three differently styled gardens, nature trails. Castle is scene of King Duncan's murder in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Licensed self-service restaurant.

Sea lock built here for Caledonian Canal because North Sea runs out long way at low tide; one of great engineering achievements of the canal-building age. Canal opened in 1822.

Clava Cairns
Cairns dating from late Stone Age surrounded by standing stone circles and hidden by trees. Originally contained domed burial chambers with passage entrances.

Culloden Muir/Moor
Site of last battle fought on Scottish soil. Bonnie Prince Charlie defeated by Duke of Cumberland in 1746. Battlefield restored to 1746 appearance. Visitor centre has audiovisual display of battle. Farmhouse has museum containing historical maps and relics.

Dingwall is a busy and businesslike town that serves as the commercial centre of the area. There are shops and other tourist facilities and the town has a railway station. The Dingwall Museum, housed in a monument building, overlooks the town. Dingwall was the birthplace of Macbeth, and lies at the head of the Cromarty Firth.

Dochfour Gardens
Terraced gardens stand in 15 acres by Loch Dochfour. Daffodils, trees and rhododendrons; water garden and yew topiary. Kitchen garden with soft fruit in season.

Small stone village dominated by Loch Ness Monster trade. Exhibition centre tells of monster sightings and reveals ingenuity of searchers. Visitor centre features film on monster history and myth. Sonar scanning cruises.

Four-house hamlet stands by bridge over River Feshie rapids. These rapids turn quickly to birch surrounded pools as water makes its way through Glen Feshie.

Fort George
One of finest artillery fortifications in Europe, completed 1769. Regimental museum of Queen's Own Highlanders has military items covering period from 1778 to present day.

Cathedral, probably destroyed by Cromwell, retains some vaulting. The cathedral was the seat of the Bishops of Ross from about 1240, when it was moved here from Rosemarkie, until the Reformation. The cathedral was ruined from at least the 1650s when stone was taken from it to build Oliver Cromwell's Fort in Inverness. Hill of Fortrose has views over town and Chanonry Point.
Fortrose Academy - History of Scotland Project
Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club.
Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Breaks.

Foyers Falls on eastern shore of Loch Ness. Best places to view falls are from path through trees.

Highland 'capital' on River Ness. Castle Wynd Museum has bagpipes, various Jacobite relics. Abertarff House in Church Street built in 1693. St Andrew's Cathedral built l866.

Kilravock Castle
Grounds of 15th-century castle contain tree garden with some varieties unique to Britain. Nature trails, guided castle tours.

Loch Moy
Remains of 14th-century Castle of Moy and obelisk honouring 19th-century Mackintosh chief stand on one of loch's islands.

Loch Ness
Possibly Scotland's most famous stretch of water, renowned for perennial tourist attraction, the Loch Ness Monster. Loch is 24 miles long, about a mile across, and up to 754ft deep. Road from Urquhart Castle to Invermoriston runs alongside wooded slopes of loch; viewpoints.

Town granted royal charter in 12th century. Laing Hall in King Street houses the Fishertown Museum, which has exhibits on domestic life of town, model boats and collection of photographs and articles on fishing industry. Ornamental gardens just off High Street, and walks along River Nairn. Sandy beaches popular in summer, provide nickname, the 'Brighton of the North'.
Nairn Golf Breaks.

Nairn Viaduct
Viaduct, 600yds long and 130ft above ground at maximum height, built in 1898 for Highland Railway's route between Aviemore and Inverness through Nairn Valley. Each of the 28 arches has span of 50ft. Arch over river has span of 100ft.

North Kessock
Iron Age fort tops Ord Hill, over-shadowing village of small houses along mud-and-shingle shore. Kessock Bridge replaced ferry route across Beauly Firth. Sea trout angling, bird life along fore-shore of firth. Walks through forest along slopes of Ord Hill allow views of firth.

Rogie Falls
Named after Norse for 'splashing, foaming river'. Leaping salmon can sometimes be seen from suspension bridge.

Sandstone cliffs dotted with caves face the sea and overlook red-sandstone cottages. Groam House is small museum containing Pictish stone. Footpath starting on road to Cromarty, just north of village, leads along Fairy Glen to two waterfalls. Ledges allow visitors behind falls.

Village, once Victorian health resort with sulphur springs, now famous for doll museum housed in remains of baths complex. Dolls, teddy bears, games and toys spanning 150 years on display, as well as other features of Victorian nursery such as baby clothes, lace and cradles.

There is also the Eagle Stone and early 'Class 1' type stone, with the symbols cut into a rough boulder (7th-8th.c.) It stands on a small, possibly man-made, mound. A horse-shoe and a bird are cut on one side.

The curative properties of the sulphurated waters here were first noted in 1772, when Dr Donald Munro gave a paper on the 'Castle Leod Water' to the Royal Society. Their popularity took off with the arrival of the railway in 1885. Many buildings associated with the heyday of the spa can still be seen, including the Spa Pavilion, pump room and gardens, which are in the process of renovation. The waters can be tasted in the village square.

Above Strathpeffer is Knockfarrel Hillfort. This had substantial ramparts made of stones with a timber frame, enclosing a large area and making good use of the natural defences of the hill-top.. At some time, the timber of the walls was set on fire, creating enough heat to melt the rock. This vitrification can be seen all around the perimeter of the fort.
Strathpeffer Golf Club

Urquhart Castle
Jutting out on strategic point into Loch Ness, part of this large often-rebuilt castle ruin dates from Norman times. Blown up in 1692 to prevent Jacobite occupation.

If you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:

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