Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Inverness- Part 2

On Friday, the 21st was my birthday, I turned 27 years old. Honestly, as I grow older with some wisdom and my insanity increases, the nostalgia and excitement of my birthday’s wanes in comparison to the excitement, when I was a child it. I am not sure the reasons for my apathetic feelings this year,  it felt like any other day. It was lovely receiving so many wishes for a happy birthday on Facebook.

It was my second birthday I’ve been with the boyfriend, and instead of buying me presents he takes me away for trips, last year it was Bristol and Bath. I prefer having the trips away to create memories and experiences than have gifts or material items, apart from the cake, but then cakes always amazing.

The boyfriend had suggested planning the places to visit. Unfortunately, I never accounted for the reduced bus services in Inverness. Despite being a very popular place for tourists the lack public transport is appalling the buses run only every half an hour and drop you approximately one/two miles from any tourist attraction. In comparison to where I live I'm so spoilt for bus services where I live; hence I highly recommend driving. Over with my rantings. I would like to thank Carol aka The HouseCat at Domesticated for her wonderful advice in regards to places to visit.

After having breakfast, I opted to visit Urquhart Castle and Chanonry Point, we left and got a taxi from the B&B to Inverness city centre, which took about fifteen minutes. On the journey to the town centre was breathtaking with copious amounts of fells with steep inclines and covered in verdant vegetation. It was staggeringly beautiful but rugged simultaneously. The sky was overcast with grey clouds over-looming, yet the sun managed to find gaps through the cloud to stream its sunbeams through. On the journey, I saw a beautiful lake, I thought it was  Loch Ness, I think it may have been the Moray Firth estuary.(I'm rubbish at Geography).  I fell in love with the landscape immediately;  it resembled my ancestral home of County Kerry in Ireland. After visiting, I can understand the reason people fall in love with theHighland's beauty, and it became the muse of poets and artists. 

Victorian Market 

We looked through the Victorian Market that had a variety of traditional and independent shops. The Victorian market originally was an open air market in the 1870’s and after it burned down was rebuilt in the 1890’s as an indoor market. There wasn’t much to see, it was one the places I wanted to visit out of curiosity. I purchased a silly fridge magnet when I travel; I like buy a fridge magnet as a reminder.

Inverness Library 

We headed off to the bus station and waited for the bus to take us to Urquhart Castle, which operates every 2 hours. While waiting, I popped into the local library opposite the bus station. I explored the library and found the back corridor filled with displays about the history of Inverness and Highlands, Highland Traditions, information about local places of interest including Fort Augustus, Urquhart and Chanonry point. My favourite part of the displays regarded the Lock Ness Monster, which provided substantial information about the legend of Nessie, alleged sightings and attempts to find the monster. 

Journey to Loch Ness

Once we were on the bus to Urquhart, the boyfriend discussed his unproven hypothesis of the Lock Ness Monster. He believes dolphins who reside in the Firth Moray swim up to the lock and play trick with spectators. The Firth Moray estuary connects to the River Ness and feeds into  Lock Ness. A pod of dolphins swim up the river to the loch when the Dolphins swim in a line they resemble Nessie’s serpentine shape. Spectators of the event are slightly befuddled and assume that it’s the Lock Ness Monster.

A pod of dolphins that resemble a traditional or recognizable Nessie shape, it has potential I guess, Lol. He is so much better at describing it, so he kept me hysterics all weekend with his hypothesis.

On the bus journey, I got my first view of the famous lake from the bus windows,  I  saw the journey of the River Ness merging into the lock. The scenery was incredible, it conjured up poetic thoughts and my wild imagination of fairies and other fantastical creatures racing through my head.   

There was a thick, miasmas fog that made it feel as though Nessie had brought the veil of fog with her to disguise her from prying eyes of sightseers while she surfaced the loch. The fog created an ominous presence that added to the ethereal atmosphere. I ecstatically kept peering out of the window in the hope to see Nessie, but I didn't see anything.


It took about 35 minutes to reach the castle, but it was more of Scottish romantic ruin set in 360 degrees of stunning views of the rugged, mountainous scenery. The day started out quite grey and cloudy; the typical unpredictable British weather turned into a gorgeous sunny day. The Castle was abandoned in 1692 when it served as an English garrison; the last of the soldiers blew the castle up using gun powder preventing the Jacobite from seizing the Castle.

The Castle looks relaxing and picturesque, yet the castle has had a violent and turbulent history as the site is a prominent strategical point for military purposes. Intern, this has been the central point of local infrastructure with a small tuon supplying the castle with essentials for it running.

Legends states this was the location of Emchath, a Pictish leader while on his death bed, invited St Columbus to baptize him as a Christian in 580 AD. However, evidence dates the Pictish habitation back to the late 700's and early 800's. During the medieval period, the castle was taken by Edward I in 1296, and after the death of Robert the Bruce the castle became the only resistance against the English in Highlands. Later, the MacDonald's Clan, Lord of the Isles regularly raided the castle as they tried to increase their power, resulting in the Castle exchanging ownership from the Crown to the Clan. The last attack was in 1545, devastating to the owners of the castle and stool a vast quantity of valuable property. The castle property of the Scottish Crown until the barony was bestowed a to the Grant Family by James IV in 1509

The boyfriend and I enjoyed visiting the castle and learning about its history. We had considered booking a ferry tour, which included exploring the Loch by boat and only offered an hour to visit. We didn't do this as the tour I wanted was fully booked. I am glad we ventured via the bus, as we found it took about two hours to explore the site thoroughly. 

Upon entering, we explored the small museum that displayed artifacts found on extrication digs and information of the castle's hierarchy and info about the daily running of it. I was intrigued and happy to play with the light button on the model of the castle's original layout. There was a short film outlining the castle's turbulent history.  The boyfriend is knowledgeable about medieval history and warfare, so it felt like I had a personal tour guide.

We had a discussion with a museum assistant in regards to the current location of the visitors centre, which became an interesting discussion about the history of Urquhart, and it may locate on the old toun.  The assistant discussed that the castle was never fully excavated and that any evidence or artifacts would have been either destroyed or removed, during the year it was abandoned.  To commence a full Archeological survey would be difficult.

The Grant Tower offered an unusual opportunity to admire the spectacular views and to capture some stunning photographs of the complex and surroundings  The tower extends down to the vaults up to the roof. The Tower was the Grant family's living space for when the castle was abandoned and left to decay; the Grant Tower was the most complete part of the castle. During a severe storm in 1715, the tower was damaged, and the tower still retains the narrow staircase.

Urquhart has been transformed into a poetic ruin that intrigues visitors, including myself. The castle has been left to decay and exposed to the elements, especially the tempestuous Scottish weather. Many of the castle's walls have been quarried for building, and nature has reclaimed much of the ruins adding to its fanciful beauty.   During the 19th century, the castle experienced a resurgent in interest with a popularity of history, romantic architecture and revival of Highland culture. The Castle in 1913 came into stewardship of the Scottish state and frequent by millions of visitors every year.   

I loved the composition of the Ravens, who reminded of the witches of Macbeth, the way the Ravens huddled together. My mind was running wild with my thoughts believing the Ravens were a coven of witches having their annual meeting disguised as Ravens to hid their meeting from the public. Unfortunately, the photo didn't quite capture that feeling.

Overall highly, I loved visiting the Castle, despite the numerous of tourists visiting and blocking the pathways taking selfies. I felt intrigued by the castle's romantic and haunting atmosphere and surrounded by Loch Ness water attempting to spot the international celebrity herself, but to no avail there was no sign of Nessie. I had fun exploring, and photographing every aspect of the castle and fairy-tale landscape. I even enjoyed the of silly fables my imagination was conjuring up.

Inverness Cathedral 

On the way back we visited Inverness Cathedral designed by Alexander Ross, The Bishop Canterbury was invited to lay the first foundation stone in 1866 and the building finished in 1869 opening to the congregation. The original plans included a 30-metre tower on the west side of Church, but the idea was revised after the lack of funds. The cathedral was an attractive design of Victorian gothic revival features (I have a lack of knowledge about architecture) of high decorative arched windows with stained glass, decorative corbels and gable styled roof. It has elaborate and ornate church frontage depicting saints and religious imagery. I enjoyed walking around cathedrals and found that this was a somber design still worth visiting. The churches design and outline reminded me of more of sedated version of York Minister. After speaking to Carol, who has an immense knowledge of architecture, that Scottish churches tend to utilize simple design.

Chanonry Point

Inverness has a local population of bottlenose dolphins that reside in the Moray Firth.
Chanonry point is meant to the best place to watch the dolphins as they usually stay close to shore over the summer and provide the best opportunity to see them while they catch salmon. 

These are photos of the dolphins at Chanonry Point:

We headed to the Bay, which was half an hour journey to Fortrose on the bus. The nearest bus stop to the point meant a two-mile hike. This time I didn't see any dolphins, but I did get some lovely photos of the bay. 

Eden Courts Beer and Cider Festival

To finish our first day in Inverness, we attended The North Hop a Beer and Cider Festival at Eden Court, which resembled a barn gathering used hay stacks to create the feeling. The event also included an array of live bands and an acoustic guitarist. There were food stalls and independent craft vendors selling various crafts, bakery goods and coffee. I drank Strawberry Cider, exceptionally sweet and tasted of strawberries and cream, and Elderberry Cider was refreshingly summer cider sweet. Both were brewed by the Thistly Cross Cider, who a produce Scottish Farm Cider.

Birthday Cake

When I got back to B&B to celebrate my birthday with a triple layer Victoria sponge with cream filling and icing, decorated with berries and my birthday candle. 


  1. Looks like a lovely trip, and a bit strange that we were both up in Inverness at roughly the same time. I never really left Moniack, though our taxi driver to and from the station took us on a bit of a scenic tour, so we got to see the Loch - it's so beautiful. The northern lights were a bit of a highlight for us.

    I'm not sure what's going on with your blog's formatting, but there are 3 paragraphs blocked out in white that I can't read :( Thought it may be my laptop, but its the same on my tablet.

    I'm taking some time out from both blogging and FB, so you may note that I've vanished this morning - my blog has been set to private while I ponder what to do with it. Take care. Jx

  2. It was an amazing trip to Inverness, and it very strange how we have both went to Inverness as well. I guess fate got some kind of weird plan. I wish I could have observed the Northern Lights clearly, still see them through the cloudy sky was still strange and wonderful.

    Sorry about the crappy formatting, but thanks for informing me of it. I understand, life at time get busy and we need to remove ourselves from tech. I need to at the moment as I am ridiculously busy at mom. I look foreward to a free weekend, again

  3. we were really high up above Inverness, actually above the cloud which helped. It had been pretty foggy all day, until about 3pm then suddenly cleared to the most beautiful skies.

    Hope you manage to get some 'Sarah time' this weekend.

  4. Yeap, not until next weekend. I am have to work for to assist with the homes open day.


Life Update.

Hi, it's been a very long hiatus, not to say the least. Since my last post, a lot happened in October. I had a death in the family ...