Signpost at John O'Groats

Is it worth visiting John O’Groats?

For the journey alone, it is worth visiting John O’Groats. It is almost the northern most tip of Scotland’s mainland and a destination many want to achieve. Charity runners and riders often trek from Land’s End at the southern most tip of England to John O’Groats. From Inverness it is 120 miles away. With some stunning scenery enroute and pretty villages full of history, it’s a great day out from Inverness. Going up the north east coast of Scotland on the A9 it is part of the circular North Coast 500.

John O’Groats is a tiny village. The name comes from a 15th century Dutchman, Jan de Groot, who ran a ferry from the mainland to the Orkney Isles. On a clear day you can see the first of the many islands of Orkney. These days many people stop here for the iconic photograph of the famous signpost. There’s plenty of space for parking, stretching your legs, toilets, as well as cafes and shops.

Dolphin Spotting on the Black Isle

Whilst there isn’t a great deal at John O’Groats itself, the journey there and back is full of interest. From Inverness you head north on the A9 over the Kessock Bridge and through the Black Isle. There’s a well known viewing point for dolphin spotting at Channery Point. It’s a few miles off the A9 between the villages of Fortrose and Rosemarkie. If you are privileged to see the dolphins jumping and playing it’s a wonderful sight.

Falconry at Dunrobin Castle and Gardens

The next bridge takes you over the Cromarty Firth and you can’t fail to notice the unused oil riggs across the seascape. You’re soon in Tain, which is home to the world famous distillery Glenmorangie. Tain Pottery is also based here. Next stop is Dunrobin Castle, which is near Golspie, and is a magnificent building full of history. The gardens are beautiful with breathtaking views out to sea. Twice a day there is a falconry display in the gardens.

Timespan Museum, Helmsdale

The fishing village of Helmsdale is worth a stop. On the outskirts is the Emigrants’ Statue, in memory of all the people forced from their homes to leave Scotland during the Highland Clearances. You can learn more about this and the history of the area at the excellent Timespan Museum in Helmsdale. North of Helmsdale you head into Caithness and soon encounter the Berriedale Braes. This notorious stretch of road has recently been improved to iron out the severe hairpin bends, but you still need to take care. Check your breaks before this point in the road.

There are a couple of small towns near the most northerly point, Wick and Thurso. There are more castles, museums and churches to visit. Just south of Wick is Old Wick Castle, which is a Norse ruin on an amazing cliff walk. Also nearby is Duncansby Head where you will see the Duncansby Stacks.

The next stop is John O’Groats and you have reached your destination. These are just a few suggestions of places to visit along the route. There are many more to suit all interests. If you’re continuing round the North Coast 500, here‘s some useful information to help plan your trip. You don’t have to stop here, you can go further north to Orkney. Find out why you should stay here at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast, the perfect base before heading north.

Stones of Stenness

3 Days in Orkney

Orkney is really worth a visit and easily reached from Inverness. Although it is possible to take a day trip from here, it is a very long day. As I’ve just experienced, there is so much to see so I recommend going for at least 3 days. I also recommend going on a tour so you get the full experience of all Orkney has to offer. My tour was 3 days in Orkney from Inverness with Rabbies. They organise the travel, ferry, timings and bookings at attractions. So it is great to be able to relax in a very comfortable minibus and enjoy the spectacular views without having to organise a thing. There are a lot of places off the typical tourist route on the trip, which are very memorable.

World Heritage Site

Orkney is a collection of islands just off the coast of northern mainland Scotland, which is reached by air or ferry. There are about 70 islands, about 20 of them are inhabited. People have lived on Orkney for over 5000 years. It contains some of the oldest and best preserved Neolithic sites in Europe. The Ring of Brodgar dates from around 2500 BC and is the third oldest stone circle in Britain. This Ring plus Skarra Brae, the Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe, Barnhouse Stone and the Watch Stone make up the Heart of the Neolithic Orkney World Hertitage site.

More Recent History

The Royal Navy had a base at Scapa Flow, which played a major part in both WWI and WWII. The German fleet scuttled their boats at the end of WWI at Scapa flow and a German U boat sank HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Flow. After this huge loss prisoners of war built barriers across the water to close access to the channels. As a result these barriers became causeways linking islands, allowing travellers to move easily between islands without the need of a ferry. The prisoners of war also built the amazing Italian Chapel.

The Italian Chapel

Kirkwall and Stromness

The capital is Kirkwall and about one third of Orkadians live there. Stromness is on an inlet of Scapa Flow and is the main port. Both are pretty towns full of character. The centre of Kirkwall is dominated by St Magnus Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace, so they are well worth visiting. There is an impressive amount of local food suppliers throughout Orkney and many independent shops. The land is very fertile and as a result award winning local produce is available. Check out JP Orkney’s site for some delicious examples available, with deliveries to the rest of the UK. As well as offering the fabulous little honesty box pictured below, they run tours of the islands.

This is a rich and fertile land. Full of history, culture, nature and stunning scenery, Orkney is well worth a visit. After a busy 3 days in Orkney I’m sure there is still a lot more to see. To find out more about all there is to see read more at Orkney.com. Read more on the journey to John O’Groats from Inverness on your way to the ferry port. You can start your adventure to the northern isles with a break in Inverness. This is an ideal starting point to explore the Scottish Highlands. Read more on why you should stay at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast.

Highland Archive Centre

Highland Archive Centre

The Highland Archive and Registration Centre is a fantastic resource, which is near here. The Highland Archive Centre collects and preserves historical records about the Highlands, so they are accessible to the public. Scots have travelled the world for centuries, so it’s not surprising international guests flock to Scotland to find out about their past. Generations of people living thoughout the globe have Scottish roots. If you are looking into your family history, the Highland Archive Centre is the place to start.

The centre includes a Family History Room, which has a wealth of information for anyone exploring their family tree. The staff are experts in researching Scottish genealogy. They are available for one to one consultations, which is worth booking. You can also get their help by remote contact so you don’t have to visit in person.

Highland Collections

The fascinating collections held by the Highland Archive Centre go back centuries. These include maps, property valuations, education records and poor relief records. If you haven’t done any digging into your history before, there are many useful guides here.

Conservation Services

The Conservation Studios provide a range of treatments for conservation and preservation of documents and artefacts. Services include cleaning, re-construction and repair of archaeological objects. They also bind and repair volumes, parchment paper, seals, photographs and plans. The highly trained staff advise institutions on how to conserve their precious artefacts.

Highland Registrar

Also on the site is the Highland Registrars, continuing the theme of record keeping for now and the future. This is the registration service where births, deaths and marriages are recorded. The centre regularly holds civil marriage and civil partnership ceremonies for up to 130 guests.

Highland Bed and Breakfast

If you need the services of the Highland Archive Centre, then this is your perfect base. If you’re looking into your family tree or your a history lover, Bannerman Bed and Breakfast is ideally located. Looking for wedding accommodation in Inverness? If you’re attending a wedding at the Highland Regitrars’ office in Inverness, book your accommodation at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast. We are a short drive or 10 minutes walk from the Highland Archive Centre, which includes the Registrars. We’re also ideally located for getting into town as well. Drop us a line for more details. Read more about why you should stay here.

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How to travel to Inverness

There are many ways to travel to Inverness. The journey from every direction is beautiful, so worth savouring if you can. If you’ve never been to Inverness take a look on a map. It’s on the north east coast of Scotland but it’s situated more west than the west coast of England. It sits at one end of the longest loch in Scotland, Loch Ness, the Great Glen Way and the Caledonian Canal which stretches to Fort William on the west coast. It’s at sea level but surrounded by hills and mountains.

By Train

Scotrail run the train service and provide all information on timetables and tickets. The journey from Edinburgh or Glasgow is about 3 hours 20 minutes and from Aberdeen it’s 2 hours and 15 minutes. From London it takes about 8 hours. How about taking the Caledonian Sleeper so you can leave the busy city in the evening and wake up in the beautiful Scottish Highlands feeling refreshed about a good night’s sleep.

By Bus

There are a few coach companies running bus services to Inverness. Check my bus give you details on the best prices and routes available.

By Car

From the south the most direct route to Inverness is up the A9, taking in the Grampian mountains with plenty of interest along the route. The House of Bruar is a good stopping point. It’s 2 hours from Inverness and is an excellent opportunity for refreshments, toilets and a stretch of the legs. From Glasgow and the west coast you can also take the A82, which is a very scenic route, passing Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland.

By Plane

Inverness airport is 7 miles from the city and it’s small, so it’s an easy connection, Most flights are internal with a few international exceptions including Amsterdam and Dublin. The flight time from London is about one hour and thirty minutes. Easyjet and British Airways fly most of the flights with Loganair providing vital connections to the Scottish islands.

Whichever way you get here, you’ll discover Inverness is a perfect base for exploring the Scottish Highlands. Read more in my blog on why you should stay in Inverness and in particular, why you should stay at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast. For help in planning your next trip, please get in touch.

The road to Kylesku

What is the North Coast 500?

The North Coast 500 is one of the best road trips in the world with the most beautiful landscape. It’s a circular route of the north coast of Scotland taking in rugged coastline and breath taking scenery. The key to making the most of this memorable experience is planning in advance. Here’s some tips on getting the best out of the trip.

The usual starting point is Inverness, the highland capital. You can go clockwise or anticlockwise, it’s entirely up to you. The route takes you through the east coast villages of Brora, Golspie, Helmsdale and up to Wick. It takes in John O’Groats, the most northerly point of the UK mainland. From there you go along the top of the north coast of Scotland, possibly taking in the view of Orkney on a clear day. Then there’s the dramatic north coastline and equally rugged west coastline down through the port of Ullapool and to the village of Applecross and back to Inverness. The route is challenging in places, with sections of single track road.

Accommodation

There is a wide range of types of accommodation whatever your budget. You’ll need at least 3 days to travel the route, although many advise longer. Booking accommodation in advance is essential. The route is popular all year round, especially in the summer months. Most of the road takes in small villages, so it’s advisable to book ahead for accommodation and dinner reservations.

Road Safety

Always remember to drive on the left and keep to the left starting off and when turning into another road. Visitors should familiarise themselves with the Highway Code in advance, especially on how to drive on single track roads. There are some parts of the NC500 which are not suitable for large/long vehicles. An alternative road is a better option for a long motorhome in places. You wouldn’t want to get stuck on a hairpin bend and block the traffic in both directions. You can find more information on maximum size of vehicles and alternative routes here.

Remember this wonderful route is shared by local people whose lives and livelihoods depend on these roads. You are also sharing it with fellow travellers from all over the road, who are not familiar with the area. Some stretches of the NC500 are unfenced, so it’s quite possible to encounter cows, sheep, goats or deer crossing the road. So please drive and ride responsibly, safely and respectfully. Remember to leave the countryside as you would wish to find it – leave no trace of your visit.

Take Your Time

There’s such a lot to take in on the North Coast 500. It’s worth doing some research before your trip and deciding what interests you and your travellers most. You can immerse yourself in the Scottish wilderness. You’ll find mountains, hidden hill lochs, Highland glens and deserted golden beaches right on your doorstep. This is a great opportunity to experience the Highland way of life and Scotland’s rich culture through amazing food, music and craftmanship. The main thing to remember is to take your time – you’re on holiday after all.

Inverness Base

Bannerman Bed and Breakfast is a perfect base to start and finish your trip around the North Coast 500. From here you can soak up the culture of the capital of the Highlands, Inverness and visit the iconic Loch Ness. Read more on why you should stay at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast and check availability for your next trip here.

Craig Phadraig

Dog Friendly Inverness Accommodation

Many people are holidaying in the UK for the first time. If you want to include your dog, you’ll need dog friendly accommodation. This is a perfect base in the Scottish Highlands providing Inverness dog friendly accommodation.

We have 4 comfortable ensuite rooms, 2 large king-size doubles, a twin and a single with a double bed. Each room has home comforts – a television, tea/coffee, silent fridge, hairdryer and free wifi. There’s space for a dog bed in each room.

This is a great location with or without your pet. We are walking distance from the riverside, with the Bught Park and Ness Islands nearby making an ideal walk. We’re also not far from the Caledonian Canal, a superb setting for a picturesque walk with a tempting dog friendly pub along the way. Further afield we have a great choice of beaches, golf courses and gardens to visit. Or you may prefer getting out in the hills and making the most of the Highland air and stunning scenery. Read more on my favourite beaches in the area.

I can recommend a few dog friendly eating places too.

An Talla

Four miles from Inverness on the banks of the Caledonian Canal, this modern cafe is at one of the starting points for a cruise on Loch Ness. Jacobite Cruises own this restaurant, shop and ticket office for boat trips. An Talla is open from 10am – 4pm every day, so it’s an ideal spot for coffee and cake after a dog walk along the canal. You can also take your dog on a boat trip.

Black Isle Bar

This is a city centre bar with a great relaxed atmosphere. They serve organic wine and beer and the beer is from their own Black Isle Brewery. Also excellent pizzas are made in their wood fired pizza oven. They are quick to offer a bowl of water for your dog.

McGregors Bar

Another city centre bar specialising in Scottish fayre. It’s a former Scottish Pub of the Year and often features live traditional music. The food, service and atmosphere are great and there’s lovely outdoor terrace.

Clachnaharry Inn

This is a very well known pub locally with a great reputation for a Sunday roast. It’s situated near the Caledonian Canal so it’s a perfect spot for a pub lunch after a dog walk along the canal.

To book a break with your dog, then look no further than this Inverness dog friendly accommodation. To find out our rates and availability check out website.

inverness-castle-bnb

Where should I stay in Scotland

Inverness is one of 7 cities in Scotland and a must-see city for anyone visiting Scotland. There’s a rich variety of places to see in and around the City. It’s also a perfect base for getting to other parts of the Scottish Highlands. So if you’re asking where should I stay in Scotland, Inverness should be on your list.

It’s a bustling city, with breath-taking scenery and you can’t forget its famous Loch is home to the infamous Loch Ness Monster! That’s what makes it the perfect exploration ground for a staycation.

So to help you plan a trip, we’ve put together a short itinerary of some of the things you might enjoy in and around the area when you’re here. We’ve tied this in with VisitScotland’s staycation guide, which has been created to help visitors plan their ideal trip. There’s something for everyone – adventure seekers, curious travellers, history enthusiasts, foodies and lovers of the outdoors. Check out our recommended itinerary for exploring Inverness in four days.

Day 1

For the adventure seeker in you, why not take the challenging cycle along the Great Glen Way, which is 117 km in length, or enjoy something even more thrill-seeking with a bungee jump.

Day 2

For heritage enthusiasts, why not visit the very site of the final Jacobite Rising, Culloden Battlefield? Nearby is Cawdor Castle, a picturesque castle and gardens well worth a visit. Or head to Inverness Cathedral and enjoy the wonderful showcase of architecture and fascinating history.

Day 3

To nourish the food-lover in you, why not visit one of Inverness’ wonderful restaurants. There are lots of options to savour delicious cuisine in friendly relaxed settings after a day of exploring. Read more on my Top 10 Favourite Eating Places in Inverness.

Day 4

For the outdoor lover in you, enjoy the natural surroundings of Inverness with a boat tour on Loch Ness. Be sure to bring your camera in case you catch a glimpse of the legendary Nessie.

Ready to plan your staycation in Inverness? Call, email or book online. We very much look forward to welcoming you here.

Eden Court Theatre

What’s on at Eden Court Theatre

Eden Court is a wonderful art and entertainment centre less than 10 minutes walk from here. We are very fortunate to have this invaluable cultural centre in the Highland capital. With so many events taking place for all tastes everyone wants to know what’s on at Eden Court Theatre.

Empire Theatre

One of 2 theatres, the Empire Theatre is the largest and hosts everything from opera, ballet, musicals, drama, stand-up comedy to traditional music performers. The modern auditorium is a perfect size for both a rousing band and solo performers. The seating is raked so you can be sure of an excellent view of the stage. Furthermore, just like the rest of the building, the theatre is wheelchair accessible.

Cinema

Eden Court showcases the best in contemporary and classis theatre. Films include new releases, blockbusters, arthouse, independent and classics. They are shown in the smaller theatres which still have the great sound and vision of a multiplex.

Education

The theatre offers a wide range of educational courses for young and old. For instance there’s a large programme of Gaelic and traditional arts across the Highlands.

Hospitality

The welcoming restaurant, bar and foyer are a great place to meet. Whether you want to grab a coffee before the cinema or meet friends for lunch Eden Court is an ideal spot. With free wifi and seating areas on three floors, it’s a great base to plan your day.

Under Canvas

During the summer months there’s a very accessible programme of traditional music and DJ sets outside the theatre, but Under Canvas in a long stretch tent. It’s a summer festival from July to September, outside Eden Court on the banks of the beautiful River Ness. As well as the live music, delicious pizzas are served from the wood-fired pizza often alongside a range of local beers, gin and whisky.

For the current what’s on at Eden Court Theatre, check out their website. With it in such close proximity to us, check out why people stay at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast. Find out our rates and availability and all the information your need for Inverness accommodation visit our website.

delicious-breakfast-highlands

Inverness B&B Serving a Vegan Breakfast

Finding an Inverness B&B serving a vegan breakfast shouldn’t be difficult. Most hotels and guest houses are happy to adapt to special diets, but there isn’t always the same choice for vegans as other guests. We’ve always catered for vegetarians but now we’ve gone a step further and created a breakfast menu just for vegans. With a full choice of vegan options, our menu will appeal to guests following a plant-based diet and anyone wanting to cut down on eating meat.

So what’s on the vegan menu?

Just like our standard breakfast menu you can choose to indulge in a hearty breakfast or graize the healthy options. Our overnight oats are very popular appetiser with all the guests. The oats are soaked in almond milk so they are suitable for all. You can opt for a Full Vegan Breakfast including grilled vegetarian sausages for a satisfying start to the day. Avocado and tomatoes on toast or portobello mushrooms with beans, tomatoes and vegan cheese are new additions to the choices available. You can’t beat the traditional Scottish breakfast, porridge, which is flavoured to your liking. Of course as with our standard menu, you can mix and match choices on the vegan menu. Here’s our full vegan menu.

We are still serving our standard breakfast menu alongside this.

Book Now

So if you’ve been yearning for more choice for breakfast this is the place to come. At the moment the number of people on a vegan diet is still quite small. For that reason we ask that you let us know in advance if you’d like a vegan breakfast. One day’s notice is fine. This means we have everything in stock and it avoids food waste. As the number of people following a plant-based diet increases we expect this to become more flexible. Find out more about local restaurants providing vegan options.

For anyone looking for an Inverness b&b with a vegan breakfast please email alison@bannermanbandb.co.uk or check our website for availability. Read more on why you should stay at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast.

Inverness at night

Child Free Accommodation

Did you know that Bannerman Bed and Breakfast provides child free accommodation? It’s not that we don’t like children. It’s just that sometimes it’s nice to stay in child free accommodation that’s exclusively for adults. We have chosen not to squeeze in extra beds and cots to our lovely bedrooms so we can maximise the comfort for guests. Here you can appreciate a comfortable night’s sleep in peace and quiet on your Inverness break. You can enjoy a relaxing breakfast without interruptions from the little ones. This is the perfect place for a UK staycation.

Grown up Break

Of course there are lots of activities and places of interest to visit in the Highlands whilst getting away from the family. As well as a vast array of historic attractions like Culloden Battlefield, Dunrobin Castle and Urquhart Castle, there’s stunning scenery to visit in every direction. We have golden sandy beaches all along the east coast. Nearby there are opportunities for dolphin watching from land and at sea. Wildlife fans can see animals in their natural habitat at Loch Garten, including the magnificent ospreys. For a bit of exercise you can hire bikes from Ticket to Ride which is a short walk away from here. As well as providing the equipment they will advise you on the best routes and provide maps.

Distilleries and Shopping

When the weather’s a wee bit dreich, it’s a great time to visit a distillery or 2. There’s also the Black Isle Brewery and a bit of retail therapy in the Highland capital, Inverness. Without the kids you can indulge in a few late nights. Take in the wonderful selection of restaurants, many of which are walking distance from Bannerman Bed and Breakfast. For example MacGregor’s bar is a former Scottish bar of the year. You can ready more on my top eating places in Inverness.

So go on … treat yourselves to an Inverness break and make the most of your time away from the kids. Check availability for our child free accommodation.