Our Inverness Blog

Information on Inverness, the Highlands and places of interest while staying at our Inverness B&B

At Bannerman Bed and Breakfast we are always delighted to help with advice and recommendations on your visit. Here are some articles that will aid you in planning a memorable trip.

Inverness Castle

What’s happening at Inverness Castle

You can’t miss the big red boards around Inverness Castle at the moment. On closer inspection you’ll see the boards show some of the fascinating history of the castle. The reason for the boards is to close the castle buildings to the general public whilst Inverness Castle gets some dramatic changes. Access to the grounds is still available, so you can still enjoy the terrific views of the riverside and take a snap of Flora MacDonald.

New Development

Until recently Inverness Castle was the home of Inverness law courts. So unless you want to enter the building in handcuffs it’s not open to the general public. Now that the law courts are rehomed, the new plan is to develop the building into a stunning tourist destination. The first phase of the development sees the castle transform into an attraction for visitors and locals. The refurbished castle offers an insight into the fascinating history of Inverness and the Scottish Highlands. The landscape, culture and language will feature heavily. With a history as a court and prison, there are many intriguing spaces and stories to explore. As well as learning, the castle’s raised position overlooking the town will provide areas for eating, drinking shopping and taking in the stunning views. The grounds of the castle are to form an outdoor space to be enjoyed throughout the year.

Storytelling in the Highlands

Storytelling is a great Highland tradition and will feature heavily. Inverness Castle and grounds will celebrate the Spirit of the Highlands in 100 stories, which will capture the essence of the unique history of the area. The project aims to create an ‘Autobiography of the Highlands’. As a result we will have a digital archive built from a collection of stories all told by the people who live, work and visit here.

Inverness Castle Then and Now

Inverness Castle is currently 2 separate buildings. The first of those dates from 1830s and was the a courthouse. The second was built as a prison in the 1840s. This is the same site the original medieval castle. With a long and tempestuous history, the previous castle was set ablaze several times and endured many sieges. The castle was finally destroyed by the Jacobites prior to the Battle of Culloden in 1746. You can find out more about the history of the area and your Scottish roots at the Highland Archive Centre.

In the future a new glass building will link the two towers, providing a wonderful light space with views to the riverside. This public space will be a perfect location to take in Inverness and plan your day from here.

Work has started now on the development with a tentative opening date of the first phase around late 2022. In the meantime there are still many sights to see in and around Inverness. The surrounding grounds are open including the famous statue of Flora MacDonald. The boards around the castle are really interesting and worth a read. For anyone travelling the Great Glen Way the castle is a welcome sight. There’s a stone marking the end of the journey from Fort William to Inverness.

Book your next Inverness stay at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast. This is the perfect base for taking in the sights of Inverness and the surrounding Scottish Highlands.

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 and how to travel to Inverness.

Bannerman Bed and Breakfast
47 Glenurquart Road,
Inverness IV3 5NZ
Scotland

Tel;44 (0)1463 259199
alison@bannermanbandb.co.uk