Information and ideas for places to visit in and around Inverness

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Ring of Brodgar, Orkney

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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Loch Ness

Is it worth visiting Loch Ness?

As one of the most famous landmarks in the country, the answer has to be yes – it is worth visiting Loch Ness. And there are so many ways to experience this stunning location. Loch Ness starts a few miles from the Highland capital, Inverness. It’s a very long and deep stretch of water, in fact it’s 22 miles long. Three lochs, including Loch Ness stretch the width of Scotland from Fort William to Inverness. The lochs are linked together by the man-made Caledonian Canal, which was designed by Thomas Telford. The canal was completed in 1822, which was 5 years after it was due and it cost more than double the estimate. Some things never change!

Of course Loch Ness is much more famous for what lies beneath. Sightings of the Loch Ness Monster have been reported since 1933, As a result, people have been Nessie hunting ever since. You can join in the search for the elusive creature. Take a drive passed Loch Ness and even the biggest sceptic is tempted to take a peak. What is that big dark shadow that seems to be moving? Something is sticking out of the water – is it Nessie’s head or perhaps some driftwood?

Whichever way you decide to take in the wonderful setting of Loch Ness, there’s interest for everyone.

History

Fifteen miles from Inverness is Urquhart Castle, which stands on the cliff edge just outside Drumnadrochit, It’s well worth a visit with views of the Loch, which are only seen from inside the castle boundary. For a fascinating insight into Scotland’s geological past, Loch Ness Exhibition Centre is the place to visit. It’s also in the village of Drumnadrochit. If you’re interested in the engineering of the Caledonian Canal, the Visitor Centre in Fort Augustus gives a fascinating history of the canal. Furthermore, as it’s the farthest tip of Loch Ness there’s a wonderful viewpoint to take in the landscape.

Landmarks

There are many places you’ll want to stop and take a photograph around Loch Ness. Fortunately there are many places to park your vehicle safely to admire the view. As well as the iconic landmarks of Urquhart Castle, the canal locks at Fort Augustus and the viewpoint at Fort Augustus, there’s interest all round the loch. On the other side there’s the Falls of Foyers and the viewpoint in Dores Village. You can see across to Urquhart Castle in the distance.

Ways to Travel

If you want to go all around Loch Ness, the easiest way is by car. There are many interesting and useful places to stop along the way, so you could take all day for the whole journey or drive round in a couple of hours. The north side of the Loch has the A82 running alongside it, which is the main road to Fort William. As a result the traffic is busier on that side than the south. The southern side meanders and has some parts for single lane traffic with passing places. Many other means of transport are available, such as bus, foot, cycle, kayak and boat. For the best information on the many off-road routes and paths www.lochness360.com will inspire you.

Many people take in the Loch on a boat trip, such as Jacobite Cruises. They offer different trips each day but a typical trip is the 2 hour trip which includes an hour at Urquhart Castle.

Eating Out

There are too many hotels, restaurants and cafes along the route to mention them all. A few favourites are the Dores Inn, An Talla and Camerons Tea Room and Farm Shop.

Accommodation

Bannerman Bed and Breakfast is a perfect base to explore Loch Ness. We are situated on the A82, the road to Loch Ness but still within walking distance of the centre of Inverness. Contact us for more information on this dog-friendly Inverness b&b.

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