Thursday, 16 February 2012

INVERNESS

Inverness is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom, and is regarded as the capital of the Scottish Highlands. The 'ness' of the name refers to the River Ness, which flows into the Moray Firth at Inverness. However, there is a much more famous body of water nearby bearing the same name, Loch Ness, and it is this which draws huge numbers of visitors to the area, although that is not to say that Inverness does not have attractions of its own. The Caledonian Canal also empties into the Moray Firth at Inverness, meaning that there is a sizeable chunk of the city which is almost surrounded by water. The city has a 19th century castle on the east bank of the Ness, which is now used as the court house. On the west bank is the 19th century St Andrew's Cathedral, with its highly prized stain glass, while the Old High Church is much older, dating from the 14th century. A walk up Craig Phadrig is rewarded with fine views over the city and along the Great Glen, and it is topped with a Pictish fort. The site of the Battle of Culloden is only a few miles away, and there is a Visitor Centre there. The Eden Court Theatre stands on the banks of the river, and there are a number of ghosts associated with its environs, including a Green Lady who is believed to have been the wife of a bishop, and the ghost of Duncan I who haunts the river bank close to the theatre.

Continuing the spooky theme, on the outskirts of Inverness is a heavily wooded hill called Tomnahurich Hill, which is oozing with mystery and legend. Tales surrounding the Hill include that of a Gaelic king called Fionn with a clever dog called Bran who was trained to walk two of every species of animal - including a pair of whales - around the hill in a bid to escape the enchantments of an Irish king. A 13th century seer called Thomas the Rhymer is allegedly buried on the hill along with his men and horses, and he is set to rise up again to save Scotland in her hour of need. Added to which a Fairy Queen once held court on the hill and tricked a couple of wandering fiddlers into playing supposedly for one night, but when they left and headed back into town they were dismayed to find everything changed and unrecognisable: the Fairy Queen had kept them for 200 years. The mysterious atmosphere of the Hill is enhanced by the presence of gravestones dating from the time when there was a cemetery there.

For a list of events in Inverness, see here

Webcam view of the castle.

Map of the area.


© 2004 Hartmut Josi Bennöhr, via Wikimedia Commons

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