The city of Inverness is everything we would imagine if we thought about a typical British city. It has charm, cobbled roads in its historic centre, and a main street or “High Street”, full of shops and cafes with hanging planters full of flowers everywhere. The town is small in size, which makes it much easier to get around.
Although strolling around its streets is lovely, seeing the city from above is an experience that no visitor should miss. In this case, the ideal spot to do so is the esplanade of one of the city´s most important monuments, the castle.
From Inverness Castle, we can enjoy not only that general view that we all wish to see when we visit a place for the first time, but we can also see the real star of the city: the River Ness meandering through the centre.
In fact, the river gives the town much more than just a spectacular lanscape, it also gives it its name. The word “Inverness” comes from the Gaelic Inbhir Nismeaning "mouth of the River Ness".
The River Ness is an extension of the famous Loch Ness, which is just 10 kilometres from the lake and flows very close to Inverness, into the Beauly Firth. Its waters are very clean but dark, due to the amount of peat in suspension on them, which is very common in Scottish lakes and rivers.
Many days, from our special point on the castle esplanade, you will be able to see fishermen trying their luck to catch a good salmon or trout in the middle of the river, as its course through Inverness is not very deep, but fast-flowing. From there, we can also admire the beauty of St. Andrew´s Cathedral and some bridges.
The castle itself, a spectacular reddish stone building, is another important landmark. It was first built in 1057 by King Malcolm III of Scotland, later destroyed by Robert I and, again, rebuilt and destroyed several times throughout history. The last destruction took place after the famous Battle of Culloden, the last one fought on British territory.
The current building was rebuilt in 1836. At this time services not very common in the XIX century, such as running water, gas and electricity, were added.
From the castle, we will have not only a beautiful panoramic view of the whole city, but we can also enjoy the wonderfulfloral clock that lies on a small embankment at the bottom. Decoratedwith all kinds of colourful flowers and two large hands, it tells us the time correctly (most days...).
Also at the castle forecourt is the town´s most famous statue, dedicated to Flora MacDonald. After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Flora helped Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, escape from the Isle of Skye by fleeing the Hanoverian militia in a small boat. According to legend, she lent the prince her clothes and even gave him make-up so that he could run away pretending to be a woman. Today, Flora is considered a national heroine - don´t forget your photo with her!
Situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is also the culinary capital of the region. In its restaurants and pubs we can enjoy the extraordinary raw ingredients for which the region is famous: sheep provide formidable lamb, but also the famous haggis.Speyside region is as famous for its whisky as for its hunting, particularly venison. And the Aberdeen region is famous for its beef, the famous Angus beef.
However, and increasingly, food lovers visit the Scottish Highlands looking for its formidable seafood. The secret of the good quality in this region is the contrast between the icy waters of the North Sea and the warmer ones of the Gulf Stream as they lap the west coast of the Highlands and its islands.
Perhaps the quintessential gourmet meal for visitors to Inverness is a hearty mixed seafood platter, usually shared by several diners. Scottish oysters, which are grown mainly in the Argyll region, are always on the menu.
Shetland mussels and Norway lobsters, undoubtedly the most common seafood in the region, are usually part of these mixed dishes. These second ones are also the ideal solution if you are dining with children or teenagers, as the battered version - the famous scampi- is the ideal option for them.
Of course, smoked dishes cannot be absent in a mixed plate like this, especially salmon. Scotland is the world´s second largest producer of salmon after Norway. Both farmed salmon - those travelling along the Scottish coast will see fish farms - or the more exclusive wild salmon which is still fished in the rivers of Speyside and Perthshire, are a must for anyone travelling the Highlands.
Possibly the real jewel of Scottish seafood is scallop. Simply grilled with a little butter is how they bring out their full flavour and this is how they usually appear in mixed dishes. However, in Scottish restaurants and pubs they are also often cooked in a cream and bacon sauce. The contrast between the flavour of the fish and the animal fat is fascinating, but not very dietary or healthy.
British cities have a special charm when we get away from their High Streets and look for something different, traditional and unique. Inverness is a good example of this, and in this section we are going to focus on its Victorian Market.
The market dates back to 1890 and is home to small family-run and independent businesses, very different from those found on High Street.
To understand the history of this market, we have to go back to the XIX century, when the United Kingdom became the engine of Europe. It was the Industrial Revolution and British cities began to grow. In the north of Scotland, Inverness was the most important city, classified as a royal borough, and it experienced an unprecedented growth.
Until then, Inverness held open-air markets and fairs, usually in the main square. As in Scotland rains almost every day, the city council decided to build a covered market.
Today, its little shops offer visitors and locals an alternative and traditional way of shopping. Aesthetically, it is a very special attraction and leaves no one indifferent since a myriad of bright colours inside the market contrasts with the grey colour of the rain outside.
Some of the highlights are the shiny red iron arches that decorate the white gabled roof, the vibrant colours painted on the facades of each of the shops and the large clock which tells the visitors how fast time passes while shopping.
In the market we can find Scottish clothes shops where you could buy the famous kiltsor Scottish skirts with all their accessories. If you walk through the centre of any Scottish town or city you would likely see a gentleman wearing a kilt. Even today, the Scots still wear them for important events, such as weddings, funerals and graduations.
The famous plaid pattern of the Scottish kilt is called tartanand is a constant among the souvenirs which travellers take back home from this land. What not everyone knows is that each of these patterns has its own meaning: each Scottish family or clan has its own tartan.If you would like to know from which family a man is, you only need to recognise the pattern of his kilt.
No less famous are tweedclothing. It is a rough, warm and hard-wearing woollen fabric ideal for outdoor activities in the cold and wet winter. Often associated with hunting and golf, tweedaccessories have become an icon of British style and elegance. Harris´ hallmark tweed, made in the Western Isles of Scotland, is a guarantee of quality and craftsmanship.
Apart from the traditional kiltshops, the Victorian market also has a candy shop for the little ones, beauty and tea salons, bagpipe shops, jewellers, watchmakers, t-shirt printers, an esoteric store, its famous Scottish cake factory, florists, Scottish gift boutiques, a traditional fish shop, a costume store, electronic shops, oriental food stalls, chocolates, a haberdashery store, etc.
After all this shopping, what we need is a break to recharge our batteries, but we don´t have to leave the market to do so. Inside you can also find charming cafés full of delicious cupcakes, cakes, chocolates and, of course, the famous five o´clock tea.
Academy St, Inverness IV1 1JN
Opening hours: 7:00 am – 06:30 pm
GREIG STREET BRIDGE, THE RIVER NESS MOST FAMOUS BRIDGE
The River Ness is a river in the north of Scotland, it is about 10 kilometres long and rises as an extension of the famous and mysterious Loch Ness. It flows through the centre of the Highland capital of Inverness, and dies in the Beauly Firth, just a few kilometres from the city.
The river divides the city in two, and there are several bridges over it, such as the Ness Islands Bridge, the Infirmary Bridge, the Friars Bridge or the Waterloo Bridge. However, we have to highlight a very special one: the Greig Street Bridge. Undoubtedly, it is the most picturesque and remarkable of them all, and the perfect place to take that Inverness photo we all are looking for.
Greig Street Bridge is a suspension pedestrian wrought iron bridge built between 1880 and 1881 by the civil engineer C. Manners. The bridge was greeted by the people of Inverness with delight as it is a real gem.
While standing in the centre of this beautiful bridge taking your picture, you might find out that it sways a little, don´t panic! Tradition dictates that from time to time, a few young Invernessians stand in the centre of the bridge and jump all together to move it slightly. It´s perfectly safe, as all the wiring was replaced in 1952 and the swaying doesn´t affect the platform at all. So enjoy the best picture of the city without worrying!
Although it is possible to find some padlocks on the structure, following the worldwide trend born out of a teen romance film, Inverness police often removes them and have asked that no one leaves them there. They rust the construction and, above all, have caused accidents with cyclists who have been caught in them while passing by.
LEAKEY’S, THE BEST BOOKSHOP IN SCOTLAND
You don´t have to be a bookworm to spend some time at Leakey´s, one of the UK´s most fascinating bookshops. For years Charles Leakey, its owner, collected and sold second-hand books in two slightly impersonal shops in the city. In 1994 he decided to acquire an old XVIII century Gaelic derelict church and turn it into a home for his thousands of volumes.
From the street, the sign Leakey´s can be distinguished among the many churches in Inverness. Even stained glass still decorates its pointed windows. As we enter, we are surrounded by the unmistakable aroma of old books. In the warmth of a huge wood-burning fireplace, book-lovers search for old editions and volumes that are impossible to find elsewhere. The place also has a remarkable collection of maps and engravings, which can be the perfect souvenir of a trip to Scotland.
In the centre of the bookshop, an imposing wooden pulpit is a reminder of the building´s religious past. There is much to see in the city, but it is hard not to give in to the temptation to sit for a while by the fireplace and browse through one of the many books available. As is often the case in second-hand bookstores, the names, dates, dedications and annotations of the texts former owners are almost as interesting as their contents and invite us to imagine the stories they have lived.
An imposing spiral staircase leads to the first floor, once occupied by the church choir, but now also filled with volumes. It´s easy to feel like you´re living in a film in such surroundings, and at any moment you´d think you´d find Harry Potter and his friends searching for ancient tomes of magic.
Unfortunately, Leakey´s coffee shop closed a few years ago to make room for more editions. But even if we can´t grab a coffee anymore, this romantic and evocative place is still a must during our stay in the city.
Church St, Inverness IV1 1EY
Opening hours: 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
HAGGIS, A TYPICAL SCOTTISH DISH
As in every country in the world, gastronomy plays an important role in Scottish culture. Scotland can boasts about having one of the most striking dishes in the world, haggis.
If we are told the ingredients and how it is made, we may find it hard to dare to try it, but if we pluck up the courage and decide to do it, it will captivate us forever. Would you attempt to eat it?
Haggisis, like most of the world´s typical foods, a popular and humble dish.
As is the case in Spain with pork, of which they eat absolutely everything, in Scotland, sheep and lamb are consumed entirely.
In the past, once the animal was cut up, the most valuable meat was used to feed the Scottish middle and upper classes and the poorer population had to make do with the offal. Lungs, spleen, heart, kidneys, intestines and liver are simmered together with onions, oatmeal, herbs and spices. All this is put into a large lamb casing (nowadays this casing is synthetic) and left to cook for a long period of time.
Haggisis no longer eaten every day in Scottish homes as it once was, but has become an exceptional dish, eaten on Sundays and holidays. They use to have it on the night of 25 January each year. This date is called “Burns Night”, the night commemorating the birth of the Scottish national poet, Robert Burns. On this night, haggisis dined, malt whisky is drunk, folk dancing is performed and the poems of the Scottish bard are recited in every home in the country. In 1878, Burns dedicated an entire piece to the dish, and the writer has been remembered ever since as eating his favourite meal.
The proper way to eat haggisis with what they call Tattiesand Neeps, meaning radish and mashed potatoes, and for the more daring, a splash of good Scotch whisky.
The result is spectacular; a kind of juicy, spicy, smooth, meaty stuffing that will delight everyone. You won´t go home without a piece of haggisin your suitcase.
We hope that from the moment you visit Inverness, it will be part of your heart and your fondest memories...
We are waiting for you!
THE UNICORN, AN SCOTTISH ANIMAL
If you walk through Inverness city centre, you will certainly pass the square where the railway station is located, on the corner of Academy Street and Hamilton Street.
There you will notice a column with a small sculpture of a rampant unicorn. In Scotland, this is a feature of many squares that used to be markets such as Inverness, Glasgow and Stirling. Those fans of the Outlander series probably saw one in the first season, in a small town called Culross.
It is common for a country to have its national animal. Often nations choose them for their fierceness or nobility. The United States chose the eagle, which symbolises freedom and individualism. England has the lion, the perfect symbol of strength. The Italian wolf represents the cunning and team spirit of this nation.
Other nations choose exotic animals that can be found only there, such as the kangaroo in Australia. It was inevitable that a nation as fond of legends and myths as Scotland would choose a mythological animal to represent it: the unicorn is the Scottish national animal.
Of course, this creature is a noble and powerful animal, with nothing to envy the lion or the eagle except existence in the real world. But it is another of its qualities that most suits the Scottish character. The ancients believed that the unicorn was impossible to tame and keep in captivity.
The narwhal horns that sometimes arrived with Scandinavian and Baltic traders in medieval towns convinced the people of Scotland not only of their existence, but of their indomitable spirit: only dead, a unicorn would surrender its freedom. Such love for independence matches perfectly with Scotland, which many times had to defend its own freedom in bloody battles with England.
Legend has it that the unicorn can only be tamed by a king or a virgin maiden. This attracted the Stuart dynasty when they ascended to the Scottish throne. They decided to convert a symbol of independence into a symbol of loyalty to the crown. The unicorn, which symbolised the country, became the coat of arms of the royal house, albeit in chains. The kings made sure that a unicorn was always present in the squares of Scottish cities to commemorate this story.
NESS ISLANDS, NATURE IN THE CITY
If you fancy a pleasant walk through wild nature, you don´t have to leave the city of Inverness. We can walk to the Ness Islands, a collection of tiny islands in the middle of the River Ness which can be reached by beautiful suspension bridges connected to the shore.
Walking around the Ness Islands, you´ll forget you´re in a city. They´re a true haven of peace, filled with towering trees and typical Scottish Highland vegetation. There´s even a Nessie(the affectionate name for the mythological Loch Ness Monster) carved into a log! You´ll have to keep your eyes peeled to find him.
The first bridges on the Ness Islands were built in the XIX century, in 1828. Prior to their construction the islands were only accessible by boat. The original bridges disappeared due to the terrible floods at Inverness in 1849 and were replaced between 1853 and 1854 by two suspension platforms designed by William Dredge.
The Ness Islands are a place where tourists stroll around but they are mostly known by locals who go for long walks in the rain (don´t forget that we are in Scotland).
The islands are home to different species of trees as well as animals such as bats, and you may even see a deer occasionally.
There are some children´s playground areas, but the most striking feature is its miniature Railway Network. This network with 184-millimetre-wide tracks was opened in 1983 and today holds the title of the UK´s miniature public Railway Network further north .
This mini railway has several loops, forks and bridges, including an iron one dating from 1837. It normally operates at weekends from Easter to October, but when children have their school holidays it works daily .
The Ness Islands are an oasis of Scottish nature in the middle of the capital of the Highlands. Are you ready to discover them?
PUBS: CRAFT BEER AND LIVE TRADITIONAL MUSIC
In Glasgow and Edinburgh rumour has it that the name Inverness is actually an acronym for "It´s Not Very Exciting Really, Not Even on Saturdays and Sundays". But since the capital of the Scottish Highlands is also a home-base for those wishing to explore one of Europe´s wildest and most beautiful regions, the city´s nightlife and culture has also grown exponentially.
To visit Inverness and not spend some time in its pubs would be a missed opportunity. Pubs in Scotland are the place to socialise, especially on long and cold winter evenings: cosy and comfortable, they´re not meant to be a place to grab something quick and leave, but a place to forget about time and enjoy food, drink, music and conversation.
They are often more like a lounge than a bar. In fact, the very etymology of the name gives us a clue to this. Centuries ago, those who produced beer could get a license to open their lounge to those who wanted to drink the beverage they produced. The place was not longer a "private house" and became a "public house". It is the "public" part the one that gives “pubs” their name.
Many of the city´s best pubs offer live music several nights a week and all provide traditional Scottish cuisine. Apart from the most famous international brands, every place has at least a couple of taps serving real ale, the traditional Scottish beer, prepared by a local craft brewer.
Often called bitter, traditional British ales are less carbonated and have an intense cereal flavour rare to the traditional Czech and German lagers commonly consumed around the world. As they are truly craft beers, each one has a very different flavour. If you are not familiar with a pub, it is common practise to ask for a taster, a small glass of the beer you would like to try, so you could taste it before deciding whether to order a whole pint.
Beer and milk are the only drinks in the UK that are still sold according to the traditional UK measure. A pint is equivalent to just over 0.6 litres. Of course, for those for whom more than half a litre may seem excessive, pubs serve half pints. The range of malt whiskies on offer at pubs is also generous, and you´ll often find one at a good price as a ´malt of the month´.
Live music lovers will find all sorts of venues in Inverness to suit their tastes. Many of them play rock, blues or jazz, but no one should miss a session of traditional Scottish music: in many, local musicians gather daily to play informally, and on special occasions a ceilidhis held and regular customers dance to the rhythms of Celtic folk music.
Wellcome to Europamundo Vacations, your in the international site of:
Bienvenido a Europamundo Vacaciones, está usted en el sitio internacional de: