We have a grand plan today! We’re off to the large land-mass to the north of us that is the Black Isle – perversely named because it’s actually not an island and not particularly black! We won’t have time to cover it all, but we want to give it a damn good thrashing! 😃
Surrounded on three sides by water – a peninsular – one of the theories about its colour-attribute is that it remains snow-free whilst the surrounding mountains are covered in the white stuff!
I didn’t know that! 😮
It’s a cool start, but 11℃ by 11am is none-too-shabby for this time of year!
8.30am: But before all that, it’s breakfast – and our first experience of what Kingsmills has to offer in these crazy COVID-19 times!
The hotel was very well organised at breakfast with an invite-only-from-your-table-hot-brekky-buffet option together with table service for everything else.
For my non-UK readers, unlike the nearby Isle, a Black Pudding IS actually black, but just to keep it confusing, it’s NOT a pudding. 😳
9.45am: Off we go, and it’s spot the tourist! (us!!!) The locals are wandering around in shirt-sleeves – and we’re not! Typical woosy-Sassenachs ehh!! We jumped in the car for the short journey northwards with the car’s heating on ’11’ together with the heated seats set to ‘max’.
10.55am: Our first stop was Beauly – not the one for petrol-heads, the one with the Priory!
A splendid construction and in the now-familiar ‘red’ stone that seems to be all the rage round these parts.
Next port of call was the adjacent High Street. It had the sort of shops that hinted that this is an affluent area…
…including the rather well-known (apparently!) Campbell and Co, supplier of all things tweed for the ‘huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ fraternity! We noted the photo of Prince Charles ‘dropping by’ proudly on display inside! 😁
12.05pm: Stop 2 was the town of Fortrose. This was home to a ruined cathedral…
Fortrose was a bit of a ‘one-horse town’. We took a walk aroud the area, but it was pretty-much deserted and eerily quiet. Nice view across the water though…
12.55pm: Our third stop was Cromarty…
We found a car-park (free-of-charge again!) and found ourselves pretty close to the water-front. We were immediately struck by the numerous exceptionally large ‘oil rig’ type constructions, which felt like they were in touching distance!
Actually, on reflection, whether they were constructing or de-constructing was difficult to tell, but it was a hive of activity. The locals didn’t seem to be paying much attention, but to us, it all looked somewhat strange!
1.20pm: Looking back towards the land, we spotted the old lighthouse (de-commissioned in 2005) now looked-after by the University of Aberdeen (not ALL of them) for their Field Studies.
…and if ‘oil rigs’ within touching distance wasn’t weird enough, how about the above? It was very tall ‘monolith’ with wording referring to ‘Cleopatra’. It all seemed a bit strange and a bit out-of-place, but later I did some research…
Apparently the 13ft construction is the “Cromarty Emigrants’ Standing Stone” with words by Cromarty’s most famous son, Hugh Miller. It relates to the vessel Cleopatra, one of 62 emigrant ships that set sail from Cromarty in 1831 for Canada. The actual wording is HERE.
1.50pm: No research needed for the next part! – the local hotel – The Royal Hotel – for a coffee-break! We were glad to be inside in the warm! 👍
The hotel had clearly seen better days, but the coffee wasn’t bad and the service was polite and efficient. We stayed for around half-an-hour thawing-out before heading back in the general direction of the car taking in a few more of examples of the local architecture…
2.15pm: Back on the road, we headed for our final stop of the day – the town of Dingwall, about a thirty-minute drive away.
2.55pm: Again, we parked for free! (I like it!) and we were soon in the high street. There were plenty of shops and plenty of people, but it all felt a bit less-affluent than our other destinations today. ‘Throbbing’ may be a bit of an over-statement, but the town’s shops seemed well-supported.
It was a pity that the local Museum wasn’t open as it apparently packed with lots of information about the town since the demise of the Town Council in 1975.
3.05pm: In fact, it was probably a good job the Museum WAS closed, otherwise our late lunch would have been even later! Luckily, we stumbled upon a small café, just off the high street called The Courtyard Café. It was (still) far too cold to eat outside, so we got table inside and enjoyed a quick bite! 😉
3.50pm: It was only as we returned to the car, we noticed a tower high on a a hill. We learned that it’s the MacDonald Monument. Built in 1907 dedicated to the memory of (deep breath!) Major-General Sir Hector Archibald Macdonald, KCB, DSO, ADC. It’s a fair distance away and a bit of a climb, so maybe we were lucky that it’s currently closed! 😊
Tomorrow, we’re heading in the direction of Loch Ness. Hopefully, a monster of a day! 😁