48 HOURS IN… INVERNESS & LOCH NESS

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Published on January 18, 2018 with No Comments

Going beyond Nessie.

Words and images VISIT BRITAIN

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The cabins at Eagle Brae are made from sustainably-sourced Western Red Cedar logs.

 

Known as the capital of the Scottish Highlands, the historic town of Inverness is an excellent base for exploring the lochs, glens and firths of the north of Scotland. Its name comes from the Gaelic ‘Inbhir Nis’ meaning ‘Mouth of the Ness’ – Inverness is where the River Ness flows into the sea from Loch Ness. A 20-minute drive to the south of the city, this famous loch is the legendary home of the Loch Ness Monster, otherwise known as Nessie.

Although hiring a car could be advantageous, many attractions are accessible from Inverness by coach or public bus. Energetic visitors may prefer to hire a bicycle and enjoy scenic cycling routes including the South Loch Ness Trail and the Great Glen Way. The region has other excellent sports facilities, including golf, canoeing and kayaking. The Highlands are also a bountiful natural larder, making this a great place to taste many typical Scottish fare.

TIME TO CHECK IN:
A Highland hideaway, Eagle Brae is home to seven luxurious, eco-friendly log cabins set amidst breathtaking scenery. Each cabin was hand-built in 2013 by master craftsmen using Western Red Cedar. The rustic-chic interiors feature Scottish motifs, hand-carved mezzanine balconies and wood-burners. The property is also a sustainable highland retreat, using a micro-hydro scheme to provide electricity and hot water. Additionally, each cabin comes with its own bio-mass boiler. Guests can offset their carbon footprint journeying here by planting a tree. Each cabin is unique and offers a cosy retreat though guests wanting to stay active can opt for the many activities offered on-site, including fly fishing lessons, sled-dog rides and a walk in Strathfarrar’s pinewood forest.

If you’re looking for a traditional coaching inn, nothing beats The Loch Ness Inn. Located in the village of Drumnadrochit close to Loch Ness and Urquart Castle, this traditional Scottish inn was built in 1838, has just 12 cosy minuscule but comfortable rooms fitted with homely details like tweed throws and local artwork.

 

DAY 1

9:30
Seek out a famous Scottish monster
The second largest and second deepest Scottish loch, Loch Ness, contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, but this vast stretch of water is best known for other reasons. Said to lurk beneath its dark surface is the world famous Loch Ness Monster, fondly known as Nessie. With sightings dating back to the 6th century AD, and a reported appearance on an Apple Maps satellite image in 2014, this elusive beast is synonymous with Scottish legend and folklore – as well as the subject of numerous hoaxes.

For an opportunity to make history by spotting the creature nicknamed ‘Nessie’, take a boat out onto the loch. Departing from Dochgarroch Lock to the south of Inverness, Jacobite operates four boats, including their flagship Jacobite Queen, a regal vessel built in 1949. Departing from Fort Augustus, Cruise Loch Ness offers leisurely scenic cruises as well as thrilling high-speed RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) trips.

11:30
Learn more about Nessie
Many combine a Loch Ness cruise with a visit to Urquhart Castle, the impressive ruins of a 13th century fortress on the loch’s shores. For those who’d rather discover more about Nessie, the nearby village of Drumnadrochit has two Nessie-related visitor attractions. Opened by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition probes the many myths and legends associated with the Loch Ness Monster. This award-winning attraction includes multi-media displays, historic research equipment, authentic underwater films, and details of hoaxes as well as the reliable eyewitness accounts of over 1,000 sightings. There’s also the family-oriented Nessieland.

13:00
Enjoy Highland fare with local provenance
Drumnadrochit is also home to the aforementioned Loch Ness Inn, a hospitable Victorian inn with guestrooms. Focusing on food with local provenance, menu highlights include fish landed at Mallaig on Scotland’s west coast, prawns delivered fresh from Applecross Bay, and beef and lamb from the Black Isle. Overlooking the village green, Fiddler’s is another recommended Highland restaurant with rooms.

14:30
Enjoy the view from a new castle attraction
Standing high above Inverness and the River Ness is Inverness Castle. The striking red brick castle dates from 1836, although a castle has occupied this high strategic site since the 11th century. A new viewing platform opened in 2017, transforming the North Tower, a former prison block, into a place where visitors can discover the castle’s history and enjoy far-reaching views.

17:30
Jump into a ceilidh – and don’t forget some haggis
Immerse yourself in Gaelic culture at a ceilidh, a traditionally Scottish social gathering involving folk music and dancing. Award-winning Hootananny’s lays claim to the longest running ceilidh in Scotland. Located in the heart of Inverness, it also welcomes Scottish and international bands playing rock, soul, blues and funk. Its popular restaurant serves classic Scottish fare, with hearty plates such as Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak, North Sea haddock and chips, and haggis, neeps and tatties.

 

DAY 2

10:00
Set foot on Britain’s last battlefield
To the east of Inverness is Culloden Moor, location of the last hand-to-hand battle ever fought on British soil. Son of the deposed King James II, Bonnie Prince Charlie is known as ‘the young pretender’ to the British throne. Being a Roman Catholic, he was disqualified from inheriting the throne under the 1701 Act of Settlement. In 1745 his supporters attempted and failed to overthrow protestant King George II, cumulating with the bloody Battle of Culloden. Part of the National Trust of Scotland, Culloden Battlefield remains very much as it would have been on that fateful day. A new visitor centre and interactive exhibition tells the story of why this battle lasted only one hour, yet impacted not only the Highlands, but also all of Britain.

11:30
Visit a mighty fortress
Following the defeat at Culloden of Bonnie Prince Charlie, King George II created the ultimate deterrent against future unrest: the mighty artillery fortifications of Fort George. One of Europe’s most outstanding fortifications, it has served Britain’s army for almost 250 years since, and still houses a British Army Infantry Battalion. Its ramparts, historic barrack rooms, garrison chapel, and dog cemetery where regimental mascots were buried, are maintained by Historic Scotland and offer a fascinating insight into 18th century military life. The fort is also home to the Highlanders Museum, Scotland’s largest regimental museum outside of Edinburgh.

Or, a less militaristic attraction is Cawdor Castle, a late 14th century castle with literary connections to William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Steeped in history, the castle and its spectacular landscaped grounds are open to the public throughout the summer.

13:30
Tuck into a fine Highland lunch
Back in Inverness, enjoy a gourmet lunch at Rocpool Restaurant. Located within a swish boutique hotel, its menu focuses on fine local flavours such as hand-dived west coast king scallops, fresh Isle of Skye crab, and butternut squash risotto with melting Highland brie.

16:00
See dolphins cavort in the Moray Firth
An inlet on the North Sea that stretches north from Inverness, the Moray Firth is considered one of the best places in Britain to observe dolphins. Sailing from Inverness Marina up to four times per day, Dolphin Spirit offers 90-minute wildlife cruises that enable the viewing of bottlenose dolphins as well as other marine life including whales, seals and otters.

 

HOW TO GET HERE:
Inverness is in the Scottish Highlands, 3 hours and 30 minutes north of Edinburgh and Glasgow by train. Inverness Airport has flights from British cities including London, Birmingham, Belfast and Manchester, as well as European cities including Amsterdam and Geneva.

 

Royal Brunei Airlines flies London daily via Dubai for connections to Inverness. Discover things to do in Inverness in www.muhibah.com.bn

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