As a child I loved Inverness! It meant the summer holiday had arrived. As a family, we travelled up on the overnight sleeper train from London with our VW Dormobile. On arrival, we drove straight from Inverness station to have breakfast overlooking Loch Ness always hoping that the Loch Ness monster might just pop into view!
This time I still came by train, because I love train travel, using the Virgin Trains East Coast service from York. This involves about 6 hours of travel time. However, the train is comfortable, the views are engaging, and I had brought a copy of Annie Novak’s, “The Rooftop Growing Guide” to read.
By the time I arrived, it was already dark. I enjoy arriving at a destination at night and then await the daylight discoveries of the following day. A large moon hung over Inverness castle, and the main bridge was illuminated in purple light. It all felt serene as I walked down through the town and over the bridge to my accommodation in Greig Street.
Inverness it turns out is a perfect destination to explore on foot. I had a few vague plans of where I might visit and soon discovered as I began my walk to a local nature reserve that there would be a natural ‘circularish’ route I could take that would link most of what I wanted to see.
I began by walking to Merkinch local nature reserve and on the way came across some local sculptures and some beautiful coastal scenery.
At the sign for the nature reserve, there was also another sign pointing towards the Caledonian Canal, so that was the way I headed, taking me along the coastline and alongside the nature reserve. Heading towards the fishing village of Clachnaharry you cross over the railway line before meeting the start of the Caledonian Canal.
The Caledonian Canal is 60 miles long and is perfect for walking, boating, canoeing, cycling or paddling. I walked the section from Clachnaharry road to Glenurquhart road where I left the canal to visit Inverness Botanic Gardens.
Inverness Botanic Gardens are small and full of delightful surprises. It was opened in 1993 and is a little oasis of peace and calm. Having walked for around 2 hours, it was the perfect place to just sit and be still enjoying the beauty of the surrounds. On site by chance, there were beautiful flower mandalas made by Therese Muscus – an unexpected delight. If you need some refreshment, then there is a cafe on site.
It takes about half an hour to walk back into Inverness centre from the Botanic Gardens via Ness Islands, and on arrival, I headed up Castle Street to check out the Castle Gallery. The gallery has two floors of arts and crafts and is well worth a visit. I picked out what I wanted to buy and then left to come back and collect my cards and kissing pot at the end of the day. I headed to The Mustard Seed for a late lunch, a restaurant that sources local food and has a changing weekly menu. I enjoyed the two-course meal and the ambience of the place. It was warm, relaxed and the staff were friendly. After lunch, I took a walk around the Victorian markets and then headed out to find some of the artists participating in the annual Inverness Street Festival. I was not disappointed and was crying with laughter at antics of Herbie Treehead.
I returned to my accommodation feeling nurtured by all that Inverness has to offer.
Top Tip: If you are visiting the Highlands then spend a day exploring Inverness City by foot before you head off into the Highlands. It is well worth a day of discovery.