A bustling fusion of hilltop castle, cathedral spires, cosmopolitan dining and eclectic shopping, Inverness is a thriving, vibrant city which is easy to explore on foot in a day and the ideal base for discovering the Highlands.
Buzz Trips Opinion
Stunningly located at the mouth of the Great Glen, on the banks of the River Ness and flanked by the Moray Firth, Inverness has a big city feel in a compact space. 21st century architecture housing elegant restaurants with contemporary menus sit cheek by jowl with highland dress shops and Gothic church portals. Throw riverside walks, a thriving shopping centre and a Victorian market into the mix and you’ve got a city that caters for traditionalists and modernists of all ages.
Drawn inexorably towards the beauty of the River Ness which intersects the city and the suspension bridges that cross it, like most visitors, I headed first to Inverness Castle which stands proud on its hill top vantage point overlooking the city and river. Not open to the public as it’s the Sheriff court, the castle at close quarters is disappointing and its crenelated walls are better viewed from below, but the climb is worth it for the views.
Taking the riverside walk past The Columba Hotel, I arrived at the pink sandstone, Gothic West Door of the Cathedral Church of St Andrews. The stunning architecture of the exterior and grand door seemed somehow to fail to fulfil their promise and I realised it was because there are no spires, the diocese running out of funds before the architect’s design could be completed.
Crossing the River Ness are several splendid suspension bridges one of which, the Greig Street Bridge undulates to such a degree when more than a couple of people are on it that you step off it with jellied legs, feeling like you’ve been at sea. After bouncing my way across it I continued to bounce on solid ground, exploring the old headstones of St Stephen’s cemetery before continuing to the Victorian Market.
The sounds of a pipe band emanated from behind the staff door of one of the stalls as I wandered around the jewellery and souvenir shops and the tea rooms beneath the trellised arches before emerging into the streets of the old town and the more modern face of high street chains.
Back across the bouncy bridge again, I passed the Gothic frontage of St Mary’s Church and a few steps further to the contemporary and architecturally stunning ‘The Kitchen’ with its glass frontage, its wooden wave roof and its river views. Vowing to return another time to try their set menu, I made my way back to the riverside and castle views of McNab’s for lunch.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+