History and nature in Inverness and Loch Ness
The loch just has to be experienced from the water and Jacobite Cruises has been sailing for years. They’ve even played their part in the monster mystery providing new “evidence” in unexplained radar readings...
You can hop off your Jacobite boat at Urquhart Castle, spectacularly positioned overlooking the loch and fascinating to explore. Drop into the nearby town of Drumnadrochit (5min drive or bus). This is the centre of Nessie land, and you can’t miss a visit to the quirky Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, complete with an extensive Nessie gift shop for those essential souvenirs.
Just on the outskirts of Drumnadrochit is the Loch Ness Inn, a cosy old pub with a high-class restaurant serving up such locally sourced delights as Applecross Bay Prawns and the unusual Haggis Bobotie. After dinner, why not pull up a stool in the cosy bar for a nightcap or two of whisky.
Base yourself for this itinerary at one of these options.
In Inverness: The 3-star Best Western Inverness Palace Hotel, which dates back to the 1890s is smart and contemporary, and facilities include a leisure club with spa and indoor swimming pool.
Around Loch Ness: If you prefer to be in the hills, Eagle Brae Lodges are luxurious, eco-friendly log cabins. Each cabin was hand-built and the rustic-chic interiors feature Scottish motifs, hand-carved mezzanine balconies and wood-burners.
Pay a visit to fairytale Cawdor Castle near Inverness, which is still lived in – by the Dowager Countess Cawdor – and retains a homely air. Duck through low doorways, brush past ancient tapestries and climb turnpike staircases. The gardens are outstanding, too – look out for the rare blue poppy that can only thrive in this area of Britain.
On the way back from Cawdor to Inverness, stop at Culloden Battlefield. The engrossing visitor centre leads you through the build-up to the momentous battle before you step out into the sensitively conserved battlefield itself. You will leave with a real sense of the Highlands heritage.
Michelin chef Albert Roux’s restaurant Chez Roux at the 5-star Rocpool Reserve Hotel, serves an a la carte menu that uses local Scottish produce wherever possible.
Get those hiking boots on and stride out on any number of walking trails. The Great Glen Way is the most famous in the area – covering a total of 79 miles (127km) from coast to coast across the Highlands. You can pick it up from Inverness and sample a few miles of it if you don’t fancy doing the full stretch!
Reward yourself for all that exercise with a visit to a Highlands whisky distillery. Glen Ord Distillery in the attractive village of Beauly (20min drive or train from Inverness). See behind-the-scenes of the making of the great Scottish whisky, then sample some for yourself.
Head back to Inverness and experience more of its top-class restaurants and characterful pubs. Hootananny’s is known for its live music and a great place to share songs and tales of the Highlands with the locals.
Enjoy dinner amid the 18th-century elegance and good old-fashioned Highlands hospitality of Inverness’s long-established Kingsmills Hotel restaurant.