The new mercat cross for Inverness was designed by Gerald Laing and is made from sandstone with bronze castings. Featuring a falcon on each side, stooping to catch its prey, it is also topped by Scotland’s national animal; many visitors to Scotland, and quite a few Scots too, do not know that this is a unicorn.
With several different shows every year, two theatres, two cinema screens and various workshops, Eden Court is the pre-eminent arts venue in the north of Scotland. Recently refurbished and extended, many people travel to Inverness for the sole purpose of seeing one of the performances it hosts.
Eden Court Theatre, Bishop’s Road, Inverness, +44 1463 234234
This eerie and ancient Celtic tradition of hanging rags from trees continues in a few places around Inverness, such as near Culloden. However, the main place to see this is at Munlochy, just north of Inverness, where there are thousands of scraps of fabric decorating the trees.
This 15th-century castle was the home of the Thane of Cawdor, a title mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. With beautiful gardens and a rich history, it is a must-see for visitors to Inverness.
Cawdor Castle, Nairn, +44 1667 404401
Disestablished in 1634, the ruins of this 13th-century monastic settlement are still surprisingly extensive and definitely worth exploring. The monks were originally French, and gave Beauly its name, from ‘Beau Lieu,’ meaning ‘beautiful place’.
A sub-tropical wonderland in the north of Scotland, these gardens grow an astounding array of plants, from cacti to pitcher plants, with added fish ponds and even a waterfall. The sheltered outdoor garden is also colourful and an excellent place to walk around on a sunny day; sited between the Caledonian Canal and the River Ness, the opportunities to walk further are tempting.
Botanic Gardens, Bught Lane, Inverness, +44 1463 713553
Apart from the miles of sand, the challenging golf, the walks, the shops and the excellent places to eat, the beauty of this little seaside town is that it is only 15 minutes on the train from Inverness. The actress Tilda Swinton lives here, and with good reason; it’s a lovely corner of the world.
For visitors to Inverness who want to sample traditional Highland hospitality, drink, music and dance, this is perhaps the best option. On Fridays and Saturdays some of the tables are cleared to enable ceilidh dancing, bringing with it many smiles, laughter and a feeling of accomplishment when you remember the steps.
Hootananny, Church Street, Inverness, +44 1463 233651
The best way to see Inverness castle is to walk along the River Ness, which provides several perfect angles to take the best photos of the building. The river walk is a good opportunity to explore the heart of the city, walking along the banks as people have been doing since before St. Columba preached here, in 565AD.