Situated on the edge of Loch Ness, 21 miles south-west of Inverness, Urquhart Castle was once one of Scotland’s largest castles. Its ruins include a tower house with a fantastic view over the Great Glen. The castle dates back to between the 13th and 16th century, and it played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence (14th century), then became a royal castle and was raided by the MacDonald Earls of Ross, even after having changed hands. The castle was abandoned in the 17th Century; but now that its ruins are open to visitors, Urquhart Castle is one of the most visited castles in Scotland.
Drumnadrochit, Inverness, Inverness-shire +44 1456 450551
There are many cruise companies on Loch Ness to choose from to view the scenery and local wildlife from the water. One of the most highly rated is Cruise Loch Ness, who do a number of boat tours including a Loch Ness Monster hunting trip, daily relaxing cruises to enjoy scenic Loch Ness and evening cruises to soak up the beauty of the sunset. The company has been running for 45 years, and cruises are informative and informal.
Canal Side, Fort Augustus, Inverness-shire +44 1320 366277
The site of the final battle of the Jacobite Rising in 1746, the Culloden Battlefield provides a sombre and atmospheric experience. There is a visitor centre near the site of the battle, where visitors can arrange tours and read information about the battle. The battlefield has a 20 foot tall memorial cairn and headstones to mark the mass graves of fallen soldiers. Visitors can explore the battleground by way of paths and there is also a raised platform to view the battleground.
Culloden Moor, Inverness, Culloden +44 844 493 2159
Fort George is registered as a historic monument, as it was built in the 18th century to defend Inverness against naval attacks. From the fort ramparts, visitors can see local wildlife such as dolphins, Minky whales, killer whales and seals. The fort is a star design and to this day is virtually unaltered. Exhibits and facsimiles allow visitors to see how the Fort has been used during different periods. Far from being just an exhibit site, the fort still functions as a military barracks for the Royal Regiment of Scotland to this day.
Ardersier, Inverness +44 1667 460232
Dating back to the Bronze Age, this excavated passage grave, surrounded by a stone kerb and eleven standing stones, is a fascinating historical site. The cairn was built for collective burials by various groups in the area. The entrance to the tomb points south west, indicating that the builders believed in the migration of souls towards the stars. The bodies were prepared for burial, and fires were lit so the cairn functioned as a crematorium. It is remarkably well preserved.
Inverness, Highland +44 1667 460232
Scotland is the home of golf, having first been recorded in the 15th century. As a result there are a lot of fantastic golf courses across Scotland, and the Loch Ness area is absolutely no exception. Many golf resorts are public in Scotland, but some are semi-private or private and so more expensive to utilise. A little north of Loch Ness is Royal Dornoch, a semi-private golf course which was listed third in the top 18 golf courses in Scotland (out of 578 courses). Closer to Loch Ness, visitors can also find courses such as Castle Stuart Golf or Aigas Golf Course.
Royal Dornoch, Golf Rd, Dornoch +44 1862 810219
The place to go for all types of fun water sports, Explore Highland runs open canoeing, river kayaking, sea kayaking and white water rafting sessions for visitors on the Caledonian Canal. Boat rental is available, but there are also guided adventure holidays and paddling courses for less experienced individuals or groups. The instructors are very experienced and passionate, and will definitely make sure you have a fantastic time.
Clachnaharry Works Lock, Clachnaharry Rd, Inverness +44 1463 715929
A little known gem on the edge of Inverness, Merkinch Local Nature Reserve is an area full of wildlife including roe deer, owls, weasels, herons, cormorants, wading birds as well as kingfishers and the occasional Osprey. There are multiple habitats such as the Muirtown Pools, salt and fresh water marshes with reed beds, bog, scrub and wooded areas. The different natural habitats contribute to the great variety of wildlife to be found in the nature reserve. It is 54.7 hectares of land and also extends to where the River Ness runs into the sea.