Sunday, June 03, 2012

My Inverness Break….. Part One

 If you want to read it all I suggest you make a beverage and find a choccy biscuit …or three.

Like most of us who holiday in the UK, and Scotland in particular, one needs to pack for every eventuality. Having had three weeks of continual rain I was just praying for a dry spell …and having had zero temperatures at night, I was hoping that the days ahead  would at least allow the wearing of a light jacket … but no one can predict the weather not even the weather men so I set off  toward the train with a bulging suit case filled to the brim with muli - layers and warm wraps for the evenings …. relieved that it was the first dry day.
 My journey did not run as smoothly as I had hoped, as my reserved seat was occupied  but not by me and the carriages were packed … as were the luggage racks. I did however manage… through loudly sighing and exclaiming ’I just do not believe this’… to get a surly attendant to show me to one of the few remaining seats …. but who also insisted I just left my case where it was …in the way of other travellers.

I finally reached my destination, having passed through the most gorgeous scenery along tracks that rose high into the hills of Avimore and were, due to the terrain, only finally laid in the late 1890’s.
 The Guest House was a welcome sight  to the weary traveller  …built in 1830 from stones once used in a previous building and long discarded …. it was recycling at its best.

My room over looked the River Ness, a fast flowing seven mile river, apparently plentiful in salmon…and it looked so picturesque at night.

On the first night I however discovered that I had developed an allergy to muscles which put a damper on my sea food linguine … but the strawberry and the pistachio homemade ice creams that I managed to eat before escaping with an embracing scarlet face and arms, were out of this world and  the high light of the meal.
Inverness has its history but it also has its restaurants …I am sure one could eat for a year and still not eat in the same place twice…. I was so spoilt for choice when it came to lunches and evening meals …but I could only manage one deluxe repast every day … and every meal had its food high light.

Now for a bit of history
Inverness …meaning Mouth of the River Ness …lies at the end of the Great Glen and was a strong hold for the Picts . It became a town in 585AD and borough in 1158AD…. and finally a city in 2000  It is thought that these original inhabitants were given the  nick name Picti by the Romans meaning Painted Ones. The Scoti were Irish tribes who invaded the west coast line and the name probably meant Raiders. In  565AD St Columba, a Gaelic Irish missionary monk, arrived  with 12 companions and he made his way to Inverness….stopping on the way to have a word with ‘Nessie‘, after an incident on the Loch. Interesting that she has never been truly witnessed since.
Over time the two, the Picts and the Scoti ,became the Scots but a divide remained between the Highlanders and the Lowlanders until recent year.

 The new day brought early morning sun …surprisingly warm …and a wonderful breakfast…after which I set off to  find the ‘hop on and off’ Tour  Bus. This is the ultimate way to see a new city when you are not the sprightliest or robust of walkers. The day just got warmer and warmer and I felt so good, After doing the whole trip I hopped off and on a couple of times including having a wander around the Victorian Market.

And a meal in ‘The Kitchen’…the highlight was a chicken breast on a bed of haggis

 The river is lined by religious buildings …the site of the Old High Church is St Michaels Mount and  is where St Columba is said to have preached. It has had a parish church on it since  12th century … the bell tower is 15th  and 17th. and the church itself was built in the 18th  century. After the Battle of Culloden Jacobite prisoners were held within its walls and it is said, some were executed in the graveyard.

 Close by is the church which sports the highest steeple in Inverness ….  the Free North Church …completed in 1892.

 And a little further along ….the Ness church built in 1901 … which now has the Three graces sitting by its side.These were originally on top of a building in the town centre and were sculpted in 1870....they were absent from Inverness for 50years….

 And we must not forget St Andrews Cathedral on the opposite bank …to name just a few.
More of this impressive building on the next post.

 Day two ...and it was an even hotter day .... was a wander around the shopping area …just to say I had done it …and to admire some of the architecture to be seen in the town centre … fabulous reminders of  the past.

The Town House … completed1882 …built  in the Victorian gothic style

And the Toll Booth ….but what is a toll booth?
 In Scotland it usually is a  jail house …here there was a courthouse too …. the spire was built on the jail and court house  in 1791. 
 Next was a trip to Holm Mill … a retail out let which held the largest selection of preserves, chutney oatcakes and short bread …not to mention fudges and whiskeys …I had ever seen under one roof. I could have bought armfuls but I had to remind myself that I had to get it home.  Originally there were mills here but now there is an exhibition, café and craft shop and one with woven items to buy.

I rounded the day off with a Scottish High Tea sitting in the Waterside restaurant  garden. …this is a main meal followed by a cream and jam scone and cakes, served with a pot of tea …eaten usually between 4 and 6. Having devoured this, I had to go for a wander to the Infirmary Suspension Foot Bridge built in 1881 …known as the bouncy bridge by the locals…. And yes it does bounce as you cross it …and makes you feel as though you have had one too many…not just one …and  it creaks too …so glad I was warned.

Hope you enjoyed this enough to pop by to read Day 3 and 4,  which will follow in a few days with photos of Loch Ness ...sorry no monster.
Take care xx


Carmen said...

Aw really loved reading this. We visited that centre with the craft shop and woolen place. You saw so much more though (mind you we were only there for an afternoon!) May have to do that bus trip next time!

famfa said...

Beautifully written. Sounds like a lovely day, look forward to reading the rest

Peter said...

What a wonderful trip to Inverness, we really enjoyed "sitting on your shoulder" as you wandered around the city. Sounds a great place to visit. Laura's father spent the latter part of his childhood in Inverness, so she appreciated your description and being able to see the photos. All those places to have a yummy meal make a trip to Inverness even more tempting!!

Arkansas Patti said...

Goodness, I had no idea Nessy was so old:))
Loved the trip with you via your great pictures. The architecture is just stunning and I am very interested in the unknown to me history.
Looking forward to future posts.

JoZart said...

Just had a quick blink of this lovely travelogue , you do them so well, but I'll be back in depth when I'm in Germany for a good read. It will be ideal as TV is rubbish there.
Love Jo x

JoZart said...

I too remember the King and Queen of tonga... it was raining too which they probably never had at home.
Jo x

Neet said...

How annoying that someone had taken your seat - guess in this day and age it is not always wise to insist they move. Sorry the standard of rail travel is not as good as in other countries - I always think of the train from my friends to Olvera Street in LA and how good the service is with attendants who are only too happy to please and sherrifs too.
Thanks for the tour - I look forward to the next instalment. Glad the weather took up for you.
Hugs, Neet

Helen said...

Grrrr about the train seat - surely they should have been the ones to move????
However, what a wonderful trip - look at those blue skies! I have loved seeing your photos.

May said...

Fabulous post looks a brillant place to vist... love the pics.. Hugs may x x x

Devon said...

The pictures you have taken look great. Lovely scenes. Sounds like you had a lovely day.

Devon x