Sunday, April 07, 2019

2019 Holiday in Inverness: Days 7 - 8: Ness Islands Walk, Nairn, Findhorn Bakehouse, Cullen and Dunkeld

The Ness Islands Walk in Inverness was our morning dog walk. You can walk on either side of the River Ness and cross at the islands and over the bridges in the city centre to make a variable length of circular walk.

 Rob lurking suspiciously on a bridge to the Islands

Inverness Castle and the view towards the City Centre

 Brock and I and a carved wooden bench on one of the Ness Islands

Next, we drove East to the seaside town of Nairn. We gave Brock another long walk along the beach and up through the town, stopping to sit at an outside table of The Classroom Bistro for a coffee and cake.

The Bakehouse Cafe at Findhorn was our lunchtime venue (our third visit this holiday!). It was still warm enough for us to sit outside with Brock. I ate GF bread with halloumi and roasted vegetables; Rob had scrambled eggs on toast. The freshly baked bread is fabulous.

Further East, we came to the small fishing village of Cullen, home of the famous Cullen Skink soup (made from smoked haddock, onions and potatoes). We headed downhill to the harbour first.

Then we had a tasty rum and raisin, and coffee ice cream before exploring the three antique and bric a brac shops in the town. We saw some beautiful brass port holes, painted stained glass windows, vintage clothing, costume jewellery, books, and just about every other item you could wish for.

Saturday came round all too soon, and we were up at 7.00 am to give The Bothy a clean and vacuum, getting on the road for home just after 9.00 am.

We stopped off at Dunkeld once again and this time the lovely Kettles of Dunkeld cook shop in the town was open. I bought a silicone spatula, tiny whisk and two top notch dishcloths.

We had morning coffee and cake in the excellent The Scottish Deli. It is dog friendly, so Brock was able to accompany us and met a lively, 'free range' friend in there who was full of beans and trying to get him to play (without much success, since Brock was firmly on the lead!).

We arrived home at 2.00 pm and said hello to the Minnow Cat and Connie Chicken, who did not seem to have missed us at all, since our friends and neighbours Neil and Babette had looked after them so well.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

2019 Holiday in Inverness: Days 5 - 6: Dornoch Firth, Tain, The Black Isle, Rogie Falls and Ullapool

Wednesday began with a return visit to the beautiful beach at Dornoch for our morning walk. Brock met a little friend to chase around with. [Click on any photograph to see a larger version].

We took a scenic route around Dornoch Firth, stopping off at Bonar Bridge.

Tain was our next stop, for a quick look around the town, before having a delicious lunch in Greens Restaurant (mozzarella and sundried tomato salad for me; quiche and chips for Rob). Lovely interior, great food and friendly staff - highly recommended. The only improvement I could suggest, is having a dog friendly table or two!

Historic court building in Tain.

Interior of Greens.

We drove on to Cromarty on The Black Isle - a picturesque, 18th century town on the tip of the peninsula, with spectacular views including oil rigs being serviced or decommissioned, and the 'sutor' rocks guarding the entrance to Cromarty Firth.

South Sutor
View from the shore at Cromarty

There are lots of interesting independent shops and cafes to visit. We enjoyed looking around The Cromarty Pottery, and purchased a spoon rest with a fish and seaweed design, and a small, white spoon with a blue pattern on it, made by potter, Barbel Dister. Follow the link to see similar pieces on her website.

I finally bought some postcards and stamps on the way to Chanonry Point at Rosemarkie! They seem to be harder to find in these days of online sharing. Chanonry Point was looking very dramatic under cloudy skies, with a brisk wind, and choppy water on all three sides of the peninsula. It is sometimes possible to see dolphins from here, but I have visited four times and have yet to see them. 🐬

Distant view of Fort George

FRI PORSGRUNN This Cypriot cargo vessel is currently in the Baltic Sea, as I type. You can trace its whereabouts through the link above.

Here's Rob's photo of me taking the photo of the ship! I am standing on the point of Chanonry Point.

Chanonry Point lighthouse.

Dinner when we got home was a take away from The Curry Hoose in Culloden. There was a good selection of vegetables in the two curries we ordered. The pakora and rice were also good. Quite pricey, but there was enough food for two meals.

On Thursday, we set out towards Ullapool, stopping off at Rogie Falls for our morning walk. There are two short walks from the car park: (one more 'strenuous' as they put it on the sign post. We took that route to the falls to walk off our curry of the night before!). There was plenty of flow in the Black Water to make the waterfalls quite a torrent.

On the drive along the A835, we saw stunning views all the way along, including this one of Loch Droma.

 At Ullapool, we had a walk around the town before lunch in The Celidh Place. A very nice, dog friendly venue with a book shop attached. We managed to get the table next to the wood burning stove 🔥 I had a GF cheese and Waldorf salad open sandwich; Rob had a split pea burger and chips - both meals were very tasty.

There are lots of shops to investigate, and we bought a couple of cards in the community charity shop, a sweatshirt from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, and an ice cream to eat while admiring the view out to sea.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

2019 Holiday in Inverness: Days 3 and 4: Fort Augustus, Inverness, Dornoch and Helmsdale

We had a sustaining veggie cooked breakfast before setting off for Fort Augustus.

It was rather a disappointment when we arrived to find that the water had been drained from this area of the Caledonian Canal so that repairs could be carried out.

[Please click on any photo to see a larger version.]
We set off on a walk next to The Canal, but decided after a mile or two that it was a bit too dull to continue with, without the water and boats to look at.

We headed down to Loch Ness, which was more appealing, to see the 'tiny lighthouse', actually a shipping beacon.

Here is the view back up towards the locks.

There was not a lot of choice of restaurants and cafes open for lunch, and we decided that we would head back to Inverness. I always feel that Fort Augustus is a pretty village, but a bit too much of a tourist trap. However, on a previous visit, we hired a motor boat and ventured out on to Loch Ness, and that was quite exciting.

'Nourish' was our venue for lunch back in Inverness. It is a small organic, vegetarian restaurant, that offers a simple menu of soups, sandwiches and cakes, with a savoury 'plate of the day' (a white bean stew on the day we visited). We had cheese and chutney GF sandwich, or wrap, which came with a mixed leaf and sprouted bean side salad. Vegan options were also available. It was busy on the day we arrived and we had to share a large table with two ladies, and people later than us were turned away, so it might be best to book a table in advance at busy times.

The Town House in Inverness has just had a revamp.

I had a look round the T K Maxx in the city centre and managed to find a Benetton cagoule for £9.99, which I was very pleased with!

On the Tuesday, we decided to take a long drive north, up to Helmsdale, stopping off at Dornoch on the way.

The beach at Dornoch was Brock's morning walk...

Definitely one of our favourite places to visit in the region. Acres of clean sands, with a scattering of rocks and rock pools to investigate.

We walked back into the town for coffee and cakes at the dog-friendly Cocoa Mountain Cafe. It just serves drinks and cakes.

Dornoch is an attractive and unspoilt town, with interesting independent shops, hotels, cafes etc. The Jail in the town is now an upmarket shop, with units selling art, clothing, ornaments and souvenirs.

Timespan at Helmsdale was our next stop. It houses a museum, art gallery, gift shop, bakery, archive, and riverside cafe. Here are some of the things we saw there ...

The view from the cafe, where I had carrot and coconut soup, followed by a GF citrus polenta tray bake. Rob had a toasted cheese sandwich with bulgar wheat side salad.

The small museum has some charming exhibits, and rooms showing life in the past.

 A rag rug!

Typical general store.

Part of the current exhibition in the art gallery:

No Colour Bar: Highland Remix: Clearances to Colonialism 22 March to 9 June 2019
Another walk for Brock at The Mound at Loch Fleet, broke up the journey back to the holiday cottage. The huge causeway was designed by engineer Thomas Telford and was constructed during the years 1814 - 1816. The link above gives more information about the site.

After this long, but interesting day, we headed back to watch the semi final of The Great British Sewing Bee. Nail biting stuff! 😄


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