Besides, Edinburgh, Inverness was the first city I had gone to visit since moving to Scotland. I was still learning the ropes on how best to travel, what to take with me, what to wear, and what to expect (another blog). It was after this trip that I decided it would be much better for me in the long run to rent a car rather than taking the train and buses.
In the early morning, I took the train by ScotRail out of Aberdeen and headed west. The train ride from Aberdeen to Inverness is about 2 hours and 20 minutes long and costs about 25 pounds sterling. Similarly, it takes about the same time by car and costs about that same amount to rent a car!
When I arrived in Inverness is was nearing half 10, and I knew the first thing I wanted to do was to explore the city. Covid restrictions in place, I kept my mask on at all times, even walking around town, and made sure to sanitize before entering and after leaving any building.
I had a small list of places I wanted to see. My first stop was Leakey’s Bookshop which is recommended to any bibliophile out there. It’s a second-hand bookstore filled to the brim with every genre you can imagine and more. A dream for all book lovers!
With Covid running rampant, I avoided the busy coffee shops and restaurants, and in turn, helped out my own wallet by packing a backpack with my lunch, some snacks and water.
Walking around Inverness is a treat in itself. Known as the Capital of the Highlands, it is a central hub for many travelers who come to Scotland. The 18th and 19th century architecture, the cathedral, the Old High Church, and the stunning red-sandstone Inverness Castle are all wonderful to gaze upon and enjoy. I took a walk across one of the bridges that cross the River Ness just where it meets the Moray Frith (an inlet of the North Sea).
You can’t go to Scotland without visiting a cemetery… or 100. They are everywhere and they are rather pleasant to traverse though. It’s not unusual then that I found myself enjoying the views of the Tomnahurich Cemetery Hill. It’s a wonderful place for a stroll, including sculptured monuments, woodlands, and benches situated at the top where you can rest and get sweeping views of the city below.
The next things for me to do, and you might have already guessed it, was to find a place to go hiking. With Covid-19 restrictions, and trying to stay safe, I skipped most of the cities common attractions and stuck to the outdoors.
Wandering by foot, I was limited in where I could go. After enjoying a city stroll, I made my way up the river to the Ness Islands which have several walking trails you can take. Not super impressed and looking for more, I wondered further north.
Making the 45 minute walk to Craig Phadrig which lies on the western side of Inverness. I followed my GPS to the start of the trail.
It was a great trail leading up to the summit of a hill that overlooks Bealy Firth and the River Ness. Sitting at the top, I retrieved some food for a late lunch and sat to eat looking out at the beauty around me in absolute awe of my current place in the world. I find it absolutely necessary sometimes to just sit and be present, focusing on gratitude.
From my quiet spot on the hill, I didn’t quite know where to go next, and almost by accident, I found myself brambling through the trees for almost a whole extra hour and coming out at the Mekinch Local Nature Reserve where I was able to take a beautiful walk alongside the Beauly Firth just as the sun was starting to make its final decent. I made my way into a hotel for the night just as the evening sky was getting to dark to see.
These sorts of adventures aren’t for everyone, but if you don’t mind traveling solo and just winging it from time to time, I really do recommend throwing a bit of caution to the wind. It can be exhilarating and fun as long as you keep a positive attitude and grateful heart.
Still wisening up to the best ways to travel, what to take, and where to stay, I stayed at the Premier Inn where I was able to get a quiet table for dinner at the restaurant alongside it.
Needless to say, I was completely exhausted after a long day on my feet. The next day was going to be another long day of hiking around Loch Ness. It didn’t take me long to pass out grateful for a shower and a warm bed.