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  • Anne B 10milesfrom

Scotland Part 5 The Black Isle!

I have been playing catch up with the blog, and have finally made it with this post!

Our last morning in the Cairngorms was supposed to be spent at the RSPB reserve at Loch Garten, seeing the Ospreys, but sadly they didn’t return this year, so we walked in the beautiful Anagach woods in Grantown instead.

A wonderful walk through mixed woodland, with lots of birds, and some very cute red squirrels!

Also, a man in a kilt walking his dog who was very proudly telling us how much he loved his forest!

Then we headed northeast, past Inverness, to the Black Isle, a promontory next to the Moray Firth. First stop, Udale Bay to look for birds with the interesting spectacle of huge oil rigs in the bay which had been towed in for maintenance.

Some of them are huge!

At the tip of the promontory is the charming town of Cromarty, which we loved.It had lovely views, cute cottages, and some interesting Georgian architecture.

Full of history, it contained some interesting museums. We visited the old East church, and then the Hugh Miller house and museum. He was a local lad who became a Geologist in the late 18th century, and who, throughout work with fossils, began looking at evolution.

He also spearheaded the split of the Scottish Free church from the Church of Scotland, but is relatively unknown. The Courtyard garden contained art inspired by his work.

We also found this interesting(?) mnemonic for remembering geological eras!

Then to our stop for the night, the super Camping and Caravan club site at Rosemarkie which runs along the back of the beach and has very friendly wardens! Before supper, we did a lovely 1 hour walk up the Fairy Glen in Rosemarkie to the 2 pretty waterfalls at the top.

Then supper in the van, listening to the wind increasing in intensity! This was important, because we had to go out again, so putting on all our warm layers and waterproofs we braved the elements. We walked for 20 minutes to Chanonry Point at the end of the promontory for a very special encounter.

Approximately 1 – 2 hours after low tide, at this time of year, the incoming tide brings shoals of salmon up the Firth, heading upstream to spawn. These pass close to the end of the point, and they are often pursued by hungry dolphins! We waited for about 40 minutes, and, were just about to give up, when, at 9.30pm, they arrived, and we spent another 30 minutes watching fins dashing back and forth in a frenzy of feeding. The pictures are poor because they were moving fast in fading light.

They gave the occasional leap in the air!

This blurry shot is here because it shows a huge salmon tossed in the air. What an encounter!

Next day was a lovely pause from travelling to meet up with our friend Diana, who moved up to this delightful area last year. We met her for coffee in the tiny, and much more delightful than it sounds, Slaughterhouse coffee shop back in Cromarty.

Then a visit to the old Court House Museum and jail, which had fascinating displays about the history of the town, including dark days of poverty when the fishing industry collapsed, and how the North Sea Oil business has helped transform it’s fortunes. Our catch up continued over lunch in the super Sutor Creek restaurant, where the Scottish mussels were superb!

Finally back to Rosemarkie to visit the Groam museum of Pictish stones. These are found locally, and date back to both pre and early Christian eras.

They are beautiful designs, sometimes very intricate. The museum is also dedicated to George Bain, an artist born in 1881 who was fascinated by Celtic art patterns, and wanted to demonstrate how they could be interpreted and used in contemporary ways.

His body of work is kept at the museum, along with examples of what he inspired across many mediums… even knitting patterns!

We said our goodbyes, and turned south, as this was our furthest point north on this trip. We crossed the Moray Firth again near Inverness, and turned east for our free Britstop…. The Connage Highland Cheese Dairy and Pantry… we were looking forward to the shop opening in the morning!!

#redsquirrel #backisle #chanonrypoint #groammuseum #slaughterhousecoffee #Scotland #hughMiller #grantownonspey #rosemarkie #sutorcreekcafe #connagehighlanddairy #fairyglen #cromarty

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