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Travel Tips for a Perfect Stay

Top Tips for your Scottish Adventure

Eilean Donan Castle

Of course every good guide book has a section dedicated to useful hints and travel tips, and we are sure that they have plenty of advice about all sorts of things to help you during your stay. However, we have found that they usually miss out some of the most useful information that you really need to know. So, in an attempt to fill in some of the gaps, here are a few tips based on the experience with our guests at Inverglen Guest House. We hope this will help you during your travels in Scotland. If you think there are other things we should include in this guide then please let us know.

Travelling Around Scotland

If you are spending most of your time visiting the large cities or towns then it is perfectly possible to do so by public transport. Good links exist between major cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, and once there you will also find that getting around the city by public transport or taxi is relatively easy. However, if you intend to explore our wonderful countryside then you will either need a car or the services of a specialist tour provider.

Many people are worried about driving on the “wrong”  side of the road, but be assured that it is simple and you’ll be fine as long as you take it carefully. We only have 5 million people living in the country so away from the major cities you will rarely be in heavy traffic.

Day tours to Skye with WOW Scotland
Day tours to Skye with WOW Scotland

Don’t despair if the thought of driving is a little too much for you. There are many specialist tour operators who will gladly take you to all manner of places. These tours can range from pre-determined schedules right through to fully bespoke tours designed specifically for you. Why not check out some of our local operators on our website – http://www.inverglenguesthouse.co.uk/boat-trips-and-tours

Just a word of caution if you intend sampling some of our fine whisky or delicious beers – Scotland has strict drink drive laws and the legal limit is just 50mg in every 100ml of blood. This means even 1 drink can put you over the limit. Our advice is do not drink at all if you are driving.

A Sat Nav / GPS or Paper Map

So you decided to go with the car option. The first thing you may notice is that Scotland is bigger than most people realise, and many places are remote and sparsely populated. Consequently it isn’t always possible to stop and ask someone for directions, and road signs may be in short supply. Luckily modern technology in the form of a Sat Nav or GPS can pinpoint your position to within a few meters, and keep you on the right track. However, they aren’t foolproof and you should treat their advice with a degree of caution. Also be aware that if your system works via the mobile phone network, you may find that some areas have less than perfect coverage.

In the UK we use Postcodes (see tip below) to pinpoint locations, and in main towns a postcode will often be all you need for the Sat Nav. However, outside of the main population areas, you may find that the postal code is a little vague (possibly covering a large area rather than an exact location). Therefore always enter the full address if possible. We certainly recommend a Sat Nav or GPS for getting you from A to B, but you can’t beat a good old fashioned paper road map for giving you the bigger picture.

If you only focus on the route from one place to another, you may well be missing some fantastic places that lie just a few miles off the direct route. If you would like some inspiration on places to visit why not take a look at our Things to Do Pages.

The locations pictured below are hidden gems that are so easily missed if you stick to just the main routes.

Bow Fiddle Rock
Bow Fiddle Rock
Buachaille Etive Mor
Buachaille Etive Mor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is a Post Code

If you are using a Sat Nav or GPS then you are going to become very familiar with postcodes as they are an integral part of finding a specific location. Every address in the UK has a Post Code.  These are specific to a small number of addresses and within large cities a full postcode will cover a relatively small area (just a few properties).  

Postcodes comprise a combination of letters and numbers – for example our postcode is IV2 3NW. The first part of the code “IV2” tells you two things. Firstly the IV letters refer to Inverness (as EH would be Edinburgh, and GA refers to Glasgow). The number then gives an indication of how close an address is to the main city. So, IV1 would be right in the very centre of Inverness, whereas IV2 is just a little further out. At the extreme end, for example, Portree on the Isle of Skye (over 100 road miles from Inverness) is IV51.

Whilst in most towns and cities a full postcode (comprising between 5 and 8 characters) will give you a very specific geographic location, in rural areas a single postcode may cover a much larger geographical area.

Route Planning

When planning your trips it is often advisable to consult with one of the online route planning services. Google maps is definitely worth looking at, as are the services provides by The AA and The RAC. Distances and journey times can be difficult to predict, especially in the more remote locations where roads may be single track requiring you to stop at regular intervals to allow vehicles coming in the opposite direction to pass.

Whilst the online resources attempt to give you an idea of how long a journey may take, the reality may prove a little different. Always expect the journey to take longer than you are told, and if it turns out to be quicker you have more time to enjoy being there.

Negotiating Roundabouts

For those not used to driving in the UK a roundabout can be very daunting. We have spent many a morning after breakfast trying to explain how they work. The basic rule is that you always stop before entering a roundabout and you always give way to traffic coming from your right. If in doubt wait until there is a good gap before entering the roundabout and always give a clear indication of where you intend to exit. If you spot your exit late, don’t try to turn off quickly, just go around again and get it at the second (or third) attempt.

If you want to get properly ready to drive in the UK you can familiarise yourself with the rules for driving by checking out the Highway Code

Have a Mobile Phone

In all but the remotest locations Scotland has good mobile phone coverage, and as public telephone kiosks are become rarer you will be grateful for the convenience. We recommend you bring your mobile/cell phone with you, or you can buy one when you are here – a basic pay as you go phone can be purchased for around £25.00  (or even less) and many shops sell “top up” vouchers for calls.

Pre-book the things on your ‘Must See’ List

Shinty MatchScotland in the height of summer can be incredibly busy. Major events like the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival and T in the Park, to name but a few, need to be booked well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Also don’t risk just turning up at the ferry port hoping to catch a ferry to one of our many islands as you may be disappointed! You should also think about pre-booking for key visitor attractions such as Edinburgh or Stirling Castles, or if you want to enjoy the 3D and interactive elements at the Battle of Bannockburn site. At the very least pre-booking can save you a lot of time otherwise spent waiting in line.

In Inverness it may be advisable to pre-book if you wish to take the popular train journey to Kyle of Lochalsh, or for a cruise on Loch Ness.

Why not check out some of the main events happening in and around Inverness and Loch Ness on our Events Page.

Highland Piper
Highland Piper
Highland Dancing
Highland Dancing Competition
Highland Games Event
Highland Games

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restaurants and food

The White House
The White House
Rocpool Restaurant
Rocpool Restaurant
Heathmount
Heathmount

In the major cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen you will find that there are many restaurants of all types that open all day and will continue late into the evening. However, in other places the choice of restaurants may be very limited and they are likely to stop serving at 9pm (or earlier).

If visiting Scotland in the winter months do check with your accommodation provider to see what the local restaurant situation is like. In some places you may have a very limited choice.

Inverness has a wide selection of excellent restaurants (check out our recommendations page – http://www.inverglenguesthouse.co.uk/local-restaurants-cafes-and-pubs ) but many of these stop serving at about 9pm. You will also find that some are closed on a Sunday and Monday. From about May through to October the most popular restaurants are very busy and reservations are essential.

Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015

Scotland has a truly wonderful larder of produce and you can be assured of some fantastic food and drink on your travels. Almost everyone knows about haggis (try it and you may be pleasantly surprised), and our salmon is world famous, but why not try Cullen Skink (a smoked fish chowder), Cranachan (a desert of oatmeal, raspberries, cream and whisky), or Crowdie (a delicious cream cheese). We have a fantastic range of  food and drink and we love helping you discover new things to delight your taste buds.

 

Check Opening Times

We may enjoy long summer evenings (it stays light up until almost midnight in the far north at the end of June), but many attractions still close at around 5pm. This comes as a surprise to many and means that they miss out seeing some of the best places. The long daylight hours can fool you into thinking it is earlier than it really is so keep an eye on your watch. Always check the opening times for key attractions you wish to visit.

Also check for seasonal opening variations. Some attractions may be closed over the winter months, and indeed one of the best castles near Inverness (Cawdor Castle) doesn’t open until May.

Visiting a Distillery

Scotland is world famous for its Whisky, and there are many distilleries you can visit to learn about the production process and also sample some of the produce. Not all distilleries offer tours, but many do and if this is something you wish to do then you will find plenty of choice within easy reach of Inverness. Whilst there are no distilleries within Inverness itself, within 25 miles there are 4 distilleries (Glen Ord, Tomatin, Dalmore and Benromach) all offering tours. If you are travelling north of Inverness, you may wish to check out Glenmorangie distillery in Tain, or just a little further north is Balblair distillery.

If you are looking for more choice then the epicentre of the Speyside whisky industry is around Dufftown which is just over 50 miles from Inverness and here you will find plenty of distilleries, large and small, all waiting to impress you with their amber nectar.During the summer months most distilleries are open from Monday to Saturday (many also open on Sunday). The first tours are usually around 10am with the last tours at around 4pm. Outside of Summer you may find much more restricted opening times, and many do not open at weekends.

Please remember that Scotland has strict drink drive laws and we recommend that you do not combine the two. There are many companies offering Whisky Tours so you can fully enjoy the experience without having to do the driving.

Seeing Dolphins, Red Deer, Red Squirrels & Other Wildlife

Moray Firth DolphinScotland is a haven for wildlife and there are several species that should be on the must see list. Scotland’s big 5 are, Golden Eagles, Red Squirrels, Red Deer, Otters and Harbour seals, all of which can be found in the Highlands.

Near Inverness on the Moray Firth we have a resident population of Bottlenose dolphins. These dolphins regularly appear near the city and land based dolphin watching at Chanonry Point is a popular pastime. The best chance of seeing the dolphins is on a turning tide as it moves from low tide. Just ask us and we’ll let you know the tide times.

Another popular species that can be seen in Scotland is the Osprey. This magnificent bird is a summer visitor to the UK and they can be regularly seen fishing in the local area. There is a specialist viewing point at Loch Garten where Ospreys can be seen nesting.

Of course there are lots of other animals for you to enjoy such as Red Kites, Basking Sharks, Pine Martins, Grouse, Scottish Wildcats (rarely seen), Roe and Sika Deer, Mountain Hares and many others. If visiting Loch Ness you may even be lucky enough to see our very own Nessie!

Live Music

Scotland has a rich tradition of music and you are never too far away from the skirl of the bagpipes. However, we have much more to offer and in Inverness there is a wide variety of live music with performances taking place on every night of the week.

Regular folk sessions take place at several pubs in the town centre and music is often a main attraction at Eden Court Theatre and The Ironworks.

How many photographs will I take?

Guest often ask us where they can buy additional memory cards for their cameras. We can only conclude that people under-estimate how many pictures they will take. Our advice is that you should plan on taking at least twice as many memory cards as you normally expect to need. Cards are fairly cheap these days but it is better to have spare capacity rather than run out of room just as the most spectacular scene opens up before you.

For inspiration on places to visit why not check out our webpage showcasing some of our wonderful wildlife and scenery. http://www.inverglenguesthouse.co.uk/highland-scenery

Favourite Photo Locations

As you may know, we also run photography workshops (single and multi day trips), and on our photography website we have started a blog giving details of our favourite photo locations. Why not visit our blog for a little inspiration as we add more locations – Inverglen Photography Blog

Enjoy every day! – This is our best piece of advice.
With so many things to see and do an early start and a well-planned route will ensure you have treasured memories and spectacular photographs!

We want all our guests to get the most out of their visit to Scotland. We really enjoy helping you  plan your day so just ask if there is anything you want to know.

Inverglen Guest House is the ideal base from which to explore the highlands of Scotland.
We look forward to welcoming you to our home, where we hope you will also feel like it is your home as well.

Visiting the Scottish Highlands & Islands – To tour or not to tour

The highlands & islands of Scotland covers a vast area of over 30,000 square kilometers for the mainland area alone before including the many fantastic islands. Compare this to the size of The Lake District at just over 2,000 square kilometers, and you start to see the challenges posed.

If you want to enjoy this area you have several choices available.

Touring
If time permits, you can certainly do the grand tour and this can be highly rewarding. One of the best touring routes is The North Coast 500 – a spectacular journey of over 500 miles taking in some of the UK’s most spectacular coastline.

Durness Beach
Durness Beach – Just one of many on the NC500

Most people chose to start and end their tour in Inverness, with other popular stopping points being Applecross, Ullapool, Durness, John O’Groats and Dornoch.

This is indeed a most special journey, and one that is best experienced over at least 5 or 6 days (although many people will wish for longer). This route has so much to see and do that it deserves more than a brief mention, so expect to see a more detailed blog (or blogs) giving more detailed information on some of the highlights.

In the meantime to help plan your trip around the North Coast 500 NC500 is the place to start with full details of the route and what you will find along the way.

Touring is a great way to see a large part of the highlands, but it does require careful planning and a confidence to drive on some fairly challenging roads. Remember that the far north of mainland scotland is sparsely populated and in the height of summer accommodation can be hard to find. Also remember that the weather can be variable so pack for all eventualities.

One or Two Main Locations

If the thought of packing your bags and moving on every day doesn’t appeal, then maybe you would prefer to concentrate on visiting just one or two particular areas. This allows for a more relaxed pace and you only have to worry about finding one or two places to stay. Driving can be kept down a little (although you may opt for some longer day trips), and you will get to know the local area, well, like a local. The biggest difficulty you will have is deciding which location to pick from the many on offer.

Popular locations for more in depth exploration include The Isle of Skye, Lewis and Harris, The Orkney Islands, Fort William & Glencoe, and of course Inverness and Loch Ness.

Now, it is possible that we are a little biased, but Inverness makes a great central base from which to explore the main highland areas, all without having to keep packing and moving on. Of course Inverness is right on the doorstep of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, but it is also close to other fantastic attractions like Culloden Battlefield, Cawdor Castle, Brodie Castle and Fort George. Within a short drive you can reach other key attractions including many distilleries such as Benromach, Glen Ord, Glenmorangie, and Dalmore, the fantastic Cairngorm National Park, and the imposing Dunrobin Castle. In little over an hour you can be on the west coast at Ullapool or even Eilean Donan Castle and The Isle of Skye.

Wherever you choose to stay, you’ll be assured of a warm Scottish welcome – “Ceud Mile Failte” (a hundred thousand welcomes)

For some inspiration here is a selection of images from some of the best locations in the highlands and islands:

 

Favourite Locations – Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan – The Classic Scottish Castle

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

The chances are that Eilean Donan castle will be a familiar sight to you even if you have never visited. It has been the backdrop to many films (perhaps the most famous being “Highlander” starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. It was also used in The James Bond Film “The World is not Enough” and more recently in “Maid of Honour”).

The castle occupies a glorious location on the western coast of the Scottish highlands where it sits on a tidal Island where three lochs meet –  Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh.

The Castle History

Eilean Donan means the island of Donan, Eilean being the Gaelic word for island. Bishop Donan was the first known settler on the island setting up a religious cell sometime during the 7th century. However, the first castle wasn’t built until sometime later in the 13th century. The original structure was a protection against the Vikings who settled, raided and controlled much of the area.

Over the years the castle evolved, expanding and contracting at various times. In 1719 the castle was to suffer a terrible blow. At this time the castle was occupied by 46 Spanish soldiers who were The Bridge to Eilean Donan Castlesupporting the Jacobite uprising. This unrest led the Royal Navy to send ships to the area. Early on the morning of Sunday 10 May, HMS Worcester, HMS Flamborough and HMS Enterprise, anchored off Eilean Donan. When a boat was sent ashore under a flag of truce, it was fired upon from the castle. The boat was recalled and all three ships opened fire on the castle in a bombardment that lasted over an hour. The next day a further cascade reigned down on the castle while a landing party was prepared. That evening, under the cover of an intense volley or fire, a detachment went ashore and captured the castle against little resistance. The naval force spent the next two days using 27 barrels of gunpowder (which was part of a magazine of 343 barrels stored at the castle) to demolish the castle.

Following the demolition of the castle it laid virtually untouched for almost 200 years. In 1911 Lt Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap bought the island, and along with his Clerk of Works, Farquar Macrae, he spent the next 20 years reconstructing and restoring the castle to her former glory. The castle was rebuilt according to the surviving ground plan of earlier phases and was formally completed in the July of 1932.

Visiting the Castle

Eilean Donan CastleThe Castle itself is open most of the year with a short closed period during January. Opening times are from 10am – 6pm from April through to late October, with an earlier 9am opening in July and August. Over the winter months the castle is open from 10am – 4pm.

The castle is a photographer’s delight and it enjoys a great position with good light all year round. The best time of year for sunrise and sunset shots is from March through to mid May, then again from late August through to mid October. Generally speaking the best light for pictures from in front of the castle (and from its southern side) is earlier in the day (up to lunch time), whilst pictures from the north west side tend to be better later in the day.

Although the castle itself has restricted opening times, you can access the car park at any time (including January when the castle is completely closed). The most popular spots for photographing the castle are just a few steps from the car park (which is free of charge). However, do take time to explore right along the shore as quite different images can be obtained within a relatively short distance.Eilean Donan Castle

The other key factor is the tide. At low tide there is little or no water in front of the castle (see the image at the top of this page). Personally I don’t mind this, but it has to be said that a reflection does add to the final image, so you may want to aim for a time when the tide is near its maximum height.

Eilean Donan Castle
Afternoon light on the castle

If visiting later in the afternoon, you may find that the best pictures are taken from the north/north west side of the castle. If travelling from the south on the A87 (from Glen Shiel direction) then you want to drive past the castle and cross the bridge heading towards Kyle of Lochalsh. Immediately you have crossed the bridge turn left into the parking spaces (outside the “All the Goodness” cafe).

There are a variety of vantage points along the coast at this point just a few paces from your parking spot. If you are lucky you may also see a small fishing boat heading towards the small jetty to unload the catch.

The photo opportunities continue past sunset as the castle is lit up at night. You can get some great images during the “blue hour” (the period of twilight at dawn and dusk when the sun is well below the horizon, but still provides residual, indirect sunlight which takes on a predominantly blue hue). You can also wait a little longer until darkness properly falls when a fantastic display of stars can be seen with little light pollution.

Eilean Donan Castle
Blue hour at Eilean Donan

Other Locations Nearby

There are a rich variety of other locations near to Eilean Donan castle that will vie for your attention. We particularly recommend Glen Shiel for its mountains, rivers and waterfalls, the viewpoint at Mam Ratagan affords splendid views of The Five Sisters of Kintail, and Plockton with its idyllic bay.  You are also but a stone’s throw from the Isle of Skye with its many wonderful locations.

If this short introduction to Eilean Donan castle has inspired you to see this magical location for yourself, why not take one of our one day or multi-day photo workshops – check availability here.

Luxury New Superking Room

A Little Luxury to Enjoy

At Inverglen Guest House we are always looking at ways we can improve the guest experience. This year has seen us give our superking room a makeover including:

  • a complete re-fit of the bathroom to make it larger with a bigger high powered shower and all new fittings,
  • complete redecoration of the room,
  • new larger television with built in dvd,
  • the provision of more power outlets for all your devices,
  • new bedside lighting,
  • new full length mirror

Aviemore Sled Dog Rally

 

Britain’s Biggest Sled Dog Rally

_MG_2775

Late January is when The Aviemore Sled Dog Rally takes place. This is not only Britain’s largest sled dog race, but definitely one of the Winter’s highlights in the Scottish Highlands.

The Rally is run by the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain, and sees about 200 teams (and over 1,00 sled dogs) race along trails in the Glenmore Forest beside Loch Morlich in the scenic Cairngorms.

Whilst snow is always hoped for, the weather in the UK doesn’t always cooperate (even in the Cairngorms), so when the snow isn’t sufficient racers use dry-land rigs – which are like tricycles where the musher stands rather than sits. This also means races are faster than when on snow.

Whether the race is run on snow or on dry-land rigs, this is a fantastic spectator event. You can get close to the action at many spots along the course. There are various classes of races with teams ranging from 2 dog sleds, right up to 6 or more dogs. Huskies are most often used, but other breeds an also participate in various classes.

Aviemore is just a short drive from Inverness and this event is highly recommended.

 

_MG_2812 _MG_2794 _MG_2789 _MG_2787

 

Ormond Castle Walk – Avoch, The Black Isle

Ormond Castle, Avoch

View from Ormond Castle
View from Ormond Castle

This is a lovely, short, circular walk from the little fishing village of Avoch (pronounced Ock) on the Black Isle. To attempt this walk you will need to be reasonably fit and steady on uneven ground, and you will need walking boots as part of the route is often muddy or wet underfoot.

Don’t expect to see a glorious castle or you will be disappointed! However, there is a memorial cairn at the top of the mound which marks the spot of Ormond Castle built by the De Moray family in the twelfth century, which was once the largest castle in the Highlands. The views across the Moray Firth and across the rolling hills of the Black Isle make this a really worthwhile effort on a clear day (as can be seen from the image above).

How to get there

From Inverglen Guest House take the A9 North, and shortly after crossing the Kessock Bridge, take the right turn towards Munlochy and Black Isle attractions. Continue on the road, through Munlochy village (you will pass the Allangrange Arms in Munlochy – great pub food, so remember this for your journey back!) until you get to a T junction where you will turn right towards Avoch. As you approach Avoch take the right turn down towards the seafront (Long Road). When you get to the seafront at Avoch Bay, turn right again and continue to the end of the houses, where the road turns and starts to head uphill again. You should find parking spaces outside the houses.

Getting started

Starting Point
Starting Point

Start by walking up the hill on the minor road away from the bay between the national speed limit signs – don’t take the road off to the right which leads to a small group of houses. After a short walk up the hill you will see a wooden footpath sign for Ormond Castle & Avoch Circular walk. Turn left along the farm track towards Castleton Farm. As you approach the farm you will see 3 gates on the left. Take the middle gate which leads to a grassy (often muddy) path between the fields. The path is a gentle climb up around the castle mound.

As you get to the rear of the mound go through another gate, where there is a sign giving information about Ormond Castle, and follow the path that leads up to the top of the mound and the castle remains, cairn and flagpole. There are great views across the farmland, across to Avoch village and across the Moray Firth.

Ormond Castle Panorama
View over Avoch and the Black Isle

Return journey

Return to the entry gate at the bottom of the mound, and continue along the track to the right, into the forested area. Whilst the views of the Moray Firth are obscured by trees you will be entertained by the birdsong as you walk slowly downhill. As the main track leaves the wooded area, the path starts to slowly ascend and there are fields and a view of Munlochy bay on the left hand side. At the end of the track is a gate, where you turn right onto a tarmac lane. Continue until you get to a junction with a minor road, where you turn right again, and walk downhill until you return to your starting point.

Distance is approximately 3 miles or 4.7km, and the round walk will take between 1 – 1½ hours.

We enjoyed this walk in January, so bear that in mind when you look at the photos (below)!

Inverglen Shortlisted as Most Hospitable Guest House

Finalist 2015 HITA AwardsMost Hospitable Guest House

Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards 2015

Inverglen Guest House is delighted to be a finalist for the 2015 Highlands & Islands Tourism Award for most hospitable B&B/Guest House.

To be shortlisted for this award is a real honour as it recognises our aim of offeringg a truly warm, friendly and hospitable approach to providing accommodation to both leisure and business tourists. Along with our fellow nominees we seek to provide a really personal and memorable experience for every guest. We recognise the important role we can play, not only by providing excellent accommodation and an outstanding breakfast, but also through our willingness and ability to help you get the most out of your visit to the magnificent Scottish Highlands.

In the words to the organisers –

“This category celebrates B&Bs and Guest Houses that go the extra mile to demonstrate heart-warming levels of customer service to every guest who steps through the door”.

The awards dinner and unveiling of the winners takes place in November 2015. We wish all the finalists well and it is a great honour to be in the company of such wonderful businesses.

PS – Susan tells me a new posh frock will be needed for the awards dinner. I thought I would give my shoes a good polish.

A Brief Introduction to the Highland Games

Highland Games Pipers

A Brief Introduction to the Highland Games

Tossing the CaberWhen thinking of things that are typically Scottish you will probably be quick to mention Whisky, Bagpipes, Men in Kilts, Tartan and Shortbread, to name but a few, but one of the highlights of any summer is the traditional Highland Games.

Gatherings and Games take place all across Scotland (and not just in the Highlands) and are a real mixture of sporting endeavours, cultural events and community spirit. Typically they include a

Highland Games Event
Highland Games

range of track and field events similar to those at any athletics meeting, as well as piping and Highland dancing competitions, They may also include cycling races and even a tug of war

competition. However, the highlight often belongs to the ‘heavy events’ where the strongest men (and sometimes women) “The Heavies” compete in various trials of strength. The highlight is usually Tossing the Caber, but there are a many other disciplines that the Champion will have to excel at.

Highland Games are said to have originated in Ireland with events dating back to 2000 BC. When the Irish migrated across the water to Scotland in the fourth and fifth century so they brought the games with them.

These days games occur almost every week from May through to September, and some of the best athletes may compete at many gatherings during the season.

Tug of WarThe Braemar Gathering

One of the biggest and most important gatherings is held at Braemar every September. The Royal Family (whose Scottish Balmoral Estate is close by) regularly attend this gathering, thus boosting its prestige even further. The Braemar gathering includes contests of strength, jumping, running, throwing and riding and were introduced by Malcolm Canmore in 1040 as a means of selecting the best men for soldiers and couriers.

The Inverness Highland Games

Founded in 1822 the Inverness Highland Games is one of the most popular and spectacular gatherings in Scotland. The 2015 Inverness Highland Games looks set to be one of the most memorable ever seen in the Highlands. This year the gathering moves to a new venue in Bught Park (just a short stroll from the city centre) and is a highlight of our City’s exciting Gala weekend.

This year’s Games will feature everything that you would expect to see at at a traditional Highland Games plus you will be able to enjoy the the Forge Gym Strong

Sinclair Patience
Sinclair Patience

Woman event at our Games and another attempt at the legendary Stonemason’s Stone by our male heavies.

The 252 pound boulder over a 5 foot bar challenge was first attempted in 1822 and last year (2014) Sinclair Patience succeeded in launching it over the bar.

The Demise and Rebirth of the Highland Games

Whilst Highland Games have been around a long time, they did suffer a major setback due to the Act of Proscription in 1746. This followed following the battle of Culloden which saw the Jacobite uprising defeated.  The act outlawed Scottish dress, customs and gatherings and was in force for almost 40 years. Once the Act was repealed the Games started to reappear and in 1822 George IV visited Scotland which gave a further boost to the national identity and customs.

More than a Sporting Event

Highland PiperWhilst most people will immediately think of the traditional sporting events at a games, there is a strong connection with music and dance. At all major games you will find

Highland Dancing
Highland Dancing Competition

that piping and highland dancing are just as important as the sporting contests taking place.

In times of old the clan chieftains would pit their pipers against those of other clans in competitive events. The prestige that came from success was considerable and financially rewarding.

Whilst times may have changed, there is still a competitive element at many gatherings with pipers (both solo and in bands) competing against each other. The dancers are also no less competitive and rivalries can be intense.

Another aspect of a Highland Games and Gathering is the sheer spectacle of the occasion. Many games are held in spectacular locations with dramatic backdrops of towering mountains and shimmering lochs. The sound of massed pipes and drums is glorious and when combined with the full highland dress is a spectacle to stir the heart.

Where can you see a Highland Games?

There are many Highland Gatherings throughout the summer, with the main local games for 2015 being:

You can find a calendar of events at http://www.shga.co.uk/visitor-events.php

Highland Games across the world

Highland Games are not just confined to Scotland. Indeed, there has been a gathering in New York USA since 1836. In San Francisco, the Caledonian Club held its first Games in 1866 and boasts the oldest continuously running Games in the USA. In addition to the Games held in Scotland, there are many annual games and gatherings held across the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Find out about more Scottish Sporting Events on our Website

Inverglen – a tour of our garden (June 2015)

Inverglen Garden – June 2015

by Susan White

Neither John nor I are great gardeners, but we do enjoy having a go and getting our hands dirty. Many guests who visit Inverglen really enjoy and appreciate the mature shrubs that we have in the front garden that you can enjoy whilst you’re relaxing over your delicious home cooked breakfast.

We’re frequently asked “What’s the name of that shrub that’s flowering in the front garden?” and invariably I look it up in a book or on the internet, tell the guest, and then promptly forget again! So, I thought maybe a series of blog posts would help to cement the names in my memory, or at least give me a point of reference next time I’m asked the question!! It’s currently early summer in Inverness, and finally it does feel like summer so I’ll be going out in the garden shortly to shape some of the shrubs with a bit of gentle pruning. For any guests that are missing a potter in their own gardens I’m happy to share, and have spare gloves and secateurs for any willing volunteer!

CeanothusThe stunner in the garden at the moment is a flowering shrub with deep blue flowers, which is called Ceanothus – there are a number of different varieties available which flower at different times during the spring and summer months and grow to different heights, but all varieties have the same clusters of small blue flowers which are set against a dark green leaf. The shrub is sometimes known as Californian lilac, but the flowers are much smaller and darker blue than traditional lilac bushes and the leaves are quite different.

If you would like more information on cultivation and care of the ceanothus, check out the Royal Horticultural Society weblink attached here https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=354.

We really enjoy having flowers in the garden as it encourages the bees and butterflies and they need all the help they can get in such a cold climate! We also encourage our feathered friends into the garden by having a number of bird feeders, so next time I’ll write a blog post about one of the regular summer visitors to the garden, the goldfinches.

 

Inverglen Photography Workshops

Inverglen Photography Workshops

An Inverglen Photography Workshop is an ideal opportunity to experience the magnificent Scottish Highlands. From our base in Inverness, we are within easy reach of some of Scotland’s most wonderful scenery.

All workshops are fully escorted by experienced landscape photographers John Frid &/or Keith Wood, and with a maximum of 3 guests (or up to 6 guests on some workshops) you are assured of plenty of one-to-one advice, tuition and guidance. We do all the driving so you can just sit back and enjoy the views.

Our workshops are suitable for anyone who enjoys taking photographs, no matter whether you are a complete beginner, or an experienced enthusiast. Not only will you explore magnificent scenery, but you will meet like minded individuals who share your passion for photography.

An Inverglen Photography Workshop is about having fun. We encourage group interaction to talk about the days photography and everyone can participate in planning the daily schedules.

Workshop Duration

  • Most workshops are 4 nights (arriving Thursday), although we also run longer workshops from time to time.
  • Additional days can be added (subject to availability) before or after the workshop. These can be either on a bed and breakfast basis only, or they can also include photography field trips.

Sample Itinerary (Based on 4 Night Stay)

Our itinerary is flexible and tailored to the wishes of the group. This allows us to make decisions based on the prevailing weather conditions and helps ensure you get the best possible images.

The following is a sample itinerary only and the actual locations may vary. There are many photo opportunities within easy reach of Inverness and the actual itinerary will reflect the wishes of the group.

Day 1 – Thursday

  • Arrival from 9am – 6pm
  • 6pm – Introduction and briefing
  • 7:30pm – Evening Meal at Inverglen Guest House

Day 2 – Friday

  • After breakfast we head east to the Moray coast. We have a range of coastal locations to chose from including:
    • Findhorn
    • Hopeman
    • Lossiemouth
    • Spey Bay
    • Portgordon
    • Portknockie

All of these provide a different shooting challenge and should yield some excellent seascapes. There is also a possibility (tides permitting) to get close to seals.

  • You make your own arrangements for the evening meal at a local pub or restaurant in Inverness

Day 3 – Saturday

  • After breakfast we head north west to the Blackwater river at Little Garve. This great spot enjoys superb morning sunlight.
  • Heading further north we visit the scenic town of Ullapool where we’ll spend a little time to take in the photographic opportunities of the town and the splendid view down Loch Broom.
  • As we continue our journey northwards, the landscape includes classic mountain peaks rising from the moorland. At Inverpolly there are glacial lochs and iconic mountains like Cul Mor and Stac Pollaidh.
  • Further north we come to Loch Assynt and the 15th century Ardvreck Castle. Loch Assynt also provides a lovely waterfall opportunity.
  • Time permitting we’ll move onto photograph the area around Kylesku. This includes a lovely sweeping bridge across Loch Glendhu.
  • You make your own arrangements for the evening meal at a local pub or restaurant in Inverness

Day 4 – Sunday

  • After breakfast your field trip today is west to Glen Affric (often described as the most beautiful glen in Scotland). During late autumn, winter and spring the mountains are often snow-capped providing one of Scotland’s most iconic images.
  • After Glen Affric, if time permits, we visit Glen Cannich which is a truly remote location and can evoke a great sense of solitude.There are often Red Deer at this location.
  • Evening Meal at Inverglen Guest House

Day 5 – Monday

  • For those leaving us today we have a leisurely morning to discuss the various shoots and to review some of the images we have captured. Check out is at 2pm . If possible we will give you a lift to the airport – please note this may not be possible on all occasions.
  • For those staying on for an extra workshop day (or days) there are a variety of destinations to choose from including places such as:
    • Glencoe & Rannoch Moor
    • Eileen Donan Castle and Glenshiel[
    • The Cairngorm National Park
    • The Black Isle and Cromarty Firth
    • Dunrobin Castle and Loch Fleet