A few days of mixed Inverness.

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September 10th 2017
Published: September 10th 2017
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A week in Inverness. Sounds like I've won fifth prize in the local primary school raffle! But no, Inverness is quite a delightful place despite the very Scottish weather. It has rained every day for the last week but it only lasts a few minutes (but then again so does the sunshine!) which means it really hasn't stopped us doing anything or we have been a little wet but never soaked. I've walked the streets following the Inverness Town Walk which was really informative and really quite interesting. The Sanderson 'free walking' tours had finished the previous week and that probably would have been my preferred option but me as a 'tour guide' is only scary to others! Things appear to be closing down quite quickly now that Summer (?) is officially over. It hasn't impacted on us really but we will have to be a bit careful as the hours become restricted and some things don't open 7 days a week as they do in peak times. We have an Airbnb unit here for a week. It is perfect for us. Despite being in an estate of 100’s of identical units it has everything we need and everything we want and it's close to the city and to big supermarkets and all the facilities we need. We've done the washing and slept really well (too well if you're Lee!) and it's proven to be an excellent option for us here. It has a surprisingly good view across the firth towards Inverness and really it ticks all the boxes for us.

I came across the pipe band in Inverness, really they are pretty difficult to miss and they were rather impressive. Even the locals stopped and tuned in (some were heard to say pity the band didn't tune up first!). They were obviously part of the Tattoo. The Tattoo is a big thing here and although not as big as the Edinburgh Tattoo it was very impressive. Big pipe bands, lots of displays, precision marching and drills and a big finale of mass pipe bands made the Tattoo a good night for us. It's held in an old fort (still in use so I suppose it's an old fort and a new fort) which is certainly a military stronghold to this day and it provides a stunning location for the event. The staging was set up around the military parade ground and even the weather did the right thing by us. The night finished with fireworks and we both think there's no such thing as bad fireworks but these were as good as we've seen anywhere.

Took Lee into Inverness for a gelati. Haven't been able to say that for a while and surprisingly the ice creams have been fairly ordinary despite the green grass and dairy cows all around. This gelati was made on the premise and pretty good. Had a bit of a shopping spree in Inverness itself. I found the MacFarlane (and all spellings of it) tartan and got a scarf for mum. I'm sure she'll like it but there are more than 5000 different tartans available here! There's even a MacFarlane hunting tartan which is distinctly different to the 'ordinary' tartan.

Just got the forecast for the next few days which isn't great news. I want to walk up Ben Macdui, the second highest peak here and it will take 9 hours but it becomes dangerous in poor conditions so I have to be careful. It's the second highest peak in the UK so it's not easy and if you've seen any of the scenery around here it doesn't look easy but the walk sort of is. It starts at 650 m and only rises 950 m or so which isn't scary compared to Ben Nevis's 1500 or so. The problems come from the conditions, it is very exposed to the elements and knowing just a little of Scotlan's weather means I have to be careful. It's a 9 hour walk so I'll need some luck and an early start.

Today was distillery day and saw us at Glen Ord Distellery. It's Scotland's fourth largest brewer distilling 11.5 million litres each year. Despite the volume things are still quite traditional and they do distill a good single malt. The process is both simple (only 3 ingredients) and complex (a master blender's art) and quite intriguing. The water comes from the ' Black Isle' which in that great UK tradition is neither black nor an island! It's meant to be scenic and a bit of a Sinday drive for the locals but we found it rather ordinary. Whether we were not sure where to go or what I'm not sure but as I said it was ordinary. But then again we e just come off the Coast 500! The lack of photos of the distillery and Black Isle are a result of Mr Silly forgetting the ipad. For some that's a blessing though!

Also visited Culloden. It's just about a sacred site here. It's the site of a famous battle where 1600 Jacobites and just 50 government troops died in just less than an hour! It certainly changed Scottish history. It lead to banning of tartans and kilts for one thing. The trials and persecutions that followed were even worse than the 'spare no quarter' orders given after the battle. Yes they were different times but the brutality and savagery were truly scary. In the battle itself 700 men were said to have been slaughtered within 3 minutes! From my reading mostly because of the vanity of Bonny Prince Charles. His past victories had convinced him that he was unbeatable and that thought of invincibility was a major failing.Government troops had learnt from previous defeats and it seemed only a matter of time before they would overcome. Hindsight is terrific but for all his good points he had equally as many failings. He died in exhile, almost penniless and an alcoholic which is some fall from grace considering he was a descendant of the King and once very wealthy. The display was really well set out and very comprehensive. Through the museum the Jocobite story was told on the right hand side of the corridors and the Whigs or government perspective set out on the left hand side. By definition that gives a symmetry and evenness to the story from both perspectives and I was impressed by it. It is modern but that contrasts even more with the actual battlefield just meters away outside the doors. The fact that I took the outside tour in rain only added to its poignancy.

Now it's back reunited with my ipad and enjoying a home cooked meal and a couple of ciders. All's good in Inverness.

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