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To the Black Isle, Cromarty

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 16 June 2009

Tuesday 16 June, to the Black Isle, Cromarty

We start the day relaxed with a delicious breakfast as only Iain can prepare. If at least he does not forget to watch the eggs. Afterwards we drink coffee and tea with Iain and Cathy to catch up on our lives of the past year and of course we get to hear all the neighbors' gossip.
Black Isle Black IsleThen we get in the car and drive to the Black Isle, a fertile peninsula to the north of Inverness and on the east coast of Ross and Cromarty with many roads. There are several villages but there are also many lonely houses. We notice that there are a lot for sale this year, did the crisis strike here hard as well?
A little south of Cromarty near Cullicudden we visit St. Martin's cemetery where many members of the Urquhart and Gordon clans are buried. Little is left of the church that stood here.
We also see the grave of Sandy Woods who died in 1690. At the time many thought that the day of judgment in this neighborhood would take place at a high place. This Sandy had a rather violent feud with his neighbor and was buried in the highest place so that after the resurrection he could argue his case with God first.
Lighthouse of CromartyCromarty is not very big but it is called a Burgh, a bit similar to what we call in the Netherlands a place with city rights, so a town. For a long time Cromarty was allowed to send a representative to parliament with a number of other burghs. We make a city and beach walk and also pass the 19th century lighthouse that was put out of action in 2006.
Cromarty Ross ferry Harbour of CromartyLike most Scottish coastal towns, Cromarty also has a harbor. There is a ferry to the northern peninsula that has speace for exactly 2 cars. A year later, a ferry was deployed for 4 cars but the services were very irregular. Today there seems to be another ferry sailing between June and September. It is a nice way to get to the north, otherwise you have to drive about 60 kilometers extra.
Boots getting dry Cromarty FirthOn a wall next to a house in the harbor we see 3 pairs of boots to dry. In the past Cromarty used to be a lively fishing place and the whole town has grown around the harbor. In the second world war it was a naval base. Now there are drilling rigs in the Firth (which means sea arm) that are towed to and from the North Sea. This is also an area where you should be able to spot dolphins, but in all those years we have never seen one.
Servants entrance to Cromarty HouseA little outside of Cromarty is Cromarty House and of course it is private property and therefore inaccessible to the public, although we also read later that there is supposed to be a Bed and Breakfast in it nowadays. A 15th century castle was demolished for the construction of the house. Here you see the entrance of an underground tunnel that runs to the house so that the laird (man of the house or owner of an estate) wasn't bothered by servants when he sat in the garden.
St Regulus cemetary, Cromarty Detail on a tombstone, CromartyOn the other side of the road is the St. Regulus cemetery but this is also called the Pirate cemetery because on almost every tombstone there is at least one skull and very often other symbols that all have to do with death.
We found a nice website with more information about this impressive cemetery.
Birthplace cottage of Hugh MillerBack in Cromarty we see the birth house of Hugh Miller, one of the famous Scots from the 19th century. The cottage was built by his great-grandfather who was a pirate. Miller was a man with many talents and in the house there is now a museum with many of his fossil finds and manuscripts that he wrote about all kinds of subjects.
Besides being a writer, he was also a geologist, stonemason, poet, folklorist, reformer and influential editor.
Hugh Miller monument, Cromarty Church near CromartyFrom the village you can take a short walk to the top of a hill where the Hugh Miller monument stands and from where you have a beautiful view over Cromarty.
It is a high neoclassical column with a statue of Hugh Miller on it.
Bridge in Inverness Kilts for saleThe weather is beautiful and after a few short walks we go back to Inverness to do some shopping: I have to go to my favorite second-hand bookshop and thanks to the low price of the pound we also buy some extra t-shirts and souvenirs. But a tailor-made kilt, no thanks, not for me.
And of course we visit some of our favorite outdoor cafes, although there are not many of them.
In the evening the pub is closed and we spend a pleasant evening with Iain and Cathy. We call Luc and Wilma, two friends who are somewhere in the neighborhood to meet up for tomorrow. They are people we met through our Scotland Forum . The funny thing is that we have often come across members in Scotland, sometimes very unexpectedly.


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