Exploring the Black Isle 

Written Jan. 24 

I’m utterly shattered after exploring the Black Isle (Fortrose, Rosemarkie, Cromarty) – but so worth it. 

The visitor centre recommended these walks along the peninsula, and I was so happy that I finally got some coastal views again (the only other beach I’ve seen on this trip was Brighton Beach). 

Since this is still part of the Scottish Highlands, it’s obviously stunning. Anything in Scotland is guaranteed to be beautiful. 

The bus trips were really short (20 min from Iverness) and because I was dropped off in towns and villages, it was super easy to find the bus stops again – on the one main road, haha. 

Fortrose is a town and former burgh, most popular for spotting bottlenosed dolphins (sadly, I saw none). It shares a beautiful golf course with Rosemarkie and has a lovely lighthouse (Chanonry Lighthouse) at Chanonry Point, the end of the Ness. The Fortrose Academy overlooks the stunning coastline, similar to UCSB – but even nicer, since this is Scotland, meaning there are views of the mountains and hillsides in the distance. 

Rather than take the stupidly short bus to Rosemarkie, I walked along the coast instead (only about 2.6 km). Even though it was really windy and chilly, I just loved how the beach was lined with snow-capped mountains and rolling green hills in the distance. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a beach that had such stunning backdrops. The water wasn’t crystal clear (or even blue for that matter), but who cares? The views were breathtaking nonetheless. I can’t get enough of the Scottish Highlands. 

If I thought that Fortrose was nice, I was blown away by the views in Cromarty when I first stepped off the bus. 

Two large land masses of green and golden hues lined the ocean that spilled into a port with a giant tanker ship. A huge grassy field, perfect for picnics and dog walking, was next to the coast – idyllic scenery. 

Cromarty is known for its Georgian/Victorian fisherman’s cottages in a vernacular style. I absolutely loved all the designs of the homes. Some were a lot more elaborate and modernised – same as Fortrose. The ones bordering the coast always looked like replicas of the posh homes in Irvine and San Marino. 

The town is also famous for being the birthplace of geologist Hugh Miller (his cottage and monument are within walking distance of the bus stop), as well as the Cromarty House and a few cemeteries. I’m fascinated by the cemeteries here – every time I pass one, I have to walk through it and take photos. I wish our cemeteries had ancient tombstones dating back to the 1600s – but alas, America doesn’t have that kind of history. Ugh. 

It’s such a simple way of life in these towns. Most of the shops and cafes (once again, on High Street- I don’t know why everywhere in the U.K. uses the same street names for the main hubs) are closed on Mondays/Tuesdays. 

I stumbled upon the South Tudor Viewpoint sign by accident (and obviously had to explore). It turned into quite a mission – I (yet again) misjudged one of the paths when it seemed to disappear in the woods. Idiot me realised that when I retraced my steps back (killing about 40 min in total, ugh), there were distinct wooden steps going uphill that I totally missed the first time. I don’t know why I thought it was wise to follow a dangerously narrow trail on a slanted hill for about 20 min, but I did – and the several times that my foot slipped on some of the mud were instances where my life flashed before my eyes. 

But I reached the viewpoint! …. and it wasn’t any different from the view down below. Bollocks. 

However, I was rewarded with the sunset – my very first one that I saw on the coast out here (also, there hasn’t been much sun in the past month). The pinks, blues, oranges and yellows – oh my God, the sky was a masterpiece. 

I topped the evening off with a stroll along the River Ness again, and walked along all the way past Waterloo Bridge so I was far isolated and away from the city centre. 

I’m a little bummed that I’m going back to Edinburgh for four more days rather than explore more of the Highlands, but at least I know how to plan when I come back. 

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