The Island In The Highlands
Practical Motorhome|May 2017
Dolphin watching and relaxation are high on the agenda for Anne and David Dean’s tour of the Black Isle peninsula in the Scottish Highlands.

We were fulfilling a long-held desire to visit the Black Isle, a peninsula lying between the Moray and Cromarty Firths on Scotland’s east coast. We broke our journey from the Midlands at Moffatt, arriving at the Camping and Caravanning Club site in glorious, late-afternoon sunshine, which called for an ice cream. In the evening, we headed off to explore the town on foot, taking in a delicious meal in The Annandale Hotel.

Continuing north the next day, we ran into torrential rainfall, which flooded the road as we drove through the Pass of Drumochter. The rain eased as we crossed the bridge from Inverness to the Black Isle and by the time we reached the Rosemarkie Club site the sun was shining. Our pitch was within a few yards of the sea and had stunning views. After a bracing walk, we had an early night and were soon lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves and the calls of oystercatchers.

Next day, we cycled into Rosemarkie village to explore, spending some time in Groam House Museum where there is an important collection of Pictish sculpture and Celtic art. The Rosemarkie cross-slab, decorated with Pictish symbols and Christian crosses, is the pride of the collection. We learnt that George Bain (1881-1968), who taught art at Kirkcaldy High School, researched the meaning of the Celtic symbols so that modern artists would have more understanding of their use in design.

On the beach we stopped at the community café for a snack, and then left the bikes and set off on foot through the Fairy Glen. This was a delight; we walked through colourful wild flowers, including water avens and herb bennett, mingling with wild parsley and ferns, past moss-covered mounds and tree branches dripping with lichen, all to the sounds of birdsong and the Rosemarkie burn bubbling over its stony bed. It was truly a magical place. Retracing our steps, we watched a tree-creeper following a spiral route up a tree trunk and saw flashes of yellow as a small flock of siskins flitted through the trees.

The following day we drove to Cromarty at the tip of the Black Isle, where we browsed a gallery of work from local artists and a pottery before continuing to Hugh Miller’s museum. Born in 1802, Hugh Miller became a well-known geologist, naturalist and writer. The museum comprised the thatched cottage where he was born, and the house next door where he lived.

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