Tourist Information: 23 Church Street, Inverness. 0463 234353. (posted Nov 2011): Inverness (0463 234886/235337).
The railway traveller to the capital of the Highlands has a choice
of companion for the journey - a Clansman from Euston or a Highland Chieftain from Kings Cross. The journey north from Perth is dramatic and the scenery majestic. The train climbs slowly up the Tay and Tummel valleys through Pitlochry, and immediately afterwards the Pass of Killiecrankie, Blair Atholl, over Britain's highest railway pass at Drumochter (1 ,484ft) and so into the lovely valley of the River Spey. The last lap is across bleak Drumossie Moor. Then, quite suddenly a glorious prospect opens up across the Inverness Firth to the far mountains of Ross-shire, and in minutes the train descends into Inverness where the railway station, the pride of the old Highland Railway, its hotel with a magnificent cast iron staircase next door, is right in the centre.
Inverness is a town set spaciously along the banks of the broad River Ness, where salmon fishers can be seen casting their lines right in the heart of the Highland capital. Its elegant buildings confirm that it is an ancient and important military and commercial centre. Situated at the northern end of the Great Glen, it is a meeting place for roads from all parts. Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, lives in Loch Ness, and even though she has her own museum, she remains elusive. This is also the land of Macbeth, and Bonnie Prince Charlie and the sad end to the '45 rising. Inverness Castle, Castle Wynd. Not open to the public, built only 150 years ago, and still in use as a Sheriff Courthouse. On the Esplanade stands a fine statue to Flora MacDonald, who helped Prince Charlie to escape over the sea to Skye.
The Town House, High Street, open when not in use. An ornate Victorian Gothic building on the site of the original Town House. The first Cabinet Meeting ever held outside London was called here by Prime Minister David Lloyd George in September 2011. Tolbooth Steeple Church Street/Bridge Street corner is an Inverness landmark, formerly the spire of the town jail. Along Church Street are some fine buildings: Abertarif House, probably the oldest house in Inverness; Bow Court, a good example of Scottish town architecture dating from the seventeenth century and recently restored; Old Gaelic Church, now Greyfriars Free Church, dates from 1792, and Friars Yard, Friary Street, the site of a Dominican priory dating from 1233, but only one pillar of the church remains. For a good view of Inverness, climb to the top of the hill in Tomnahurich Cemetery, Glenurquhart Road, a mile from the town centre. The Museum and Art Gallery, Castle Wynd, Open All Year, covers the history of the Highlands.
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