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The Highlands (Invergordon), Scotland

About Invergordon

The Scottish town of Invergordon lies on the doorstep of the mountainous, heather-covered Highlands. Nestled between a patchwork of farmland and a deep glacier-carved harbor, the small community celebrates itself with a series of stunning murals painted by local artists. These valleys and glens were once home to Scotland’s legendary tribal clans, until the Highland way of life was outlawed in the 18th century and mass migrations gave the terrain back to nature. Its cultural traditions made a comeback some years later, however, and now tracing clan history and wearing tartan is a sign of Highland pride.

In 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, 1,000 British Atlantic soldiers protested wage cuts and halted work in what was known as the Invergordon Mutiny, one of the few military strikes in British history. Widespread panic made its way to the London Stock Exchange, leading to massive gold withdrawals. As a result, the pound sterling was taken off the gold standard and a new era of currency management was born.

Invergordon Lifestyle and Culture

The small seaside town of Invergordon is the gateway to the rugged Scottish Highlands. But if you’re staying local, then a stroll down its streets provides a glimpse of the leisurely way of life here. If you’re lucky, you may have a chat with one of the friendly residents, or hear strains of bagpipes from a nearby celebration. It’s the ideal place to just grab a pint and soak up Scottish life.

Culture here is very much informed by the Highlands. While English is the primary language, Scottish Gaelic still survives throughout the region. Other traditions have deep roots, with bagpipes and Scotch whisky never far from reach. The area’s famous kilts, Scottish knee-length skirts made of wool, originated in the Highlands. Very practical garments, they maintained warmth in cold climates and allowed for easy movement.

Owing to the remoteness of the region, the Highlands are a popular retreat for outdoorsmen. Golfing, cycling, mountain biking, hiking and hill climbing are all options here, tempting local city-dwellers and adventure-seeking visitors to Scotland alike.

Invergordon Sights and Landmarks

Invergordon’s famous mural trail represents past and present Highland life in 17 large, colorful paintings scattered throughout town. The joint effort of several community groups, collectively known as “Invergordon Off the Wall,” the official mural trail was opened by the Princess Royal. For a dose of local history, visit the Invergordon Naval and Heritage museum, a rich chronicle of the town’s past, including the infamous 1931 naval mutiny. The Church of Scotland and its imposing steeple, built in 1861, can be seen from miles around.

Scotland is not short on breathtaking castles, and three are within easy reach of Invergordon. Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly, dating back to the 14th century. Known as the “jewel in the crown of the Highlands,” it was one of the nation’s largest hunting lodges. Tour the dining room, music room, drawing room and library with its more than 10,000 books. Cawdor Castle was built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor. This fairy-tale castle has three magnificent gardens, including the Walled Garden with its impeccably manicured holly maze. Not far from Cawdor is Brodie Castle, a 175-acre estate with gardens, a pond and a nature trail. Home to the Clan Brodie, the 16th-century castle boasts an impressive antique collection.

Invergordon Entertainment and Activities

One of the biggest attractions in the area is Loch Ness. Its iconic monster, “Nessie,” is fabled to lurk in the lake. It is the second largest and second deepest loch in the British Isles, and Nessie is thought to be part of a long-surviving line of plesiosaurs that thrived in the Jurassic era. Locals still claim to see the creature drifting through the water in the shadow of Urquhart Castle, a former royal stronghold and military garrison that played a central role in the Wars of Scottish Independence.

Whisky is a mainstay here, as its grains are harvested from the surrounding farmland and aged to perfection in local grain distilleries. The Glenmorangie Distillery, about 15 miles north of Invergordon, gets its prized water from nearby Tarlogie Springs.

Culloden Battlefield is an attraction for history buffs. Here, in 1746, the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising lasted a mere hour, but left behind more than 1,000 casualties. Visit the 20-foot Memorial Cairn, erected by Duncan Forbes in 1881, and the graves of the clans where headstones bear the names of the fallen.

Invergordon Restaurants and Shopping

With green hillsides and clear coastal waters, Scotland produces top-quality produce and seafood, and Invergordon is no exception. The national dish is haggis, a savory minced meat pudding that’s an acquired taste for some. The country is also well known for its baked goods (particularly oatcakes), Atlantic salmon, lobster and cheese.

Stroll High Street for a number of different venues including the Crazy Horse, for traditional pub-style food, and the Purple Turtle, which serves up a full Scottish breakfast and delectable bakery items. Another great in-town option is the Alexander Restaurant at the Kincraig Castle Hotel. With white linen tablecloths, candlelight and a fireplace to complement the seasonal menu, it offers fine dining in a cozy Highlands setting.

At Birch Tree, a few miles north of town, fresh seafood and locally raised lamb are top choices. Reservations are a must.

High Street is also where you’ll find most locally owned shops and businesses. The Corner Shop stocks general household items and clothing, but if you’re looking for souvenirs, check out McRaes on Shore Road.