dog-walking-inverness

Dog Walks around Inverness

As a lucky dog owner we are very fortunate to live in an area surrounded by beautiful scenery.  There’s a tremendous choice of dog walks around Inverness.  Our Highland dog, Hector, enjoys regular trips to the Ness Islands, Inverness, which is just a few minutes walk from here.  He also loves the beach and has several favourites.  We also like walks in the woods along trail paths, always better if there’s a bit of water nearby for a quick dip.  Best of all is when we walk with friends and their pooches, it’s great to sniff the Highland air with your chums around.

The Ness Islands

A fabulous, safe environment for dogs and children to walk and play.  The Ness Islands are a collection of small islands in the middle of the River Ness, connected by pedestrian bridges.  There are plenty of places to paddle in the river and you’re bound to meet other 4 legged friends there.  Even without a dog it’s a must see for visitors to Inverness.  It’s very close to the town centre yet it’s tranquil with some huge old trees and wildlife to see.

Beaches

Our favourites are Dornoch, Rosemarkie and Nairn.  Each is a car ride away but worth the trip.  A good stretch of the legs on the beach can be followed up with coffee and cake at the Rosemarkie Beach Cafe for the dog owners.  Whilst the cafe thoughtfully provides water bowls and dog biscuits for our charges.

Walks in the Woods around Inverness

To get away from it all we like to walk in the woods around Inverness.  Craig Phadraic is within Inverness and gives a terrific view of the city from one of the highest points.  Ord Hill is just over the Moray Firth on the Black Isle and one of our favourites is Aldourie woods near the village of Dores.  It backs on to the shore of Loch Ness  so it gives the dogs a chance to cool their paws in the water.

Dog Walks around Inverness

Ord Hill overlooking the Moray Firth

Here’s a selection of Hector’s dog walks around Inverness with some of his paw pals.  if you’re wondering how we get the dogs to sit so beautifully for the photos, there’s a great deal of shouting going on in the background!

 

Dog walks around Inverness

Aldourie Woods on the banks of Loch Ness

Dog Walks around Inverness

Hector and Gordon Kanyewestie

Dog walks around Inverness

Hector and Alfie at the beach near Nairn

Dog Walks around Inverness

Fun at the beach

 

North Coast 500 is a route of 516 miles of the most stunning coastal scenery in the highlands of Scotland.  It starts and ends in Inverness and takes in places like Ullapool, Durness, John O’Groats and Dornoch.

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Many visitors to the north don’t realise quite how much there is to see beyond Inverness but this route shows off the rich heritage of the Scottish Highlands.  From Inverness the route heads to the dramatic west coast across to Applecross and then north to Gairloch, Poolewe and Ullapool.  Then it’s up the north west coast to Durness and along the north coast right across to John O’Groats, the furthest north on the mainland of the UK.  Then it’s back to Inverness taking in the softer landscape of the east coast.

A straight forward loop but whilst you will enjoy the most fantastic scenery the roads can be challenging in places with single track driving in parts, although there are plenty of passing places.  This isn’t a journey to rush but one to savour with meandering country roads and some of the most beautiful countryside in the world.  You will enjoy golden sandy beaches, mountains, lochs and rugged coastal roads.  You will be spoilt for choice for walks and hikes along the route.

What shall we see?

This is also a great opportunity to find out more about the history of Scotland from the many cultural attractions including castles, museums and heritage centres.  Dunrobin Castle, Timespan Heritage Centre, Ullapool Museum are all fascinating places to visit.  You can also take in the rich food and drink heritage and sample local specialities along the way.  As well as a vast choice of accommodation and eating options you can also visit farm shops, distilleries and examples of cottage industry providing locally sourced produce.  The Caithness Smokehouse, Rock Rose Gin Distillery, Cocoa Mountain and the Black Isle Brewery are just a few examples.

 

Where do we start?

To help plan your trip around the North Coast 500 NC500 is the place to start with full details of the route and what you will find along the way.

 

Bannerman B&B

Bannerman B&B

Bannerman Achieves 4 Star Status

4 star logoWe are delighted to announce that we have been awarded 4 star status by VisitScotland. Following the annual assessment by the tourist organisation, VisitScotland were pleased to upgrade our rating to 4 star.

A great deal of work and investment in the property over the last 8 years has given this great achievement.  We strive to maintain and improve standards and provide friendly and helpful service, so it’s wonderful to know it has paid off.  It is also thanks to the wonderful guests who take time to post positive reviews on Tripadvisor and share their experiences with other travellers.

The Early Days

I bought Bannerman Bed and Breakfast in 2006 and back then it didn’t have a name, let alone any trade.  The building was known as Kilmory and had been used as staff accommodation for a group of large guest houses.  At the time there were no plants in the garden or pictures on the walls, so I had a blank canvas to work with.   But I knew Inverness was a great location to visit and being on the main road to Loch Ness, Skye and Fort William made it an ideal spot.  The house had huge potential and seemed to be a perfect size.

The last 9 years have involved continual re-investment in the property and enhancing the facilities and services offered.  This has included a new front door, insulating a couple of bedrooms, 2 websites, new signage, developing the breakfast menu, overhauling the garden and several coats of paint.  This January we completed the refurbishment of all the bathrooms.

Going Forward

Of course this business is always evolving.  Priorities change and guest expectations continue to rise as they should do.  Back in 2006 most guests wanted to know if the bedrooms had ensuite facilities and now it’s just assumed that they do.  Now the first question is ‘what’s the password for the Wifi?’  We will continue to listen to guests, make improvements and maintain our standards.

Highland campervan

Highland Campervans – Freedom of the Road

For a great way to make the most of Scotland’s stunning scenery, hiring a campervan gives you access to every corner of the landscape. Providing both transport and a bed for the night, a campervan gives you the ultimate freedom of the road.  Hiring a super little campervan means maximum flexibility to plan your trip wherever the road takes you.  Or you can just adapt your plans around the ever-changing weather forecast.

Take in Inverness

Inverness is a perfect base to start and finish your highland adventure.  There are excellent transport links by air, train and road. You can take in the local landmarks, like Culloden and Urquhart Castle.  And enjoy the wonderful range of restaurants, night life and accommodation before heading out in your chosen chariot.

For the perfect start and finish to your Highland trip book your accommodation at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast so you can relax in Inverness in comfort before setting out on your adventure.

Highland Campervans are conveniently located near the airport and will take time to match you with the right vehicle.  They offer comprehensive pre-hire advice to ensure you have the most suitable campervan or motorhome to suit your needs.  In addition they offer unlimited mileage and 24 hour support during your holiday.  The hire fleet includes  vehicles suitable for the remoter roads in the far reaches of the Scottish Highlands.  They’re also narrow enough to fit in a standard parking space.  And of course they include a few home comforts.  Whether you choose to sleep underneath the stars or in a fixed bed in the van, there’s still a shower and toilet on board.  The full fleet is fuel-efficient which will come in handy in the remotest parts of the country.

From their base near Inverness you can head in any direction to get on the road and start enjoying your holiday.  So what more do you need to enjoy the trip of a lifetime.  There’s breathtaking scenery, the freedom of the road in a modern, comfortable campervan with a few home comforts thrown in.

Bannerman’s New Ensuite Bathrooms

We’re proud to announce our remaining rooms, the Snug and the Eden rooms, now have completely refurbished ensuite bathrooms and are looking very smart in time for the forthcoming season.  This follows the upgrading of the other two rooms, Macintosh and Fraser last year.  Now all four rooms have new showers, WC, basin and heated towel rail as well as a bright and refreshing finish.  The new bathroom mirrors are fitted with a de-mister so they don’t get steamed up whilst you have a shower and include a sensor light and power socket for shaver or electric toothbrush.

In addition we provide towels and complimentary toiletries from Scottish Fine Soap.  We’re often asked by guests where they can buy them from when they get home, so we’ve provided a link to their site.

The Snug Bathroom

The Snug Bathroom

Of course there’s more to Bannerman Bed and Breakfast than just the bathrooms.  With 4 stylish and comfortable rooms, we offer the comforts of home with the service you need to enjoy your stay.  But the days of queuing in a drafty corridor for the bathroom are long gone.  You may think nostagically for times gone by but our expectations are for higher standards of facilities these days.  We used to think having a basin in a b&b bedroom was quite fancy.  Now we’re looking for an ensuite bathroom with modern facilities.

It’s great to start the day with a refreshing shower followed by a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day.  Whether you are here for sport, a hill-walker or you’ve just enjoyed a busy day of sight-seeing, it’s always good to know there’s a plentiful supply of hot water back at your bed and breakfast so you can spruce up before you go out for the evening.

The Eden Bathroom

The Eden Bathroom

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A Loch Ness Monster soup ladle will add mystery to your soup recipes. A must have addition to the kitchen is thís soup ladle based on our beloved Loch Ness monster, Nessie. You know you want one don’t you?!

Demand for these ladles has been huge and they have appeared all over the world, such is the fascination with the Loch Ness Monster and of course it’s an excellent product.  Who doesn’t want to see our Nessie peeping out of the soup pot!  Supplies are out of stock in many countries but due to be available again in April 2015 so not long to go – try Red Candy in the UK.

So now that you’ve got your Nessie inspired soup ladle, you’ll need the recipe for Scotch Broth.  This is a traditional Scottish soup, made from a bit of everything and designed to be very filling.  Ingredients can be substituted but ideally it’s made the night before to allow the flavour to develop.

Ingredients

75g pearl barley and 75g split pease

1kg of neck or mutton or lamb

1 large onion

1 large leek

1 neep (turnip)

approx 2 litres of water, depending on thickness required

3 carrots

2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley

salt and pepper

Method

Pre-soak the barley and split peas

Chop all the vegetables

Soften the chopped onion in a little cooking oil.  Once softened add the water and meat and boil, skimming off any fatty deposits from the top.

After boiling for about half an hour add the barley and peas and simmer for another 30 minutes

Add the remaining vegetables

Remove the bone, strip off the meat the return this to the pot.

Add parsley before serving, perfect with warm crusty bread.

Delicious and nutritious and very warming after exploring the Scottish countryside.  Don’t let a soup ladle be your only Monstrous experience – come and see the real thing!

How to drink whisky

Do you need advice on the best way to appreciate whisky?  Have you always thought it looks like a good idea but you are confused about the dos and don’ts of whisky-drinking.  Here’s a fascinating article to help you.  It reminds us all that, as with most things in life, it’s not about etiquette or snobbishness,  it’s all about your personal preference.  5 Myth-Busting Ways to Improve Your Whisky Drinking

It’s not surprising that it’s confusing, with hundreds of different malts distilled in Scotland alone.  The industry is currently booming with exports increasing throughout the world.  Along with our cashmere, tweed, fishing and farming produce, you can appreciate  the fruits of our labours thoughout the world.

You can find out a great deal about the industry visiting the many distilleries in Scotland.  Even the smallest are aware of the interest by tourists and most have organised tours of their facilities and the all important tasting session at the end of the visit.   You don’t have to go too far to find the Malt Whisky Trail, with its concentration of 7 distilleries in a few square miles and includes the Speyside Cooperage where they make the barrels for storage.

With so many whiskys to choose you could spend a lifetime finding the one that suits you best, but think what fun you would have trying and testing! Picture yourself in front of a roaring fire, relaxed on a comfortable sofa, nursing a glass of single malt in a heavy crystal glass.  Imagine you are in an advert with David Beckham, being directed by Guy Ritchie.  If this doesn’t convert you to the glamour and coolness of the refined act of whisky drinking, nothing will.  And remember point number 5 in the myth-busting article – Leave a whisky bottle open for too long and it loses its flavour.

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Have a wee dram

 

 

 

Inverness Highland Games

Your Guide to the Highland Games in Scotland in 2014

With a bit of planning and co-ordination you could spend your entire holiday attending Highland Games in Scotland in 2014.  In the summer months there’s an event happening most weekend somewhere in Scotland and the spectacle is worth a visit at least once on your holiday.  Highland Games are a great family event celebrating the culture of Scotland with sport, music and dance.  The event can vary in size from a small village gathering to the famous Braemar Highland Gathering which attracts visitors and competitors from all over the world and last year attracted an attendance of around 16,000 people.  That’s not bad for a village with around 900 inhabitants the rest of the year, but clearly the attendance of the Royal Family is a big draw.

Heavy Events

The traditional view of a kilted man up-ending an enormous tree trunk or Tossing the Kayber can be seen at the games.  Inverness holds a unique place in Highland Games history as the Northern Meeting Games of 1822 featured stone lifting – a world first at any Games.  From 12th to 14th September the Highland Strongman Show will return to the Northern Meeting Park and feature the original stone lifting challenge of lifting a 252 pound stone over a 5 foot bar.  This is in addition to the annual Inverness Highland Games on 19th July.

 

Piping and Dancing

The Games are as much about music and dancing as they are about sports.  The impressive sight of competing marching pipe bands can be seen today as well as demonstations of traditional Highland dancing.  Originally clan chieftains would have pitted their pipers against those of other clans and the prestige that cam from success was considerable.    The competitve element is a major attraction in its own right but when combined with the spectacle of Highland dancers and pipers, and the colour and grandour of the scenery which forms the backdrop, attendance of a Highland games becomes a must on any visitor’s Scotland itinerary.

For the full schedule of Highland Games in Scotland in 2014 click for dates and ticket information.

 

 

Eating Places in Inverness
Eating Places in Inverness

Dinner at the Rocpool

It’s been a struggle to pick 10 favourite eating places in Inverness, as I could easily have suggested another 10.  Admittedly a couple are just outside Inverness but well worth the journey and clearly we are spoilt for choice.  I’ve lived here for over a decade, so I’ve had time to do extensive research into compiling 10 favourite eating places in Inverness.

Make a Reservation

I strongly recommend you make a dinner reservation before you get here if you’re staying here in the summer months.  All the eating places below get very busy and if you have a favourite then book ahead.  There are many more eating options than just the ones listed below.  Each one listed below has a link to the business’ website but also many are listed on Open Table.

1. Rocpool Restaurant

It remains my favourite of all since it never disappoints.  It’s a modern Inverness brasserie on the banks of the River Ness with a lively atmosphere, exceptional food and attentive service.  Reservations are recommended, so you won’t miss out.

The Dores Inn on the south side of Loch Ness

The Dores Inn on the south side of Loch Ness

2. Dores Inn

10 miles outside Inverness on the banks of Loch Ness, the setting for this delightful pub is stunning.  Whatever time of year you go the scenery is wonderful.  This traditional inn with slate floor and wood-burning stove is comfortable and welcoming and the choice of local food and drink is extensive.

3. Mustard Seed

A very well-known Inverness restaurant with a lively atmosphere.  The building on the riverside was originally a church and then a book shop and has been transformed into a modern restaurant serving a European menu with Highland influences and in-season ingredients.

4. The Kitchen

in the same theme the Kitchen is owned by the same group as the Mustard Seed and has a similar menu and equally good standards.  It is set in a modern glass fronted building on the other side of the river.  It has a brasserie style and includes a pasta and pizza section.

5. The Black Isle Bar

My favourite pub in Inverness.  This is a welcoming bar with big tables for groups to sit and a friendly atmosphere.  They serve craft beer and organic wines.  The beer includes stock from their own Black Isle Brewery.  They have a simple menu which is mainly wood-fired pizzas with many local ingredients.

6. Girvans Restaurant and Patisserie

An old-fashioned cafe style restaurant in the heart of the city centre.  Sometimes there is a queue to get a table in Girvans at peak times but it’s not for long and it’s worth the wait.  It has an extensive menu offering good value and it’s open all day.  Perfect for a coffee and a strawberry tart while you take a break from retail therapy.

7. The Fig and Thistle

In a central location next door to Girvans, this is a really friendly restaurant serving excellent lunches and dinners and includes traditional Scottish fayre.

8. Cafe One

This is a modern, exciting restaurant situated opposite Inverness castle.  They specialise in serving interesting menus with local ingredients, including food sourced from their own farm.

9. Urquharts Restaurant

This is a family run city centre restaurant on a first floor.  They serve huge portions of delicious, hearty food.

10. Oakwood Restaurant

About 4 miles outside Inverness on the road to Loch Ness and Fort William.  This friendly restaurant with a delicious menu also has a gift shop.  It does not have an alcohol licence so you will need to to bring your own if you want to drink alcohol.

Inverness Accommodation

You’ll need a great place to stay whilst you enjoy all these eating options, so here is my Bed and Breakfast.  Read more about why you should stay in Inverness and why it’s a great destination here.

Eilean Donan Castle, a beautiful drive from Inverness

Highland Weddings

You may already have received your share of wedding invitations for the coming year.  As well as deciding what on earth to wear and what to buy as a wedding gift, you may well also need to find some wedding accommodation to make the most of your stay.  As weddings have changed over the years from the traditional church service followed by a reception in a hotel, they can now be quite self-contained with the wedding service, reception and dance all taking place under the one roof.  There’s a great choice of romantic settings in the Scottish Highlands including luxurious country estates and traditional castles.  There was great excitement in these parts when Madonna chose Skibo Castle, near Dornoch in Sutherland for her marriage to Guy Ritchie.

Tartan Wedding

One of the obvious characteristics of highland weddings is seeing men in traditional Scottish dress.  In the same way that men in formal black tie attire is very smart, formal Highland dress is equally striking.  For men who don’t have a kilt, don’t worry, there are any places you can hire all the gear such as Boarstone Tartans in Inverness.  Not only can you hire a kilt or dinner suit, they can advise you on exactly what you need to order down to where to put your skean dhu.  For ladies the dress code is the same as everywhere else, whether it’s a hat wedding or not.

Highland Fling

Another distinctive part of a typical Scottish wedding is the ceilidh dance which takes place after the wedding reception.  Ideally with a traditional band to play an array of Scottish country music that will have you on your feet for the rest of the night.  Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with Scottish country dancing.  There’s usually a caller to shout instructions and you may find your more familiar than you think with an Eightsome Reel, a Dashing White Sargeant or the Flying Scotsman.  Either way it’s great fun and you wont be surprised if you’re whisked off your feet.