Our destination for today was Inverness, the road hugged the South side of the loch most of the way up with great views, especially over to Castle Urquhart. When we arrived on the outskirts of Inverness we started to change our mind about visiting – no park and ride, nowhere that looked good to leave the van and it was beginning to drizzle. Walking round town in the wet was not the most appealing thought so a quick check of the maps to look for something else to close by came up with a couple of new options.
So with very little debate we decided Fort George was a much better option and headed up the coast. On arrival first impression was quite good, we had seen the fort a few years previously from the Black Isle and knew what the outside looked like so we prepared for a fort that was not a pile of old ruins, we were not aware that it was an active military base or just how well preserved it is. Parking up outside we headed for the ticket booth and were pleasantly surprise at good entry prices of less than £9 each, including an audio guide.
As soon as we walked over the Principal Bridge we were totally awestruck. This is a fort like no other we have visited or heard of. It covers over 42 acres (which is 40 football pitches they tell us), The ramparts around the fort are just over a mile in length and you can walk around them, incredible views over the Moray Firth and back towards Inverness. All of the buildings are in fairly pristine condition and its kept in a way that only the army keep things – hardly a blade of grass out of place.
All of the buildings are in use, some by Historic Scotland but the majority by the Black Watch being the regiment currently stationed there. Fort George is known as the finest example of 18th-century military engineering in the British Isles. The building of the garrison was started in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden (1746) and took over 20 years to complete, it has never been attacked and looks pretty much as it did when it was completed, this has to be another of Scotland’s finest kept secrets, enough to see to spend 2 or 3 hours there and then some more time on the coast itself.
There are a few changes of course, the mess room has a large Costa Coffee franchise complete with 5 ft coffee cup outside the door, there are a couple of gift shops and one of the former Governor’s houses has been converted to a Regimental museum of the Highland Regiments. This itself was worth the entry fee, a good hour to walk round and see the history of the regiments that make up the current Highland Regiment, including a room where you can dress up in the Highlanders uniforms (of course we did!!).
From there it was just a quick hop along the coast to Nairn, a lovely old fishing village now better known as a seaside resort. We parked up on the harbour for a bit of late lunch and watched the mist rolling in, we sat for a while on dolphin watch but they must have been well hidden in the very low cloud. We are now at our overnight site, the C&CC just outside Nairn. Its a forest site set amongst the trees but just off the main A9, very busy with campervans and motorhomes, possibly due to them offering a very good rate at the moment compared to the other club sites in the area.