Charming white harled village that is picture postcard pretty and features on many pictures postcards
On the northeastern tip of the Black Isle Peninsula, at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth, is the gorgeous village of Cromarty, one of the east coast's major attractions. Its neat white-harled houses interspersed with gracious merchants' residences are almost unchanged since the 18th century when it was a sea port thriving on trade as far afield as Russia and the Baltic. Many emigrants bound for the New World embarked here. A prosperity based on textiles and fishing led to decline and dereliction.
A serious crime
The Brahan SeerSeer, Brahan was boiled in a barrel of tar in 1660 but not before he had foretold the building of the Caledonian Canal and Kessock Bridge, the Highland Clearances and the Second World War. He also predicted the demise of the local lairds and the Seaforths. It was Lady Seaforth who ordered his execution, after the seer had a vision of her husband in the arms of another woman. Apparently the precise spot where he met his end is now the 13th hole of the golf course at Chanonry Point, which just goes to prove that it is indeed unlucky for some.
Local Sights & Activities for CromartySightseeing
Although restored and much inhabited, Cromarty now has the atmosphere of a backwater, but a very attractive one at that, where you feel as if you're stepping back in time, in stark contrast to the numerous oil rigs moored on the opposite shore in Nigg Bay (see below). For a fascinating insight into the history of the area, visit the 18th-century Cromarty Courthouse, in Church Street, which houses the town's museum. Info - Apr-Oct daily 1000-1700, £4.50, concssion/children £3.50, includes loan of headset for recorded tour of the town's other historic buildings, which houses the town's museum. T600418. Next to the courthouse is the thatch-roofed Hugh Miller's Cottage, birthplace of the eminent local geologist and author. Info- 31 Mar-30 Sep daily 1230-1630, Oct Sun-Wed 1230-1630, £5, concession £4, family £14. T600245. Also worth seeing is the elegant 17th-century East Church.
There's a good walk along a coastal path from the east end of the village through woodland to the top of the South Sutor headland, one of the two steep headlands guarding the narrow entrance to the Cromarty Firth. There are excellent views from here across the Moray Firth. Leaflets describing this and other local walks are available at the Cromarty Courthouse.
One of Cromarty's main attractions is its dolphins. They can be seen from the shore, or with a boat trip, but make sure you go with an accredited operator, such as Dolphin Ecosse, Tel. 600323. Full-day or half-day trips leave from the harbour and you can see porpoises and seals as well as dolphins, and perhaps even killer whales further out. To the west, the mudflats of Udale Bay are an RSPB reserve and a haven for wading birds and wintering duck and geese, which can be viewed from a hide. In the winter other birds such as pinkfooted geese and whooper swans use the bay as a roost.
Poyntzfield Herb Garden is an organic plant nursery specializing in rare and native medicinal herbs. Worth visiting if only for a glimpse of the house, and the view from the car park over the Cromarty Firth through massive beech trees.
Cromarty Hotels & Accommodation
For such an appealing place, there's precious little accommodation. The best place to stay is the Royal Hotel, on Marine Terrace, Tel. 600217, It has a good restaurant, and cheaper meals are available in the bar. There are a couple of B&Bs, including the very good Beechfield House at 4 Urquhart Court, Tel. 600308, Another good place to eat is Thistle's Restaurant on Church St, Tel. 600471, which has a moderately priced and imaginative menu, including interesting vegetarian dishes. A great place for tea and scones is Binnie's Tearoom on Church St. For cheap bar food try the Cromarty Arms, opposite the Cromarty Courthouse, which also has live music some nights.
It's advisable to book ahead during the summer.
Travel Directions to Cromarty
There are regular daily buses from Inverness and a bus service twice a week to and from Dingwall. A 2-car ferry crosses to Nigg every half hour from Apr to Oct, 0900-1800. Highland Bus & Coach, Tel. 01463-233371, runs a bus service from Inverness to Fortrose and Cromarty (4-7 times daily Mon-Sat). There is also a bus service to and from Dingwall on Wed and Thu.