Inverness Youth Hostel comes with so many possibilities. Offering the high standards of cleanliness and quality facilities that I’ve come to expect from my travels around Scotland, the common areas and cooking equipment are particularly flawless and cover everything that a Highland traveller will require. Perfectly located within a 10 minute walk of the city centre, all of the major sites in and around Inverness are highly accessible.
Inverness Castle and River Ness
So where can your Inverness itinerary take you?
While exploring this part of the world, the likelihood is that a trip to Loch Ness is on the cards for a wide variety of visitors. Within 20 minutes of the Highland capital, the Nessie pandemonium that goes hand-in-hand with these parts starts to creep unavoidably into your day.
Even with an initial steely resolve that no, you’ll most certainly not be going to Drumnadrochit to fall full force into the tourist traps that waffle on about fictitious monster sightings….you’ll likely end up there anyway.
Yes, love it or loathe it, that snake-cum-dinosaur thing has a magnetic ability to pull you in. It’s been a linchpin of our tourism industry and the fact that it can’t be completely disproved ensures that it is a legend that will never completely die either. Embrace the madness!
Once you have armed yourself with cuddly toys and have inexplicably become a proud owner of an “I heart Nessie!” t-shirt, you’ll also want to be paying a visit to Urquhart Castle. Romantically perched on the loch side, the atmospheric ruins have seen more than their fair share of strife having been besieged on numerous occasions since the 13th Century.
To cap it all, it was ultimately blown up in 1692 to prevent it being taken over by the Jacobites. Although the castle is insanely popular year-round, it is well worth a tour of the visitor centre where a video commentary tells the full story of one of Scotland’s top castles.
Further exploration of Scotland’s most famous Loch is well-advised. While the western shoreline is eternally popular with coach tours, you’ll find the east much more peaceful and home to some fabulous walking trails. The Falls of Foyers is amongst the most dramatically scenic spots in the Central Highlands and, for the super-keen, the 73 mile Great Glen Way is amongst Scotland’s most famous walking routes between Inverness and Fort William, taking in the shoreline of Loch Ness along the way.
Falls of Foyers
To the east of the Highland capital you’ll find Culloden. A name that congers up images of darkness and dread, this is an absolute must for your travel plans. With 1746 seeing the last land battle on British soil between the Jacobites and the opposing redcoat government forces, it was at this spot where around 1200 Highland warriors were killed. Regardless of allegiance or leanings, this is not a chapter of British history that can be looked back upon with any fondness.
The initial optimism that had come from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rise to prominence was already on the wane by the time of the battle and, due largely to tactical inadequacy and the sheer exhaustion of his forces, the Jacobite dream was to be killed off permanently.
I don’t think the Culloden Battlefield has an equal in Scotland for delivering a grim melancholy and reflective sadness to visitors.
A barren landscape that has been largely untouched in the centuries since, a wander around the site is still very much advised for those with any interest in Scottish and British history. The accompanying visitor centre is also arguably the most impressive we’ve got and will take you on a detailed journey from the beginning of the Jacobite uprisings to their comprehensive end.
Next up is nearby Clava Cairns. This is a mystical and curious spot that brings with it a tirade of question marks as the 21st Century visitor tries to get their head around why on earth standing stones were such prominent elements in early Highland life.Thought to have been a guiding indicator to Outlander’s Craigh na Dun site, the three burial cairns located at Clava Cairns are protectively watched over by rings of standing stones. Only a short distance from the Culloden battlefield, it is fascinating to think that two wildly different chapters of Scottish history crossed over here and fleeing Jacobite warriors may even have passed directly through. It pays to arrive here early and have the site to yourself for maximum spine-tingling effect. Just try not to get teleported back to Jacobite times, won’t you?
While having your own wheels is always handy in the Highlands, Inverness is a fantastic hub for transport to all of its nearby sites and attractions. Coach and bus tours, of any and all types and sizes, will be able to take you just about anywhere you want to go. Loch Ness in particular is also hugely popular with cyclists.
Inverness Youth Hostel is amongst the largest in SYHA Hostelling Scotland’s family and despite its central location is remarkably peaceful with excellent transport links available - some tour providers will even pick up and drop off directly at the youth hostel if you ask nicely.
Biography for Neil Robertson
Neil Robertson is a travel writer, blogger and itinerary planner specialising in his home country of Scotland. Continuously working with some of the top brands in the Scottish tourism industry he is also a member of the Scotlanders blogging collaboration that tour the country picking out the best bits for our visitors. Follow his Scotland travel blog - locomotionscotland.co.uk - and join him on social media to keep up with his travels.