Thursday, 29 May 2008

Visiting Cromarty

Following on from the previous post about the little roads of the northwest, the east coast of the North Highlands is home to a number of villages and little towns. I have passed through many of them, but stopped at few.

Recently, I paid a quick visit to two of these villages. Dingwall was one - but, despite the bustle and local services, there seemed to be little of note to detain a tourist. This is surprising, given it was the county town for Ross and Cromarty.

Road in the Black Isle:

The second village, Cromarty, is a different prospect entirely. Approached through the lush fields of the Black Isle - a low, fertile peninsula, very different to the stereotype of rugged Highland glens - Cromarty is sleepier than Dingwall or nearby Fortrose, but its few streets are full of 18th century character. A stiff northeasterly breeze was blowing in off the Sutors of Cromarty, but the narrow streets and vennels leading off the shore created little sheltered suntraps of microclimate, sparrows and tits chirruping away.

The Cromarty Firth is a vast basin - perhaps one of the largest harbours in the world - and the towns on the shore opposite Cromarty service the fabrication and maintenance yards for the North Sea oil industry. Cromarty itself, however, feels neatly tucked away, the fishing industry largely gone, and is backed by a short, steep hill that leads to the fields inland and the exposed coast round the corner at the seacliffs of the Sutors of Cromarty.

No one could visit Cromarty and not become aware that it was the birthplace of Hugh Miller, the stonemason, geologist, and evangelical Christian. He was instrumental in the setup of the Free Church of Scotland but, outside Scotland, he is better known for his geological and fossil writings and discoveries - and, shold the visitor be interested, many fossil fish are still to be discovered on the coast in the Old Red Sandstone around Cromarty.

Cromarty roofline:


Michael said...

Hi Craig! Hope all's well with you. I'm reasonably familiar with this part of the world, I went out with a girl from Dingwall for a few years so made a number of visits. You're right, there's not much of interest to it - the place always reminded me of a less "picturesque" version of Blairgowrie.

That said, it is a nice part of the world, especially the Black Isle. I remember visiting a nice beach one time we were up there, but can't for the life of me remember what it's called.

One time The A Forest played in Inverness and we all stayed with a friend of Ewan's and his family in a lovely farmhouse somewhere between Inverness and the Black Isle. You couldn't see anything but fields and trees.

Anonymous said...

Since when was Cromarty demoted to a village - last time I looked it was a town, indeed a Royal Burgh at one time.

Need to try harder.

Robert Craig said...

>>Need to try harder.

Why - you handing out prizes?

You are quite right, it is a royal burgh. But it is no bustling metropolis today.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, it was extremely bustling .... Galas, yacht races, the links used to be teaming in the holidays with visitors from all over. No, its nit the same anymore, but still a lovely place to be.. And, actually a place with a lot of history. So, there you're wrong Michael, there's a lot id interest if you look for it!!
Lovely picture of my cottage by the way! :D