Monday, 12 October 2009

To Inverness

It has been many years since I've stopped in Inverness, rather than just passing through, so I was curious to see what the town* - which has supposedly been one of the fastest growing in Britain - is like today. There were certainly signs of change - the Polish delis that are in all large British towns, and a huge shopping centre squatting over a couple of roads. Not to mention the Kessock Bridge, which has been built since I last stopped in Inverness! It feels larger than Stirling - perhaps, if Inverness keeps growing, it will overtake Paisley in population size, if it has not already done so? It's certainly a nice area to live if you like outdoor sports, with a dry east-coast climate situated very close to some of the best west coast scenery, with biking, hiking, rafting, skiing and most other things well catered for nearby. In fact the only thing that marks it down as a place to live is the short hours of winter daylight. It could also do with a university campus, but the University of the Highlands and Islands is a unique, decentralised organisation with offices scattered across the north and west.

St Andrew's Cathedral from Inverness Castle:

Although there has been change in Inverness, some things have remained as I remembered. The outlook from the castle is beautiful, as is the walk up the island-studded River Ness. Unfortunately there wasn't time to go up Creag Phadraig where the Pictish kings held court, as I was in Inverness on business.

The reason I was in Inverness was to talk about my book. (I promise not to make too many more posts on this subject!) It was good to meet John Allen, author of Cairngorm John, and John Davidson, an outdoor journalist who chaired our talk. Both Johns live in Inverness/Invernesshire. Cameron McNeish lives in the next-door village to John Allen. It's the place to be, it seems, if you are going to write about the outdoors.

At the book festival:

*Inverness is officially now a city, but there's really only one proper city in Scotland, and that's Glasgow.

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