The Black Isle is a peninsula in the Highlands of Scotland, located north of Inverness.
Contrary to its name, the Black Isle is not an island. It is in fact a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by expanses of water, with the Cromarty Firth to the north, the Beauly Firth to the south and the Moray Firth to the east. From Inverness, it’s reachable by crossing the Kessock Bridge.
Charming towns and villages
Cromarty, located at the north east tip of the peninsula, is distinguished by its Georgian merchant houses and quaint fishermen’s cottages. In the summer the village is connected to Nigg, which lies across the Cromarty Firth, by ferry.
Overlooking the Moray Firth, Fortrose is the largest of the Black Isle’s towns and lies close to Rosemarkie, a small village with a beautiful beachfront. Also situated on the coast is Avoch, a fishing village characterised by neat little lanes of cottages running down to a historic harbour.
In the west of the peninsula is Beauly. At the heart of this riverside village lies a peaceful 13th century ruined priory and a pleasant village square.
Nature and the outdoors
One of the region’s great draws is its pod of resident bottlenose dolphins. At Chanonry Point, in between Fortrose and Rosemarkie, they can often be seen frolicking in the Moray Firth.
The Black Isle boasts two RSPB nature reserves. Fairy Glen, an enchanting wooded glen with tumbling waterfalls, is home to woodland songbirds and delicate wildflowers while Udale Bay provides a habitat for migratory pink-footed geese.
The Black Isle is great for both mountain bikers and leisure cyclists. Learnie Red Rock offers some thrilling graded forest trails, and the area is criss-crossed with quiet back roads and gentle tracks.
Rosemarkie is well known for its Pictish stones, a number of which can be seen in Groam House Museum. The Black Isle also boasts fine examples of medieval stonework and at Udale Bay, the old Kirkmichael church is being redeveloped as a visitor centre to exhibit ancient ornamental memorials.
In Cromarty, Hugh Miller’s Cottage is a beautifully preserved thatched roof stone dwelling. Inside, personal belongings tell the tale of the notable figure who lived in the 17th century and was a stonemason, geologist, author, journalist and editor.
For more information about the Black Isle, visit www.black-isle.info.