March 08, 2024 9 min read

Scotland’s Black Isle is home to a blend of some of the most photo-worthy Highland scenery and nature-spots, as well as an array of visit-worthy attractions. From Fortrose’s Rosemarkie beach and Chanonry Point’s dolphin-spotting opportunities to the historic, but also eerily mystical, Clootie Healing well and Pirate’s Graveyard. To make sure you get the most out of a visit to the Black Isle, we have compiled a whistle-stop tour of the region’s must see spots, whether you’re looking for a full day trip of activity or just searching for some good stops to break up a road trip. The Black Isle accommodates memorable moments for the adventurers, traditional sites and stories for the historians, and top-tier places to stop for Scottish grub and pub for everyone!


What to See:

Chanonry Point

Among Black Isle’s hot-spots, one stands out for its blend of breathtaking views and chance to spot wildlife being really wild- Chanonry Point. The headland may be small but it’s home to one of Scotland's dolphin-watching experiences. Chanonry Point is famed for its resident population of bottlenose dolphins that often gather here to hunt for salmon within the narrow channels of the Moray Firth. The best time to spot these guys is within the 2 hours before and after high tide, so plan your visit to coincide with these timings (and don’t forget a camera!). Chanonry Point is also history- rich with its name deriving from an Augustinian priory established in the 13th century- the former Chanonry of Ross. While little remains of the priory, you can still spot the well-pictured lighthouse that frames this peninsula!



Rosemarkie Beach

Beginning with a scenic drive along the A832, the journey to Rosemarkie beach will guide you through an array of winding roads, greenery and rolling hills until you’re greeted by the expansive Rosemarkie coastline, stretching for over a mile. The sandy beach is framed by dramatic cliffs and the Moray Firth’s sparkly waters. The beach is famed for its rich geological history, making fossil-finding a popular choice for adventurers so you can spend hours exploring the coastline and searching for natural treasures. It’s another place where you may even get to catch the likes of dolphins and seals amongst the waves. After soaking up the beach, Rosemarkie village is a lovely pit-stop spot with quaint streets which are lined with cottages and independent shops, and the Rosemarkie Pictish stones offer a glimpse of our Celtic ancestors.



Fortrose Cathedral

Framed by a green square and trees stands Fortrose Cathedral, with ruins dating back to the 1300’s. The red sandstone exterior makes this an undeniable beauty of a building and retains its beauty in its intricate stonework and views of the Moray Firth, making it a perfect place for a stroll. It takes about half an hour to meander your way through this atmospheric abbey and gather its historical past through the info-boards dotted around.



What to Do:

Black Isle Brewery

Only 10 minutes from Inverness, The Black Isle Co. brewery farm is welcome to visitors where you can tour their brewery, market garden and shop. Their brand’s are in the craft of organic beers which frankly, are delicious (our family fave is ‘Blonde Lager’!) They are B-corp certified and have a passion for sustainability which shines through their market garden where they use regenerative methods to farm fruit and vegetables for the bars they run in Inverness and Fort William. You can grab a guided tour or simply soak up the surroundings whilst having a taste of their colourful cans!


Images: @blackislebrewery


Cromarty Pottery

22 miles from Inverness in Cromarty, you can find the Cromarty Pottery workshop and shop. Started in 1966, Cromarty Pottery is now run by Barbel Dister who not only trained in Hamburg, but has also travelled Europe creating pottery since. The pieces are utterly beautiful and pretty iconic, I’ve spotted them in places all over Scotland (as well as in my own house!). Found by the coastline, it’s a lovely mid-stroll stop off and more info on their seasonal opening hours can be found on theirwebsite.


Images: @cromartypottery


Hugh Miller's Cottage

Hugh Miller is a famed Scot of the 19th century through his numerous occupations that include geologist, writer, stonemason, editor and campaigner. This thatched cottage in Cromarty is not only where he was born but it was also built by his grandfather… who is thought to be a pirate! An iconic feature of the house is the ship mast- staircase and visitors can catch a glimpse into Miller's world through his showcased fossil collection and manuscripts, as well as being able to soak in the beautiful natural landscape that inspired his geological studies.


Image: Wikipedia


What to Explore:

RSPB Fairy Glen

Embodying the definition of ‘hidden gem’ is Black Isle’s Fairy Glen; a place where natural and mythical are perfectly combined. As the name suggests, the Fairy Glen is steeped in myths and legends of fairies and mystical creatures. Locals believe that this is where these creatures once inhabited and the surreal, serene feel of the glen really backs up that theory. One of the glen’s famed features are its series of freshwater waterfalls (or ‘Fairy Pools’ as I’d rather call them) that are thought to have been the fairies’ bathing spot.



Beauly Priory 

Located in Beauly, Inverness-shire, is Beauly Priory, founded for monks allthe way back in 1230. The word ‘beauly’ literally translates to ‘beautiful place’ and the site certainly lives up to its namesake. For those with a keen history interest, the priory offers an impressive array of burial monuments dating way back, and it’s recommended to check opening times online prior to planning a visit in case of seasonal or masonry-related closure.



Hidden Gems:

The Healing Clootie Well

The Munlochy Clootie Well can be found by taking the A832 toward Munlochy and keeping your eyes peeled for the colourful rags that highlight the car park is nearby. The origins of the clootie well are linked to old Scottish traditions and in essence, you dip your piece of rag or cloth in the ‘healing well’, tie it on a tree branch, and the disintegrating cloth becomes representative of your problems, ailments or sickness melting away. It can make for quite a colourful spectacle when it has been well-visited and decorated and although this wholesome activity is encouraged, you are asked to bear in mind the kind of materials you use and whether they’re appropriate for biodegradability.



Pirate's Graveyard

Locally known as the ‘Pirate’s Graveyard’, this site is situated opposite the tunnel leading to Cromarty House. Amongst its quirks, some notable things to keep lookout for are an openable crypt marked by the Urquhart family crest, the ‘Swan Stone’, and the creepy yet cool skull and crossbones burial stone. Members of, famed geologist and writer, Hugh Miller’s family rest here and although no one knows where, the last gravestone Miller himself ever carved lies here. A lot of ghost stories stem from around the Cromarty house area, which only adds to the allure of a visit in my opinion.


Image: tartan_trailblazers


Where to Stay:

Black Isle Yurts

These traditional Mongolian yurts provide a perfect blend of rustic charm and modern comfort, making them an ideal retreat for those seeking an authentic yet cosy wilderness experience. Tucked away in a secluded corner of the Black Isle peninsula, these hand-made yurts boast breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, with rolling hills and the sparkling Moray Firth in the distance. The interior of these handcrafted yurts is warm and cosy; featuring plush beds, wood-burning stoves, and an outdoor private deck where you can spend evening stargazing as  crackling fire pit crackles. Black Isle’s beautiful surroundings, historic sites, and charming villages all lie just outside the comfort of your yurt and are ready for exploring.


Images: @blackisleyurts 


Loch Ness Country House

Whether you're drawn to the Loch Ness area in search of its mysterious resident, Nessie, or simply seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Loch Ness Country House provides the perfect base camp. After a day of adventure, return to the warmth of this Georgian-exterior country house, where you can explore their 7 acres of land, impressive gardens, visit the nearby golf course, or relax on the terrace by warm log fires.


Image: @loch_ness_country_house_hotel


Kincraig Castle Hotel

Kincraig Castle Hotel, the former home to generations of the Mackenzie clan, stands amongst 10-acres of well-kept grounds and is home to wonderful views of Cromarty Firth. Inside the award-winning hotel, you'll find beautiful rooms each uniquely decorated to reflect the castle's rich heritage, whether you choose a cosy room with garden views or an opulent suite with a four-poster bed, you'll be treated to a regal experience. Dining at Kincraig Castle is a culinary journey in itself, with a gourmet ‘Siyona’s Restaurant' that is AA Rosette-winning and  showcases the finest Scottish ingredients. Kincraig's selection of cafes and walks will keep your itinerary filled but whilst adventuring, keep an eye out for the knitted treasure hunt made by locals, Fiona and Phil Hawkins, their cute (and very skilled by the way!) knitted creations change location and theme with the season so there's always new ones to find!


Image: @kincraigcastle


Where to Eat:

Sutor Creek

Sutor Creek has remained a firm favourite for my family and I through many years and many Cromarty-visits, and the reactions are only ever positive when it’s suggested we head there. Sutor Creek can be found perched right on the edge of the Firth, ensuring that your meal is partnered with some lovely views of the waters (if you time it right for the sunset- you’re in for a memorable dinner!) The restaurant itself has a rustic charm; cosy and authentic, it perfectly compliments its surroundings. With a menu that blends traditional Scottish dining with a contemporary flare, there’s something for everyone, although I highly recommend (kind of insist on) trying one of their woodfired pizzas.


Images: @sutor_creek 


Dalmore Farm Shop and Restaurant

Dalmore farm shop and restaurant was launched at family-run Dalmore farm in 2021 and has been home to many Sunday cake-afternoons for my family since. The farm is located less than a minute from the A9 and if you want to take a more meandering route, it’s also a walkable distance from the Cromarty Firth shores. It’s a lovely stop off with its farm, play park, lovely selection of shop trinkets, and the best part… their cake. Their cake fridge is filled with fresh, home baked goods and you can even stay in cottages on the farm where you’ll be provided with fresh produce straight to your door.





Found on the High Street of Fortrose is IV10, known for its charming atmosphere and locally sourced, fresh ingredients; you can expect an array of delicious options, from freshly baked cakes served throughout the day to their seasonal lunch and dinner menus. Their menu takes inspiration from world-wide travels, creating a good balance of traditional and new, fresh flavours. The family-run cafe has a secluded little garden which I’m sure, is a great place to kick back with a pint when the warmer months start finally approaching. As Winners of the Best Cafe Eatery in the Highlands and Islands 2022, it’s a guaranteed good experience.


Image: @iv10.fortrose


Where to Drink:

Glen Ord Distillery

The Singleton of Glen Ord Distillery can be found literally in the heart of Black Isle, Muir of Ord. With a recent revamp and re-opening in 2022, it not only has a new, clean look, but also hosts a range of visitor- participation experiences and tours. It is also the only remaining single malt scotch whisky distillery left on the Black Isle, offering a range of 12-15 year old malts. You can take a quick visit or engage in a Brewery Tour, Malt to Cask Tour, or a Pairing Experience with booking details availablehere.


Images: @designbelgium


The Anderson

Smokehouse, whisky bar and pub, The Anderson can be found in Fortrose where Rosemarkie beach lies less than 2km away. The Anderson offers award-winning food through a daily-shifting menu that ensures they can make the most out of the readily available, locally-sourced produce. Beyond this though, they boast a notable selection of Scottish whisky and occasionally hosts ‘tap takeovers’ in collaboration with local breweries. Other occurrences include pub quiz nights, traditional music evenings and screenings of well-anticipated sports matches.


Image: credit: John Paul


Fishertown Inn

The Fishertown inn, previously known as the Cromarty Arms, can be found in the old town on Church Street. It’s a traditional pub that offers a brilliant range of locally sourced drinks, including beer from Cromarty Brewery, as well as locally sourced ingredients to fuel their freshly cooked food (with a roast dinner option on Sundays between 12:30 and 3!).  There is a lovely sheltered beer garden that calls summer’s name and being right in the centre, all the other Cromarty attractions are a walkable distance away.


Image: @fishertowninn


We hope that there's something in there to inspire you and that you enjoy the Black Isle as much as we do. Please let us know if we've missed anything in the comments. Happy meandering!

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