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The most northerly city in Britain and a perfect base to explore the Scottish Highlands

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Inverness is the most northerly city in Britain. It sits right in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, acting as a gateway to this wild and beautiful part of the country. But, as convenient as this location is for hikers and tourists, the Highlands aren't the only reason to visit. Inverness is the fastest growing city in Europe, so there are plenty of reasons to spend some time here before venturing out into the Scottish countryside.
The town centre is cut in two by the River Ness. In fact, the city's name literally means "mouth of the Ness". The waterside makes for a pleasant walk, especially in the warmer months. The riverbank is lined with a series of churches, so you get plenty of good views during your stroll. The most well known of these is Inverness' cathedral, St. Andrew's. The building was finished in 1869, making it quite young for a church. In the intervening years, it has held at least one service on every single day! The structure itself is particularly well known for its square towers. These were meant to be extended into spires, but unfortunately, during construction, the money ran out too soon!
Another eye-catching building on the riverside is Inverness Castle. There has been a defensive fortress here since the 11th century, but the current structure was also built relatively recently, in 1836. The public are allowed to explore both the grounds, and the drum tower, which houses an exhibition about the castle's history. The rest of the building though, is off limits, as it's used by the local courts. The only way you'll see inside here is if you've done something you really shouldn't have!
Further south, the river flows around a few thin strips of land called the Ness Islands. They're connected to the land by bridge, so they're easy to get to. The islands contain plenty of plants and wildlife, including trees imported from abroad, and wild deer.
The River Ness, of course, is connected to Loch Ness, arguably the world's most famous lake. It's also the UK's biggest, with more water in it than all of the lakes in England and Wales put together. Its fame comes from its monster, Nessie, who is either fictional, or extremely shy. Nevertheless, if you'd like to try and get a glimpse, the lake is well served by buses and boats.
Throughout the year, Inverness has a full programme of events and festivals. One of the biggest dates on its calendar is the Northern Meeting, which is a bagpipe competition held every September. This is the world's most prestigious solo competition, and its gold medal is the most coveted prize in bagpiping. The participants aren't just from Scotland, either. There are players from countries as close as England, and as far away as New Zealand.
The city's music scene isn't just limited to bagpipes though. There are a lot of young musicians, playing guitars and forming bands. Some local acts get the chance to play the Rock Ness festival, which is held every year on the banks of the lake.
As much fun as Inverness is, it would still be a shame to visit without seeing any of the Highlands. Most visitors will, at some point, leave the city behind and journey into the great outdoors. This area of rugged hills and mountains looks like a picture-perfect postcard from just about any angle.
Visitor Information
Inverness Cathedral is open from 7am to 5pm (extended hours in summer). Entry is FREE. 15 Ardross Street, Inverness, IV3 5NS. Tel: 01463 233 535

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