Scotland, Europe, the world

North country by

Discovering the untapped romantic treasures of Inverness. Words: Ruth Hedges

here are some names in Scotland that just exude

romance. And being in a train station hearing ‘Kyle of

Lochalsh‘. ‘()ban‘ or ‘l‘ort William' is like the sirens

beckoning. There’s something alluring about the sound of

them. and exciting about the thought of engines carving across the country to get there. Wouldn't it be great to hop on one. pull out of the city. speed through the mountains and step out where the air is clean?

And why not? It's not so unrealistic. Of course. that‘s when trains run smoothly. but practicalities aside. when l was given the chance of a weekend away up north. I jumped at it.

Admittedly. lnverness didn’t stir quite such a potion of

thoughts. but beggars can’t he choosers. And then I looked at a map. read up a bit and discovered that lnvemess is surrounded by beaches. lochs. mountains. locations for super star weddings and it‘s only three-and-a-half hours away from lidinburgh or Glasgow by train. So. leaving on a Friday after work with an able-bodied man on tow was as easy as an after-work bevvy.

Arriving just in time to join the lnvershnekie drinkers for last orders. we politely declined. With the prospect of our hotel a few miles out of town. on the shores of the Beauly liirth. with a four poster bed and orders to he romantic. it seemed only right . . .

Next morning. the most striking thing was the silence. Not a sound, not a whisper as the low winter sun cast its first light

across the bay. Magic. Apparently this pzut of Scotland is one of

the sunniest in the country I wasn‘t holding my breath for late November notoriously grey -~ but here. a remarkable sun lit up the sea and land with electric effect. Driving along in our little hire car. we set out in Madonna‘s footsteps to Domoch about 40 miles north of lnvemess. with the trees and rocks aglow. Domoch was base camp for Madge. Guy and her entourage before the big day. and this weekend it had a gently bustling

92 THE LIST 2—16 Jan 2003

feel. Large and grand looking. the Castle Hotel was surprisingly cosy. A huge open fire and cat provided a welcome spot for lunch. There was only one thing left to do stroll along the sweeping. golden beach. Not a soul in sight. Waves crashing at the shore and the ebb sucking back into the sea. Smoke. noise. and stress were a lifetime away. And as the pale wintry light gradually faded. darkness crept upon us. Time to get back on the road and retreat to the world of hotels. baths and dinner.

Sunday. the day where in the Presbyterian west rest and prayer is still widely observed. we managed to book a pony trek over the hills above Loch Ness. The views were terrific and I managed to stay upright despite my spherical horse lurching me round its belly. With only a few hours left. the map revealed that the (‘ulloden battlefield was just up the road. My companions and my Scottish and English roots would be reawakened: it could all end in slaughter. Taking positions on opposing lines. Jacobite ancestry confronted Government stock. It had been going so well but you can’t deny history. can you? That is. until we read the small print and learned that the final English defeat of Scottish troops was not so simple. On that fateful day. Scots had fought Scots. some Highland clans even fought Jacobites. and Bonnie Prince Charlie was originally French. So. there was to be no show down after all. We decided to have a cuppa instead. How very British.

Visit for further details on romantic breaks in Scotland. We stayed in Bunchrew House Hotel, 01463 234917. Visit their website at

Next morning, the most striking thing was the silence. Not a sound,nota whisper.