7 Things to do in Ness Islands Inverness
This week’s walk is around the beautiful Ness Islands (Gaelic-Na h- Eileanan Nis). The Islands are always busy with local families, cyclists, runners, and dog walkers and a big hit with visitors too. It takes about 2 hours to walk the round trip from Inverness City Centre. But how do you get here?
You can follow both sides of the River Ness upstream and you will find the entrances to the Islands. You could also drive, parking is available at Bught Road, beside the Skate Park, and walk-in from there.
Cross the Bouncy Victorian Bridges
But don’t worry, you no longer need to paddle or swim across to the Islands as you would have had to do in the early 19th century. In 1828 the first bridge was built. Unfortunately, the bridges were washed away due to the great flood of 1849. The good news is that shortly after James Dredge came up with this unusual cantilever and suspension bridge design which replaced them. Two bouncy suspension bridges add to the grandeur of the area.
Discover the General’s Well
General Macintyre lived nearby in Bught House. In order to improve his health, he is said to have drunk from the pool every day as he believed it had health benefits. On the river, there is also a fishing beat named Macintyre after the General. There was a ladle, which was given by a Kenneth Mackenzie in 1872 before he emigrated to America, attached to the side but it is now long gone. Today, I can promise you drinking from the Well would not improve your health!
Why not rest a while?
You can see why the Victorians used the Islands for taking walks and improving their wellbeing. A local paper reported that the area was ‘laid out in graceful and varied walks … [to] form a lasting ornament to the town’. The Highlands Council now manages the Ness Islands and its upkeep comes from the Common Good Fund.
Have a picnic in the Central Arena
Long gone are the remnants of a Victorian pavilion that stood in this area. Many older Invernessians remember the Pavilion filled with music and dancing, right up until the 1970s. Nowadays the central area has seating, perfect for picnics, relaxing and enjoying the sounds of the river. If you fancy a coffee, the nearest take away can be found at Inverness Crazy Golf.
Search for Community Art
What makes the Islands so special? Hunting around the Ness Islands you may be able to see this majestic grey heron, I call him Henry. I often see him on the riverside during my walks. Even if you don’t see him he will be there. Watch out for seals following the salmon upriver. And if you’re very lucky you may even get a glimpse of an otter.
Take an Instagram Worthy Photo
You can see Rhododendron an invading species all over Scotland in the summer months. Native species of plants begin to take over where the Rhododendron is cleared.
However, The Islands aren’t just for the summer months. Remember to check out what’s happening here in the winter. See ghosts and guisers in the spooky Halloween themed October weekend. Marvel at the fairy lights of the winter festival. Everybody can enjoy the Islands so don’t forget to visit the next time you have an hour or two to spare.