Inverness To Portmahomack And Tain
ROUTE LENGTH: 64 MILES
Leave Inverness westwards on the A862. Follow the A862 through Beauly, stopping at the priory. Bear right after Windhill, and then turn right on to the A832. Follow this by way of Fortrose and Rosemarkie to Cromarty. Cross on the ferry (the ferry does not operate all year) to the Nigg peninsula. Leave the B9175 to go through Nigg itself, with its cross slab. Back on the B9175 turn right for Hill of Fearn, and then Fearn Abbey. Now take the B9165 to Portmahomack. From Portmahomack return on the B9165 until the right turn for Tain.
If the Nigg ferry is not running, leave Cromarty westwards on the B9163. Follow this until you reach the A9, turning right to cross the Cromarty Bridge. Stay on the A9 until you enter Tain on the B9174. After leaving Tain follow the minor road to Portmahomack.
Follow the route westwards from Inverness, which is for the most part on minor roads, to Beauly and its Priory. Bear right after Windhill, turning right at Drynie Park. After 2 miles you meet NCN 1. Turn right on to this. Follow NCN 1 through Munlochy as far as Killen. Turn right for Fortrose. Now go northward to rejoin NCN 1. Follow NCN 1 to Cromarty. Cross over on the Nigg Ferry (the ferry does not operate all year). Follow NCN 1 until you have passed Bayfield House on your left. Then turn left, and right on to the B9175. Take the right turn for Hill of Fearn and then Fearn Abbey. Now take the B9165 to Portmahomack. From Portmahomack return on the B9165 until the right turn for Tain.
If the Nigg ferry is not running, leave Cromarty westwards on the B9163. Follow this, but instead of keeping on the road to Balblair go straight ahead on minor roads. Rejoin the B9163. Bear left on the B9169 through Culbokie. Keep on until you meet NCN 1, turning right. Now follow NCN 1 all the way to Tain. From Tain take the minor road eastwards to Portmahomack.
While in Fortrose a circular walk can be made to Chanonry Point and Swallows Den –http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/lochness/Chanonry.shtml
This could be followed by walking on from Rosemarkie to Cromarty –http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/lochness/Cromartycoast.shtml
Once in Tain commanding views over the Cromarty and Dornach Firths can be had from Tain Hill and Pulpit Rock. This is a short and easy walk, but starts 1.5 miles outside Tain itself. – http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ullapool/tain-hill.shtml
By Public Transport
Inverness, Beauly, Fearn and Tain have rail stations.
There is a bus service from Inverness to Cromarty, stopping at Fortrose and Rosemarkie.
Contact details for the Cromarty ferry are: http://www.cromarty-ferry.co.uk/ Tel: 01381 610 269Mobile: 07717 207875 Ferry Mobile: 07879 401659 (working hours only).
If unable to cross by the ferry there is a bus service from Cromarty to Dingwall, and from there you can catch a train to Fearn or Tain.
Hill of Fearn can be reached by bus from Tain or Fearn, and there is a bus service between Tain and Portmahomack.
The nearest bus route to Nigg is at Hill of Fearn or Balintore.
To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.
For many centuries we presumed that Inverness was the end of Columba’s pioneering road. But then modern archaeology uncovered a Columban monastery on the north end of the Nigg peninsular at Portmahomack. The situation is perfect, above a gentle beach and landfall, with monumental views along the Moray Firth and north into Sutherland. Here truly Columba saw Alba in all its beauty and epic expanse.
Did Columba find a place of resurrection, a place of peace, in this special location, after all his labours? Visit the baptismal pool, and the excellent museum in Tarbat Old Church, but most of all stand on the gentle slopes where Columba stood, look and ponder. For a time perhaps, there was peace, but then the Saint had to return to Iona where he was eventually laid to rest. But long afterwards his remains came west again into the heartlands of Alba.
The Portmahomack Monastery is strategically sited. It is a vital staging post on the sea road of the Saints which carried Columban missionaries round the north coast of Scotland and then south by Aberdeenshire, Angus, Fife and Lothian, all the way to Lindisfarne in Northumberland. The journey here from Inverness comes by way of a string of religious sites at Beauly, Fortrose, Cromarty, Nigg and Fearn Abbey. Just to the west is Tain, the famous medieval burgh and royal pilgrimage centre dedicated to St Duthac. A little further north you quickly reach Dornoch, with its rugged Cathedral, missionary gateway to Sutherland and Caithness.
Helper of those who labour
Ruler of all good,
Defender of the faithful
Who lifts up the humble
And puts down the proud.
Judge of all judges,
Pure life of the living,
Shining light of hope,
We implore, being low and frail,
Trembling and wretched
That you draw us on
Through the unending storm of life
To the beautiful lofty haven
Heaven, infinite home
Of Christ our King.