When I got off the bus in Inverness, it was quite bright. Most of the journey up from Glasgow had been wet and dismal, the weather shifting not far out of Aviemore. Naturally after I had my lunch it got wet and horrible again, thankfully clearing up as I got closer to my destination. Of Scotland’s seven cities, Inverness is the one I’ve been to least but coming up with a walk for Intercity wasn’t hard. It had to be by the river between two bridges.
Bill Bryson once wrote that he could never live in Inverness because of two horrifically bad concrete buildings right in the heart of the city. They’re still there, under Inverness Castle by the bridge, and I can confirm that they just aren’t very bonny at all. Thankfully Inverness itself is generally pleasant and that included the river I passed as I walked up to start in the shadow of a Free Church of Scotland. The lane separating it and an older, brown Church of Scotland was pretty and I looked forward to exploring it later. In the meantime I crossed to the middle of the suspension bridge, noting its manufacture by a local foundry, and looked up and down the river. The Ness flowed fast, helped no doubt by the rain. I walked by the river for a bit, looking at the poetic verses about various mountains scattered along the wall. The other side had a few churches and some perfectly fine offices, until at least the junction with the main road where the really honking ones are.
Neatly avoiding these, I continued by the river. Above was Inverness Castle, red, mock-baronial, on the site of various proper castles over the years, the first built by Macbeth. Today’s castle houses Inverness Sheriff Court, at least until a new justice centre gets opened by the A82. It tickled me that nothing much has changed in Inverness and in 2019 justice is still dispensed in a castle, just as these things were done in the days of feudalism.
It all got quieter and more suburban. The river was still beside me but it felt that the city was now behind. Outside yet another church was a statue of Faith, Hope and Charity which once atop the Association Buildings on the corner of High Street and Castle Street. These houses the local branch of the YMCA when built in 1868, later housing warehouses before being demolished in 1955. The statues were bought by a collector from Orkney, ending up back in Inverness in 2011 after Highland Council, helped by the local Common Good fund, bought them back. They’re all right, a bit austere but that was in keeping with the times. The church next to it, of the Church of Scotland, had a nice frontage but interestingly the entrance was not at the front, rather at the side. Also of interest along this stretch was a monkey puzzle tree in the grounds of one of the hotels.
The walk finished at another white suspension bridge and I stood in the middle, once more looking up and down the river. This end of Inverness was familiar as I had camped nearby once. I looked back over the cityscape and it was nice, the castle and even the concrete carbuncles looking good in the cool February sunshine. As I walked back along the other side, pausing only to scribble a few notes, I thought how like Perth this was but more relaxed, gentle even, maybe not my favourite walk in this series but high up there.
Thanks for reading. The final instalment of Intercity, featuring Aberdeen, will be here next week.