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It’s also home to some of the best beaches in the UK, a number of which could certainly be mistaken for Caribbean paradises during the warmer summer months
One of the most northern points of the Highlands and Islands, Ross & Cromarty is best known for its fishing and its natural beauty. Wild salmon fishers will find a haven in the dozens of lochs that the region supports, whilst others may find it a charming stop-off point on the way to Skye or as part of the NC500 Route.
It’s also home to some of the best beaches in the UK, a number of which could certainly be mistaken for Caribbean paradises during the warmer summer months. There are also plenty of outdoor pursuits to enjoy, including world-class fishing, some of the remotest golf courses in Scotland and pretty coastal villages to explore. Ross & Cromarty also has a significant Neolithic history, with many significant sites well preserved by volunteers and archaeologists. Because of its extensive Pictish history, there are plenty of things to see, from cairns and standing stones to former houses and burial sites. The Pictish have a storied history and it’s still written in the rolling hills of the region, as well as numerous museums that have been curated to maintain that history for future generations. For history buffs fascinated with the early history of our world – this is the place to see it come alive.
Crossing from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea, Ross & Cromarty is a historic northern county that covers the width of Scotland. Also including Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, the region actually brings together two former counties: Ross-shire and Cromartyshire, which were merged together in 1889. Like much of Northern Scotland, Ross & Cromarty has many prehistoric sites and artefacts that suggest a significant population of Neolithic settlers lived in the region. The Picts controlled much of the area until the 6th century, when vast swathes of the land were converted to Christianity by missionaries of St Columba and later, from the Vikings until the 10th century.
The two counties were frequently colonized by Flemings, Lowlanders, Gaelics and the followers of King David I before it was officially incorporated into the Kingdom of Scotland in the 15th century. Having been controlled by occasionally warring clans, Ross-shire was officially made a county in 1661 and Cromarty in 1698. However, it left the region vulnerable to the devastating ‘Highland clearances’ that forced families from their land, prompting mass emigration to Canada, Australia and the United States, as well as down to the Lowlands. This continued through the 20th century, though a revitalised tourism industry and North Sea oil rigs have helped reinvigorate the region into the 21st century.
Stagecoach Buses serve the county, with a connection from Scottish CityLink in the summer from Glasgow. The Kyle of Lochalsh and Far North railway lines serve the county with connections down to Inverness. Ferries also connect Stornoway, Skye and the Tarbat Peninsula with the mainland.
The county has one airport at Stornoway, though the closest alternatives are Inverness and Aberdeen. Train services are also offered from the two cities up to Ullapool, as well as Wick and Thurso in the neighbouring county. The roads in the county are good, but ferries are needed to cross to the islands.
When to go
The beautiful scenery is at its most beautiful during the summer months, so it’s the best time to visit. Though it’s not the warmest place, there’s still plenty of sunshine to enjoy the beaches – and it remains peaceful and quiet even during the busy season.
Where to stay
Split in Wester Ross and Easter Ross, there are plenty of great places to stay, including Ullapool, Invergordon, the Black Isle, Lewis, the Kyle of Lochalsh and Torridon. The larger towns have more accommodation options, but a little searching could help you find a unique place to stay in the middle of nowhere.
Eating & drinking
Because of its plum location by the water, seafood is incredible here – go for smoked salmon, scallops, monkfish and hake. Not to mention, a proliferation of distilleries that make up the Highland’s whisky heritage that is always worth sampling during a visit.
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