The Black Isle, in the north of Scotland, is one of my favourite, and lesser well known, parts of the country with lots to see and do no matter what your interests.
In a country with lots of islands to explore you might be forgiven that the Black Isle is actually an island as well – it’s not! It’s a peninsula not far from the city of Inverness – just a little further north.
So you don’t need to catch a ferry to explore and see what the Black Isle has to offer. In fact many people add it in to a road trip such as the NC500 since the classic route goes right by it.
A note from the writer: Hey! I’m Kirsty and I’m a UK travel expert – while I grew up in Scotland, as an adult I now return to visit almost every year – there’s so much to see! Shout (or comment below) if you have any questions about your next trip and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
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I’ve visited this area of the country a number of times over the past few years after friends encouraged us to camp there and see dolphins. I was so enthralled by the place that any time we’re nearby we almost always go back and spend more time exploring.
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Where is the Black Isle?
The Black Isle is situated in the North of Scotland on the East coast. As I mentioned before, the Black Isle isn’t actually an island but a peninsula.
Just so there’s no confusion let’s take a look at where the Black Isle is in Scotland on a map:
As you can see, Inverness is just south of it. Once you drive over the Kessock Bridge (on the A9) you’ll be on the Black Isle.
Things to do on the Black Isle
So are you ready to see what things to do on the Black Isle in the north of Scotland?
See dolphins up close from land
Location: Chanonry Point, near Rosemarkie
I’m not often lost for words but the day I first saw dolphins from the shore at Chanonry Point I definitely was.
Friends had recommended the spot to us, but I just assumed we’d see some little specks on the horizon if we were lucky enough to see them at all. But no! We parked up and almost as soon as I stepped out the car we saw them – probably only 10-15m from the shore!
Chanonry Point is the area where the Moray Firth meets more open water. Plenty of fish, including salmon, have to swim past this point and dolphins come to have their fill – when the tide is coming in is best. You can see them incredibly close from land! No need for boat trips!
You can see them year round but the summer months are more regular. An incoming tide is also when you’re most likely to spot them. As well as dolphins keep an eye out for seals in the bay too!
How to get there: Chanonry Point is on the southern coast of the Black Isle near the village of Rosemarkie (also worth exploring)
There’s parking at the point but it can get very busy, especially in summer and weekends. You could also park in Rosemarkie and walk along the beach to the point which takes around 20 mins or so.
Explore Groam House Museum
If you have time to spare in the lovely fishing village of Rosemarkie then I’d definitely recommend spending an hour in the local museum which is called Groam House Museum and is on the High Street.
The museum highlights different Pictish Stones that have been found in the area and the history of the Picts in this part of Scotland.
As well as the stones there’s also displays about other aspects of local history too.
The museum is open on afternoons from 1-4pm. It closes for the winter period from late November till April. Check their website for more information.
Discover the beautiful Fairy Glen Falls
Location: near Rosemarkie
A short walk from the village takes you to a magical waterfall called the Fairy Glen. It’s not a difficult hike and fairly flat so suitable for lots of ages.
The walk brings you to some impressive waterfalls – the story is that the local villagers would leave flowers to ensure fairies would keep the water clean.
It definitely has a mystical air – check out the rope swing and see if you can spot the log with lots of coins placed in it too!
Taste the local beer at Black Isle Brewery
It’s always interesting to explore local and small food producers and it’s no different here on the Black Isle.
Just off the A9 and down a country lane is the Black Isle Brewery which creates lots of different beers using local water. They have a great ethos which is eco friendly and sustainable.
They used to do short tours of their micro brewery and we enjoyed our visit a few years ago now. These look like they’ve stopped now, perhaps a consequence of Covid.
If you do want to visit you can still check out their shop and explore the farm garden. Take a picnic along!
Check their site out here.
Check out some stronger stuff at The Singleton Distillery
Location: Glen Ord
On the west side of the Black Isle is the village of Glen Ord is another local drinks producer. This one is a little larger than the last and quite a bit stronger too!
This whisky distillery produces The Singleton which is shipped worldwide and you can go on a tour to see how the drink is made. It’s £20 per adult for the tour and you’ll also get to taste it as well.
I’m not a big drinker but I always love learning how it gets made – each place is slightly different too. Definitely worth a trip even if you’re not a fan of the stuff.
You can book tours on their site here
Hugh Millar’s Croft House
At the northern tip of the Black Isle is the small fishing village of Cromarty. Worth a stroll around in any case but one place we loved while visiting is Hugh Millar’s Croft House.
If you’ve never heard of him, don’t worry – I hadn’t either! But he was a huge name in Geology circles when the science was new, unfolding and gaining popularity.
This is his home and birthplace that was built by his grandfather in 1802 and it’s a gorgeous, quaint , thatched cottage. It’s very small inside too, my husband James could hardly stand up!
You can see lots of his personal items which include fossils and rocks and also learn about the change he made in the world.
It’s a National Trust for Scotland site and free for members or £6.50 for non members.
Make a wish at the Clootie Well
A Clootie Well is an old Celtic healing tradition and can be found around Scotland but also in Ireland and even Cornwall too.
You dip a rag (also known as a Clootie) in the well and tie it to a tree. It’s said that as it disintegrates your ailment will be gone or your wish will come true. It’s recommended to bring biodegradable rags – wool or cotton is good.
This one has a car park near the A892 and a short walk, under 0.25 miles, to the well. There’s also a longer walk if you want to stretch your legs some more.
Check out Forestry Scotland’s information page about the walk here.
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🏴 Scotland Travel FAQ 🏴
Do I need insurance for traveling to Scotland?
YES! I always recommend people take travel insurance when exploring the world!
Check Travel Insurance Master for quote comparisons from different providers.
Do I need a car for visiting Scotland?
YES – If you’re wanting to explore Scotland fully then a car is worthwhile. It will get you to all the best sights and on your own timetable
I recommend DiscoverCars to compare car rental prices in Scotland
How to book accommodation in Scotland?
For hotels I recommend Booking.com
For apartments and cottages check out VRBO
Will my phone work in Scotland?
Perhaps – it depends if you have roaming enabled and beware this can be an expensive way to use your phone.
What to pack for Scotland
Keep yourself dry be prepared for any weather is my motto for Scotland! A rain jacket and comfy shoes are a must.
See my post about what to pack for Scotland
Do I need midge spray for Scotland?
YES – if you’re traveling in the summer months to any of the west coast, highlands, islands or lochs it’s recommended.
Locals swear by Avon’s Skin So Soft!
If you’re sticking to the cities or traveling in winter, early spring or late fall then you likely won’t need it.
What’s the best guidebook for Scotland?
I really like the Lonely Planet Guidebooks
Where to get flights for Scotland
Skyscanner is my first port of call for finding cheap flights to Scotland.
Do I need a visa for Scotland?
Many countries don’t need a visa for visiting Scotland as tourists (USA, Canada, Aus, NZ and Europe) – it’s always best to check first though.