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This sprawling county north of Inverness is divided into Wester and Easter Ross, both of which have their own particular charms. The east coast incorporates Cromarty and the lovely Black Isle peninsula, while the west has its spectacular coastline, including the Applecross peninsula and the wonderful beaches there and at Gairloch and Gruinard.

Inland too there is wonderful countryside of mountains and tumbling rivers and such delights as the picturesque spa village of Strathpeffer - in short, something for everyone.

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So Much to Explore

Turning eastwards at the Tore roundabout just a few miles north of Inverness is the main route of access to the Black Isle, which is a peninsula rather than an island, and one which is famous for its birdlife. It is seldom that some of the recently reintroduced red kites, recognisable by their notched tails, cannot be seen soaring in the air near the roundabout.

For a rich selection of wading birds, the bay at Munlochy is the place. The peninsula has several charming villages, such as Avoch and Fortrose/Rosemarkie, while nearby Chanonry Point is one of the prime dolphin watching sites in all of Europe.

The Dornoch Firth

    At the end of the peninsula is the sleepy and enchanting village of Cromarty, and as a further bonus, the peninsula has its own brewery and a distillery at Muir of Ord.

    Further to the north, the main A9 bypasses further attractive villages with an equally attractive hinterland behind them and leads up to Tain and the southern shores and sandy beaches of the Dornoch Firth, which forms the border with Sutherland. The highest mountain of this part of the world is Ben Wyvis near Garve, which is a fairly easy ascent and affords magnificent views.

    While the craggy peaks of Easter Ross's western counterpart may seem lacking in comparison, it still has plenty of lovely countryside in terms of woodlands and moorlands, quiet river valleys, tumbling waterfalls and glorious beaches, to explore.

    Achiltibuie | Applecross | Lochcarron | Plockton | Torridon