Sunday, 15 December 2013

Inverness, Highlands

We're back in Scotland! But this is no hour over the border jaunt, this is hardcore. This is hours on end through the beautiful Cairngorms. This is the highlands.
The PGA European Tour Race to Doubi finished recently, which got me thinking about my summer of working on golf jobs, including a couple of tour events. One of these was the Scottish Open in Inverness. Further thinking prompted me that I'd done all the legwork for an Inverness episode of Beer Branches, but never got around to writing it up. 
So here we are, Inverness: Capital of the Highlands.

Inverness is bit of a tourist hot spot. You've got Loch Ness just down the road, some fascinating history and some beautiful architecture. Sadly, Inverness Station does not fall into this last category having had the original buildings replaced in the 1960s. To be honest it could almost be a non descript office block.

Nipping inside is a different story, and there's plenty to interest a rail geek.

This plaque is on the concourse and commemorates the completion of a continuous railway link between London and Inverness in 1858. There's also a commerative bell.

Heading to end of the platform (where the cool kids go) you get a good view of the rest of the triangle.

Look at that. Engine sheds, a lever frame, the Caledonian Sleeper, a Blue Circle Cement silo. If you look just under the silo you'll see some Tesco shipping containers. These are delivered by rail into Inverness to have their contents onward shipped by road to various Highland branches.
'Parliamentary Trains' have a had a bit of press recently, and Inverness station sees fairly strange move around the triangle to make up one of these services.

Mmmmm, infrastructure.

Looking back towards the concourse.

There are a few pubs nearer the station than our first stop, but it's not often you get to visit the capital of the Highlands, so it's off to the Blackfriars.

Those of you with good eyes will be able to read the handy information board. For the rest, the pub has been a coffee house and a temperance bar in previous years. In recent years the Blackfriars has been given Cask Marque status and is a Good Beer Guide regular.

On the bar there's a fine selection of beers from Scotland and England. There's also a few ciders and a fair few whiskies. Beer mats are available for putting on top of pint glasses. The staff and locals were friendly and the pub seems to be a popular music venue. Food is also served.

Our second stop is a bit further out of town, but worth the walk. 

The Castle Tavern is more than a clever name, overlooking as it does the tourist hot spot that is Inverness Castle. The pub has a nice little front beer garden. Inside is small and bustling on a Sunday evening, with a another nice friendly atmosphere to enjoy. The pub does good food, so expect it to be busy.

At the front door, good old Johnnie Walker stands sentinel, proudly supporting the blackboard displaying the real ale selection. We like a blackboard. As you can see, there are six on offer, the Scapa Special being my personal favourite.

I particularly enjoyed this display of erstwhile Inverness pubs. Train!

Granted, Inverness isn't exactly a day trip for most. But, if you're in the area it's a nice city with some great pubs.


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