One of the real delights of touring around and sometimes going off the beaten track is stumbling across a place that is a real gem.
In 2015 we stayed on the Black Isle and exploring the area we paid a visit to Cromarty. I had in mind some faint recollection about oil rigs and gas platforms but nothing could prepare us for that first visit and the amazing view that greeted us.
Our appetites whetted we said we’d be back and in 2019 we returned, this time fully focussed on the photographic opportunities this quiet little village offered.
Cromarty sits on the eastern end of the Black Isle and sits on one side of a channel that leads out to the open sea (it also gives its name to one of the zones used in the shipping forecast). It seems reasonably sheltered and overlooks the Cromarty Firth – a large body of water with various industrial sites and the Port of Invergordon at one end. And this is where the rigs and platforms come in that gives the village a unique twist, not just an interesting place to visit but one with a truly unique photographic backdrop.
Since the early 1970’s this has been a place for the repair and manufacture of oil rigs and gas platforms with half a dozen or so usually lined up awaiting their turn - mainly for repair these days. It’s this unique waiting line that makes Cromarty a definite must-visit place, especially with your camera. The sight of heavyweight industrial structures in a glorious natural setting really is an awe inspiring sight.
In addition to the rigs there is always the chance of a liner coming close through the channel either sailing to or leaving the Port of Invergordon plus, along with nearby Chanonry Point, this is a great place, amongst the best in Europe, to spot Dolphins and Porpoises. There is a lot to see.
Parking is easy, the village has a few shops, the Royal Hotel and is linked to the other side of the Firth by a small one vehicle ferry.
So a real mixture of nature, history, industry and an unmistakeable small highland village all-in-one. Time it right weather wise for sunset and sunrise and you are in for a real treat.
Oh, and if you’re doing the North Coast 500 take a small detour off the A9 – a couple of hours spent here will add that little bit extra to your trip.
One final tip, if you are going for the Dolphins at nearby Chanonry do your research on the tide times. Time your visit for an hour after low tide for your best chance of getting stunning close up views from the beach. Chances are if you just turn up you’ll probably be disappointed. There’s always an off chance of seeing something but the incoming tide will increase your chances.
To see a gallery of photos from Cromarty click here and our "sailing by" video too click here.