Inverness-shire is the heart of the Highlands, and the largest county in Britain after Yorkshire and the highest in the British Isles. It spreads from the North Sea to the Atlantic and out into many beauteous islands; bounded to the north by Ross-shire and on its long, sweeping eastern and southern border by many counties.
The landward part of Inverness-shire is wild and mountainous throughout to an immoderate degree and characterized by gorgeous scenery, with isolated glens and lochs. The coastline is marked with long, rugged sealochs. Mainland Inverness can be divided into a number of distinct districts. Around the coast are Moidart, Arisaig and Morar in the southwest, Knoydart in the west, Lochaber in the south, Badenoch in the southeast and the Aird in the north. In the mountains are Badenoch, Strathspey (the upper part of the Spey), Rannoch Moor (shared with Perthshire).
Scored through the centre of the shire is the Great Glen, or Glenmore, a deep straight line running southwest-northeast from sea to sea and containing a string of major lochs, from Loch Linnhe to Loch Ness. Loch Ness is the longest, deepest and most famous of all lochs. The lochs of the Great Glen were linked in the nineteenth century by the Caledonian Canal; now little used but remaining surely the most spectacular canal journey in Britain. The line of the Great Glen follows a geological fault that continues into Lough Foyle and Londonderry. Thankfully it has stopped moving.
Inverness-shire also includes all of the Outer Hebrides apart from the Isle of Lewis (Harris in Inverness-shire being divided from Lewis in Ross-shire by Loch Seaforth, Loch Resort and a hilly land border between them), out to St Kilda and farthermost Rockall The shire also includes several islands of the Inner Hebrides, including the Isle of Skye, Raasay, Eigg and their outliers. More than a third of Inverness-shire’s area belongs to the islands.
There are in Inverness-shire more than fifty Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet), including Ben Nevis (4,406 feet), the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Alder (3,757 feet), Sgurr Alaisdair (3,258 feet) on the Isle of Skye, and several of the Cairngorms, a range straddling the border with Aberdeenshire and Banffshire.
Inverness is considered the capital of the Highlands. It stands at the mouth of the River Ness (which empties the waters of Loch Ness) as the river enters the Moray Firth. Inverness, standing at the trysting of the highland roads, is the main mart of the Highlands as it has been for centuries. In more troubled times it was also a garrison town watching the restive clans. Inverness was raised to being a city in 2000.
County Town: Inverness
Main Towns: Aviemore, Beauly, Broadford, Dunvegan, Fort William, Kingussie, Mallaig, Newtonmore, Portree, Inverness.
Main Rivers: Endrick, Feshie, Garry, Ness, Nethy, Spey.
Highlights: Ben Nevis; Caledonian Canal; Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge; Culloden battefield; Great Glen; Loch Ness; Skye.
Highest Point: Ben Nevis, 4,406 feet.
Area: 4,211 square miles
County Flower: Twinflower