Ross & Cromarty
Similar in size to Cyprus or Puerto Rico, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, spans the country from the Atlantic on the west coast to the North Sea on the east.
It contains some of the most beautiful parts of the country, with views of the islands and beaches on the rugged west coast, the mountains, lochs and waterfalls of the bleak interior and the old fishing villages of the east giving great scope to the landscape photographer. With a population of only 50,000, it is mainly rural in character, but has undergone some development in recent decades due to the oil boom.
Older industries revolve around farming and fishing, and of course whisky distilling. The earliest Scottish distillery mentioned in official records was the Ferintosh, which is believed to have been located on the Black Isle in the east of the county. Sadly it no longer exists, but a number of distilleries can be found in the area, including the Glenmorangie at the Royal Burgh of Tain.
Ross and Cromarty has a surprisingly long documented history considering its rural character and remoteness. The Romans mentioned the natural harbour of the Cromarty Firth in their surveys, and Macbeth, King of Scotland in the 11th century, and much maligned by Shakespeare, held the title 'Thane of Cromarty.'
Ancient religious buildings and ruins can be found in the county, from the early Christian settlement of St Maelrubha in Applecross on the west coast, to the cathedral of Fortrose on the east. Pictish stones, like the one in Nigg Old Church, can be found throughout the county. The chapel of St Duthus in Tain is where in 1306, Robert the Bruce's queen and daughter took sanctuary, only to be seized by the Earl of Ross and delivered to the English.
Surprises in Ross and Cromarty include palm trees in the sub-tropical gardens of Inverewe on the Atlantic coast, warmed by the Gulf Stream, and the chance to watch Bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth.The county is not entirely rural in character, and Alness, its largest town has a thriving business sector.