“The best dolphin view point in Scotland!”
Meet Charlie Phillips – Professional wildlife photographer, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Field Officer (he studies dolphins for a living!). Charlie and his wife Susan also own the Aurorabearealis Art, Craft & Photography Studio in the village of North Kessock.
“Eilean Dhubh” or the Black Isle as it’s known is technically not an island as such, but certainly feels like one with an almost “Scotland in Miniature” thing going on from sandy beaches to high craggy cliffs, thick forest, wide open farmland and wildlife…lots of wildlife – if you know where to look.
The sea around the Black Isle is nowadays world famous for it’s dolphin spotting possibilities – yes, you heard right… dolphins! There are around 200 Bottlenose dolphins that live all year in the chilly waters of the Moray Firth and around the East Coast of Scotland and half this population are seen regularly along the Black Isle coastline, especially in the spring and summer months. You can watch these amazing dolphins hunting and playing from shore or from well behaved, award winning tour boats – the choice is yours.
Land watching for Bottlenose dolphins is great from the seafront at the village of North Kessock, just across the water from Inverness and the dolphins are regularly seen in the fast tide right in front of the Aurorabearealis Art & Craft Studio where you can also get wildlife watching advice such as tide times (very important for dolphin watching) and the sharp eyed amongst you might also spot local Seals, Otters, Red Kites and even Ospreys as well as dolphins at certain times of the year.
Further onto the Black Isle, coming off the A9 trunk road at the B9161 Munlochy road then onto the A832 you come through the towns of Avoch and then Fortrose, Fortrose has a mile long peninsula jutting out into the sea from the town itself called Chanonry Point, and from the beach in front of the Lighthouse you can often see the local dolphins hunting salmon a few metres away in the fast, deep and turbulent water around the very tip of the Point on a rising or flooding tide – it’s amazing.
Carry on up the A832 to the historic town of Cromarty and near the harbour there is Ecoventures, a superb 5 star Dolphin and wildlife watching boat trip that can whisk you out into the Cromarty Firth and beyond on their two Rigid Inflatable Craft where dolphins, seabird colonies and possibly a whale or two could be enjoyed!
Chanonry Point has its very only dolphin shuttle bus as of April 2018!
The 26A/B/C Stagecoach service operates to and from Inverness to the Black Isle (check the Stagecoach website for timetables.) Disembark in Fortrose at the 2nd stop passed the main high street; by the old church. From here pick up the Dolphin Shuttle for Chanonry Point which runs from 1st April until 28th August 2018 (09:47 –16:30 every 30 minutes.) If your visit begins in Rosemarkie the Dolphin Shuttle starts at Marine Terrace on the beach front. For bus times check here.
Photos: © Charlie Phillips/WDC