The Black Isle

Discover all the colours of the Black Isle

Plan your trip around one of Scotland's most beautiful coastal routes

North Coast 500: More than 500 miles of the best the North Highlands has to offer. The route runs to and from Inverness, venturing round the capital of the Highlands, up the West coast and back via the rugged north coast.

Welcome to the Black Isle

Stay a while

Why is the Black Isle called the Black Isle? What makes the Black Isle special? Learn a little bit more about this beautiful region of the North Highlands.

With more than 100 accomodation providers throughout the Black Isle we have something to suit all pockets. From B&Bs to 5 star hotels, from bunkhouse to campsites, you'll find a home-from-home

From dolphins to distilleries, from cafes to camping, from museums to mountain biking, the Black Isle has something for you.

Neither black nor an island but packed with wonderful adventures just waiting for you to discover.

Why is the Black Isle called the Black Isle you ask?

Multi-award-winning author Ali Smith, born and brought up in Inverness, says “The Black Isle isn’t an isle at all; it’s an isthmus, a peninsula, nearly ten miles wide, over twenty miles long, just north of Inverness. Is it called the Black Isle because of the colour of its good dark farming soil?  Or because of something to do with black magic and witchcraft? Or because at certain times of the year, if you look at it from across the other side of the Moray Firth, it looks a deep black colour? Black’s not the only colour the Black Isle goes; one hot and perfect summer I saw richer purples and deeper golds in the fields of the Black Isle than I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world.

When I visit I see its sheer impossible versatility, its cliffs and moors and beaches and woods and marshes
and heaths, how it’s studded in its beautiful little bays with village after village protected by the dolphins and seals in the firths, and strung between a faerie glen, a tree above a well where the people in the know come to hang rags so that what they want will come true…”

Sounds amazing? It is! 

You can read the whole Ali Smith article here.

Stay a while and explore all the colours of the Black Isle!

For more information about Black Isle, go to the official Black Isle Tourism website here:

Download the map to the Black Isle here.

Here, we present a short story from Gordon Adam on one of the most scenic roads in the North Coast 500 - Eathie Road. This definitely deserves a spot on your NC500 itinerary.

The Eathie Road – a hidden gem

It’s difficult to believe, but you can see Ben Nevis from the Black Isle. More precisely from the Eathie road rising 700 feet from the seaside village of Rosemarkie high above the cliffs of the “Jurassic coast” towards Cromarty. It was here that pioneering geologist Hugh Millar, friend of Charles Darwin, investigated the mysteries of the local fossils still found here. Admittedly, the sightings of “the Ben” are pretty rare – after all it is over 70 miles away through the cleft of the Great Glen – but it gives an indication of the tremendous vistas that can be had in most weathers from this road on the Black Isle edge. The distinctive triangular silhouette of Ben Rinnes, some 40 miles to the south-east, is more often seen. 

But what is most striking is the foreground - in sunlight, the contrast between the brilliant green of the fields with the deep blue of the often swirling Moray Firth far below. Here is one of the best views of Fort George, seemingly impregnable with its 300 year old fortifications surrounded by the sea on three sides. It still hosts a garrison of the Highland Regiment, and gunfire from the practice ranges can often be heard from across the water. 

There is also a bird’s eye view of the remarkable geography of the inner Moray Firth with Chanonry Point reaching out towards Fort George. This of course is one of the best places in Europe to view dolphins from the shore – they often come within 20 or 30 metres as they play in the rough tidal currents. From Brown Hill, just below the Eathie Road, I have also had distant views of pods of dolphins – perhaps 40 of them in all – splashing in the middle of the firth far below.

To get a closer view of the coast, descend through Hillockhead and the Black Isle Yurts site to a remote beach via a spectacular cliff path. Otters live here, their distinctive pawmarks clearly visible on the sand, and you may be rewarded by a sight of the playful creatures themselves. Along the beach towards Rosemarkie you can walk right through a cave that tunnels through   a rocky promontory which provided shelter for travelling folk in the 18th century and possibly the Picts from a thousand years before that. Beware – the beach route to Rosemarkie can only be managed at low tide.  The same is true if you walk in the other direction towards the abandoned Eathie Fishing Station. But both are fine trips, along some of the most impressive cliff scenery on Scotland’s east coast.

Latest News

Laura Mackinnon from the NHI Team tells us more about the most eagerly anticipated event in the Highlands Calendar. 
Top road safety tips to help you travel safely and responsibly on the NC500


Interactive Map

Handy Information about your adventure

  • Exit the A832 from Muir of Ord to head to the Black Isle or follow the A9 across the Cromarty Bridge
  • Buses leave Inverness at least twice an hour via the Bus Station. Hop on to the 26, 26a or the 26c. 
  • The Black Isle hosts one of the biggest county shows in Scotland on the 6th of August
  • The closest Tourist Information Point is North Kessock on the A9
  • You can explore the Black Isle by Bike!
  • The closest petrol station is at Tore
  • Visit for more!