One Hour From: Inverness

A monstrous invention?

Keep a look out for Nessie and crown yourself Monarch of the Glen.

Keep a look out for Nessie and crown yourself Monarch of the Glen.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness is the largest body of fresh water in Britain and holds more than all the lakes and reservoirs of England and Wales put together. Visit the Drumnadrochit Visitor Centre, dedicated to the legend and the history of the Great Glen, and the dramatic remains of Urquhart Castle, a great spot from which to look for Nessie, the monster that allegedly lives in its deep waters, first sighted on St Columba's day, AD565.

By car: take the A82 and follow signs; journey time approx 20 mins.

Culloden Moor

The scene of the last major battle fought on mainland Britain, in 1746, which ended the Jacobite uprising. Look out for the Leanach Cottage, which survived the battle, along with the Graves of the Clans, the Well of the Dead, the Memorial Cairn, the Cumberland Stone and the Field of the English. The Visitor Centre houses a Jacobite exhibition and there's an excellent restaurant serving home-made fare.

By car: take the B9006 and follow signs; journey time approx 10 mins.

Nairn

This much-visited Victorian seaside holiday hotspot was Charlie Chaplin's favourite destination. Today, it is popular with wildlife enthusiasts who flock to see the dolphins and seals, which can be viewed from the white sandy beaches that run the length of Nairn. There are two museums to visit and two championships golf courses waiting to be challenged, set in distracting, breathtaking scenery.

By car: take the A96 and follow signs; journey time approx 30 mins.

Fort George

Planned in 1747 as a base for George II's army and completed in 1769, Fort George is one of the most outstanding artillery fortifications in Europe. Wander through the reconstructions of barrack rooms from different periods and check out the display of muskets and pike in the Seafield Collection.

By car: take the B9006 and follow signs for Ardersier; journey time approx 20 mins.

Beauly

Said to have got its name from Mary, Queen of Scots, who referred to it as a beau lieu, this is home of the Fraser clan. The surrounding countryside, including Glen Affric, Glen Strathfarrar and Glen Cannich, contains some of the most spectacular scenery in this part of the world.

By car: take the A862 and follow signs; journey time approx 20 mins.

Aviemore, Strathspey and Rothiemurchus

Take the Strathspey Steam Railway from Aviemore to the Boat of Garten andBroomhill, and drop in on the Rothiemurchus Estate, as seen in Monarch of the Glen, for clay-pigeon shooting, mountain biking, walking and 4WD. Gen up at the Rohiemurchus Visitor Centre.

By car: take the A951 and follow signs; journey time approx 25 mins.

Further information

Easyjet (0870 600 0000; www.easyjet.com) offers return flights from Luton to Inverness from £50. Visit www.highlandfreedom.com for accommodation deals, eg two nights' b&b at the Crown Hotel from £42 per person. Europcar (0870 607 5000; www.europcar.com) offers weekend car hire in Inverness from £102. For further information, contact The Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board (0845 225 5121; www.highlandfreedom.com).

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