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Head north from Inverness along the A9, over the Kessock Bridge, staying on the A9 over the long low bridge over the Cromarty Firth, approximately 4 miles after the bridge take the left turn on to the B9176 for Bonar Bridge and Ardgay. This route climbs up to higher ground of heather cladmoor land, streams and forests, offering some spectacular views over the Dornoch Firth.
As you come over the top of the brow of the hill, watch out for the layby with a viewing area, we recommend you pull in and enjoy the views over the Dornach Firth out west to Benmore and Assynt to the west. Then descend down to Bonar Bridge, following the signs to Falls of Shin.
Falls of Shin & Salmon Leap - a very popular attraction in the Scottish Highlands where you get the chance to watch the wild Atlantic salmon leap the falls. The salmon start their run as the waters warm from the end of April through to the end of November. They leap to avoid the rush of water through the falls as they strive to get to their spawning grounds and place of birth at the headwaters of the River Shin and its tributaries. It is an incredible spectacle that should be witnessed at first hand to be believed! From the car park at the visitor centre to the falls is about one hundred yards, along some wide but not too deep steps.
Falls of Shin Forest Walks - You can access a number of woodland walks suitable for all abilities, through mixed conifer woodlands, as well as picturesque views of Achany Glen, the River Shin and the Falls of Shin.
Now head back to Bonar Bridge, this time following the A949 around the north shore of the Dornoch Firth to the A9, turn north for about 1 mile to rejoin the A949 then 2 miles to Dornoch.
Dornoch hit the world headlines when Madonna chose this idyllic setting for her marriage to Guy Ritchie, the father of her son Rocco, who was Christened in the Cathedral the evening before the wedding.
Dornoch boasts some fine buildings including Scotland's smallest Cathedral built by the Bishop of Caithness in 1224 paying for it himself. There is also a bishop's palace (now a hotel), courthouse and old town jail. Sandstone cottages and town houses line its peaceful streets and lanes. Dornoch has some excellent descriptive plaques that help you unravel the past, as well as the History Links Trail which takes you through the streets and nearby countryside.
Leaving Dornoch retracing the route to the A9 head south towards Inverness, taking the turning to Invergordon. Here the summer cruise-liners berth, (Tel:01349 852308 for cruise liner info) in the heart of the town the pier is a very short walk from the town centre. Visit the Crazy Horse Restaurant on the High Street (see page 2 for details).
Do not miss the superb Invergordon Murals on the side of buildings produced by the Invergordon Off the Wall Group. Each mural is carefully selected after consultation with the townsfolk and the building owner. A booklet explaining the murals can be purchased from local shops.