Local Area

The Middle Height

The Black Isle is a bit of misnomer, in that it is neither black nor an island. There are many ideas about the origin of this name, but what we do know is that the old name for the Black Isle was Ardmeanach, which means ‘the middle height’.

Although located in the Highlands, it seems much more lowland in character. Its rich and fertile land make it an important agricultural area, supplying many of the local whisky distilleries with barley. It is a peninsula approximately 16 miles in length, and bounded by the Cromarty Firth in the north and the Beauly and Inverness Firths in the south. Being low and mostly surrounded by sea, the Black Isle has a mild and benign climate, with a low annual rainfall making it one of the drier parts of Scotland.

Cromarty, a beautiful 18th century harbour town, with elegant sandstone ‘merchant’ houses, is the nearest town to Newhall Mains. In its heyday in the early 19th century, it was bustling with activity: fishing, sail making, hemp rope making, creel making. During the First World War, the Cromarty Firth’s natural deep water anchorage was full of British military installations, and anti-submarine net and boom defences stretched between the two headlands, the North and South Sutors. The Moray Firth abounds with bottlenose dolphins and these can be viewed from Chanonry Point, near Fortrose, where the tide-race gap between the point and Fort George on the other side of the sea is only just over half a mile wide. In winter, huge numbers of wildfowl and waders congregate to feed in nearby Udale Bay.