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Caledonian Canal looking to Tomnahurich (Bridge and Hill) in Inverness Scotland | by conner395
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Caledonian Canal looking to Tomnahurich (Bridge and Hill) in Inverness Scotland

Hard to believe that this seemingly rural location is within quarter of a mile of large housing estates.


The Town/Royal Burgh/City of Inverness has always been bisected by the River Ness, which flows right through the centre. A more recent addition is the Caledonian Canal.

First surveyed in 1773 (by James Watt), authorised by Parliament in 1803, it was not completed until 1822.


The Canal connects the east coast at Inverness with the west coast at Fort William, and uses four inland lochs (Dochfour, Ness, Oich and Lochy) in the course of its length. The River Ness, a short river which flows from Loch Ness/Dochfour to the North Sea (Beauly firth), is usually very shallow in most parts, bridged at various points, and varies considerably in width along its length and drops gradually from loch to sea, making it impossible to utilise as part of the Canal.


Thus the Canal parts company with the river, at Dochgarroch the north-most point of Loch Dochfour, as while the river meanders into and through Inverness the Canal hugs the higher ground to the west to reach the sea at Clachnaharry, and was (way back then) well out in the countryside throughout.


For the first couple of miles from the split however, the two watercourses run parallel, with the river gradually descending and the canal on an embankment. Where the two eventually part company, opposite Holm Mills, the triangle of land is known as “Canal Park” – or now “Canal Pitches” due to its current use for sports.


Between the two waters, in 1929 the Royal Burgh of Inverness built what would be the eleventh hydro-electric scheme in the UK, taking a lade off the river upstream of is now Whin Island to feed a power station opposite Bught Gardens. (‘Hub of the Highlands’, 1975, Inverness Field Club). This small-scale means of generating power has long since fallen redundant - Inverness is connected to the National Electricity Grid, which is served in part by the huge hydro schemes only a matter of miles away in the Great Glen. The lade (only partly used nowadays, for canoeing practice, and only receiving sufficient water to prevent stagnation) is what made Whin Island an island!


Crossing the Canal Pitches, a short path then leads up to the Canal bank. Soon after parting company with the river, the canal curves around the base of Torvean Hill and reaches Tomnahurich, where the road bridge is adjacent to the cemetery on the hill of the same name. Once way outside the Burgh, this location is now within the built-up area of Inverness.


In the course of less than an hour (while grandson was at his swimming lesson at the Leisure centre at the Bught Park) I had a truly enjoyable walk, encompassing lovely warm sunshine (in mid September!), old and new-ish engineering, and of course superb scenery.


Inverness – Capital of the Scottish Highlands!

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Taken on September 15, 2012