Muir of Ord
This small town, 16km (10 miles) west of Inverness, makes a good touring center for a history-rich part of Scotland. If you stay at the hotel recommended below, you can take day trips around Black Isle, which boasts beautiful scenery. Outdoorsy types are drawn here for fishing, golf, and shooting.
The French monks who settled here in the 13th century named it, literally, "beautiful place" -- and it still is. You see the Highland Craftpoint on your left as you come from Inverness. In summer, there's an interesting exhibit of Scottish handicrafts. Beauly is 19km (12 miles) west of Inverness on A862; and Inverness Traction, a local bus company, has hourly service from Inverness.
Dating from 1230, the Beauly Priory (tel. 01463/782-309), now a roofless shell, is the only one remaining of three priories built for the Valliscaulian order, an austere body drawing its main components from the Cistercians and the Carthusians. Some notable windows and window arcading are still left among the ruins. Hugh Fraser of Lovat erected the Chapel of the Holy Cross on the nave's north side in the early 15th century. You can tour the priory at any time; if it's locked, ask for a key from the Priory Hotel across the way.
If you're interested in tweeds, don't miss Campbells of Beauly, Highland Tweed House (tel. 01463/782-239; www.campbellsofbeauly.co.uk), operated by the same family since 1858. An excellent selection of fine tweeds and tartans is offered, and you can have your material tailored. Blankets, travel rugs, tweed hats, and kilts are sold, as well as cashmere and lambs-wool sweaters. It's on the main street at the south end of the village square, next to the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.