Cromarty is at the tip of the Black Isle, 23 miles North East of Inverness, about a 40 minute drive from the Highland capital. There are also regular bus services (Stagecoach bus no 26 and 26A) from Inverness. There is parking throughout Cromarty, but a formal car-park is in found in the centre of the town, at the top end of High street by the links. This is also the bus terminus, although there is also a bus stop by the Victoria Hall.
Almost all parts of the town are easily assessable, although the cobbled Paye up to the Gaelic Chapel can be slippy and awkward when wet, and the usual caution should be exercised when visiting a working fishing harbour.
Maps Copyright Ceraph Design/Plexus Media 1999 – used with permission
To the east of the Town, the “100 steps” path up to the Sutor is usually an easy, if stiff, climb, but stout footwear may help in the middle of winter, as well as helpful if a longer walk along the paths to Eathie and Learnie is planned. Allow forty minutes to walk from the Town to the viewpoints at the summit, and a lot more if stop to take photos on the way (two hours there and back, with lots of photo stops is a generous time allowance).
The path to the Sutor is signed posted and takes you past allotments and fields (usually full of sheep) to a building that looks like a traditional mall cottage but is actually the towns sewage works. Here the path diverges, with the opportunity to loop back to the town, past the slightly odd mineral spring of Coalheugh Well, and the Cromarty bowling green.
Otherwise continue up the 100 steps to the Sutor, or drop down to the beach under the cliffs of the South Sutor. This route is a rocky scramble, with little real beach but does give some quite different photo opportunities, including a visit to the drooping cave, made famous by Hugh Miller. Getting into the cave requires a climb, and a wet one at that, but if timed right means you can photo passing ships or rigs framed by the entrance and rather wet stalagmites.
However lets start with a look at land and seascapes. The position of the town, and the orientation of the Cromarty Firth (North west/ South East) means that there are clear views north west towards Ben Wyvis and the Mountains of the West, and South East through the Sutors of Cromarty. The Sutors themselves provide a perfect backdrop for sunrise, weather and ships. Low equinox tides give the most foreground interest. Seven day tidal information for Cromarty can be accessed here.
Looking back down the Firth towards Invergordon and Dingwall, Ben Wyvis provides a backdrop, with weather providing some dramatic summer time sun and cloud effects, especially when rigs or cruise ships are moving up and down the Firth.
There are a number of good photographic positions, from the Harbour, the Ferry slip, and the beach in front of the Royal Hotel and Marine Terrace. A good zoom lens is helpful, as the bulk of Ben Wyvis tends to get lost in a normal panoramic photo. Oil Rigs can often be seen moored at the service base and wet dock in Invergordon, providing an opportunity for the “classic” Cromarty Firth shot, which includes sea, mountains and at least one rig.
Whilst less dramatic than the mountains of the west and north of Scotland, the bulk of Ben Wyvis is iconic, and the hills and around the Cromarty Firth are home to several wind-farms, which can be seen silhouetted by the setting summer sun, as can the steam flues of Invergordon’s whisky distilleries. Again a zoom lens is helpful, as the detail can be lost in a more normal panoramic shot.