The last day of our Inverness holiday (18.3.2011) and we hadn't got a plan. G/F quite fancied a wildlife-spotting boat trip, but a quick visit to the tourist info indicated we were a month too early. But the helpful info person suggested a walk along the coast on The Black Isle, a few miles northwest of Inverness. Being a tourist info place, they sold me the relevant Explorer 1/25000 map as well, and thus equipped off we headed to Rosemarkie.
Rosemarkie village is famed for its little museum boasting a collection of Pictish symbol stones and cross slabs, but March isn't the time to visit, cos it's not open. Never mind, the sun is shining on the Moray Firth - despite the deep snow still lying over the hills along the Great Glen to the south - and we headed off along the coast path with a feeling that we could be in Cornwall.
At the northern end of Rosemarkie Bay, the beach meets a little stream, filtered through an impressive waterfall just inland, flowing out into the Firth. At this point the cliffs jut out, cutting off any further progress if the tide is in (as it was when we arrived). But just before that, the OS shows "Caird's Cave", so we have a quick shufty.
The cave is a low, shallow cut into the vertical cliff face, itself a lovely pinky colour, its strata tipped up to a 45 degree angle by ancient upheaval. Nothing much to see in truth, but on returning home I find that the cave has yielded finds dating back to the Neolithic.
There are more caves further along the coastline, but time and tide are not on our side and we mess about on the rocks for a while, then look for interesting pebbles (some nice orange quartz about here) before heading back towards Rosemarkie. From there we carry on round Chanonry Point to Fortrose, where a sudden downpour makes us beat a hasty retreat back to Inverness.
Thanks to the lady in the tourist info, we wouldn't have come this way without her suggestion and it proved to be a lovely spot on a sunny day.