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Thread: Invergordon Cruise Liner Port

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    Invergordon Cruise Liner Port

    CRUISE LINER PORT
    - INVERGORDON -

    Invergordon on the beautiful Cromarty Firth is the gateway to the whole of the North of Scotland. It serves as a gateway to the whole of the Highlands and in fact the North of Scotland.

    This sheltered deep water port on the North Sea has berthed the larger cruise liners such as s.s.NORWAY, Queen Elizabeth 2, SPLENDOUR OF THE SEAS, ENCHANTMENT OF THE SEAS and AURORA.

    Invergordon is ideally located to be an overnight cruise away from ports such as Leith (Edinburgh), Lerwick, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Thorshavn (Faroe Islands), Stavanger and Bergen.

    For cruises starting from Continental Europe or England, Invergordon is within 36 hours from ports such as Amsterdam, Dover, Harwich, Southampton, Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Dublin and Copenhagen.

    Most of the world's major cruise lines are regular callers at Invergordon, including Costa, Crystal, Cunard, Hapag Lloyd, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Fred. Olsen, P & O, Phoenix Reisen, Princess, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Seetours, Silversea and Transocean.

    Although mainly seen as an excellent Port of Call, today Invergordon is also regularly used as an embarkation/disembarkation port for smaller cruise liners. With the city of Inverness only 23 miles away, with its International airport close by, Invergordon has become a turnaround port.

    As befits a major port, all services are available including luxury coaches, multi-lingual tour guides, security, fresh water, fresh provisions, garbage disposal and repairs.

    SHORE EXCURSIONS

    As a gateway port, there is a wide variety of shore excursions which are available from the port of Invergordon including:



    1. Loch Ness and its' famous monster "Nessie"
    2. Castles such as Cawdor, Dunrobin and Brodie
    3. Fort George
    4. Culloden Battlefield
    5. Dornoch Cathedral
    6. The city of Inverness
    7. Whisky distilleries
    8. Woollen mills
    9. Inverewe Gardens
    10. Cairngorm mountains and the new funicular railway
    11. Golfing on some of the world's most famous courses.

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    History

    A brief look at the history of the town


    Invergordon received its name from Sir William Gordon, a local landowner of the early eighteenth century. For centuries the estate on which Invergordon now stands was known as Inverbreakie, `the mouth of the Breakie', the Breakie presumably being the stream which enters the Firth at Rosskeen Bridge, near the old parish church west of the present Town.

    Invergordon Castle
    The earliest mention of Inverbreakie occurs in the thirteenth century when the Castle, about a mile inland from the Firth, was occupied by a Fleming, placed there, it is said, by William the Lion. From a very early period there were a few thatched houses near the spot where the harbour now is. The estate was purchased by Sir William Gordon about the beginning of the eighteenth century. Born in Caithness, Sir William represented Sutherland in five Parliaments (1708-1727) and Cromartyshire, as it was then called, in 1741-42.

    The Castle, originally a stone tower, was enlarged or rebuilt by him, and plans were laid for the building of a new town near the Ness. His son, Sir John, was M.P. for Cromartyshire from 1742-1747, and again from 1754-1761. He became Secretary of the Principality of Scotland and may be regarded as the real founder of Invergordon.



    The estate then passed to Lord MacLeod, who was a Count of Sweden, who in turn disposed of the property to the MacLeods of Cadboll. With their arrival, the development of Invergordon quickened. A harbour was built and very soon the village became the principal distributing port in the north. The Castle was largely destroyed by fire early in the eighteenth century and it was replaced in 1872 by a large mansion house (left) which was itself demolished in 1928, after the break-up of the Cadboll estates.

    Ideal Anchorage
    The Firth has been recognised as an ideal anchorage for ships since the early 1700s. The history of the Royal Navy here dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, however, and continued through to the 1950s. Invergordon was used as a base for coaling and for taking on water in the middle of the 19th century.



    Then in the early part of the 20th century the town became an official naval base and frequently had visits from the Home Fleet. A typical one in 1907 saw twelve battleships, six cruisers, two scout ships and twenty torpedo boats with a complement of 14,500 men visit the Firth. Royal Navy Base
    During the First World War, Invergordon was a full-scale base for the Royal Navy, providing fuel oil, water and dockyard repair facilities (right). It was during this period that the Hospital was built at the eastern end of the Town, and many of the buildings remain to this day.

    Two tank farms were constructed, at Cromlet and at Seabank, together with the Admiralty Pier which received and delivered fuel to moored ships. The latter tank farm still exists and is a constant reminder of events nearly 100 years ago.



    HMS Natal

    In 1915, the cruiser Natal (left) blew up while at anchor in the Firth, with the loss of over 300 lives many being those of the families of naval personnel who were aboard visiting at the time. The cause has been put down to faulty cordite.

    Invergordon Mutiny
    In 1931, at the time of the World Depression, the British Government announced huge cuts in the salaries of Government employees, which of course included the pay of able seamen. When the Atlantic Fleet returned to the Firth whilst on manoeuvres, meetings of the below-deck crew were held in Invergordon and a policy of passive resistance was agreed - no ships would sail from the Firth.

    Although this is known as the Invergordon Mutiny, no ships were taken over and no officers captured. Within days of the first signs of resistance, however, the Fleet was slowly leaving the Firth and sailing to its home bases in the South. The effect of the 'mutiny' had caused a run on the Government's Gold reserves and in the short term the pay cuts were reviewed and reduced.



    Flying Boat base

    In the Second World War the Firth was not considered safe for the Navy as it was within flying distance of hostile forces on mainland Europe. It then became a base for flying boats, with a maintenance yard at Evanton, a training base at Alness, and three squadrons of aircraft based at Invergordon, patrolling as far as Shetland and the southern Norwegian coast. There were still visits by ships of the Royal Navy, however, especially for joint target practice with the Sunderland flying boats.

    In 1971 British Aluminium constructed a smelter at the back of the town together with the pier that can be seen at Saltburn. This provided much employment in the area, but in 1981, due to economic factors, the smelter was closed.

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    Oil era
    The Firth, meanwhile, had entered the oil era in the early 1970's when an oil platform construction yard at Nigg was opened. Expansion of the port area by the Cromarty Firth Port Authority provided local capability for the maintenance of oil rigs from all over the world. The port is also able to undertake construction work, supplementing the capacity provided at Nigg



    Cruise liners

    The pier at the Admiralty Base, in the heart of the town, is used by the visiting Cruise liners, whose operators see Invergordon as an ideal berthing place for providing their passengers access to the Highlands.


    More Information
    An excellent book on the history of the area is available in local bookshops. By Marinell Ash, it is entitled - This Noble Harbour, A History of the Cromarty Firth.

    Also, a series of books on the history of the Invergordon is available from The Highland Council Service Point. (Tel No. 01349 852472).

    Invergordon Image Library
    If you are interested in the history of Invergordon through images, then visit the Image Library.


    Invergordon Naval Museum and Heritage Centre
    A more tangible form of the local history can be found at the Museum and Heritage Centre.

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    Attractions

    A brief picture of Invergordon


    Invergordon is a town with a tremendous history stretching back through two World Wars and is now a centre for oil-rig refurbishment and maintenance. It is also a major port of call for cruise liners with 2004 seeing 40 visits bringing some 23,000 passengers to the area.

    The view west from Invergordon (Nov. 2004)

    Ideally situated in the centre of the eastern Highlands, the town has an attractive double-width High Street which this year has been upgraded to make it more pedestrian-friendly (below left). It allows shoppers room to breathe while they browse amongst the selection of local shops. These range from the essential food stores, chemist, Post Office, Banks and newsagents to gift shops, shoe shop and a beauty salon.

    There are many places to eat and stay, providing quick take-away food right through to a quality country house hotel and restaurant just inland from the town.
    Indian and Chinese food is also available as an alternative to more traditional fare. The Arts Centre, occupying the old Town Hall building, has exhibition facilities as well as a medium-size theatre. There are regular displays of local art and the theatre has a programme of shows throughout the year.

    The Leisure and Sports Centre, located near the Academy, has a large heated swimming pool, an extensive range of modern fitness equipment, two squash courts and a large games hall providing facilities for gymnastics, fitness classes, hockey, judo, football and badminton.

    The 18-hole golf course, situated at the western end of the town, has wonderful views of the Cromarty Firth and of the mountains to the West. Only recently enlarged from nine holes, the course presents an interesting challenge to the local and visiting player alike.

    There is also an excellent go-kart centre - Inverbreakie Raceway - which has an indoor track together with bar and restaurant facilities. Located on the edge of the town, it is a great way to spend the day at any time of the year.

    Naval Museum and Heritage Centre




    This is a new development in Invergordon and is situated at the eastern end of the High Street by the British Legion. Opened in the Spring of 2004, the Centre has quickly built up an excellent collection of artifacts relating to the local history. Such is the variety of the items available for display that the exhibits are frequently changing and there is always something of interest for all ages.

    There is also an interesting archive together with a library for the use of visitors. More information can be found at the Centre's own web site which can be located in the 'Useful Links' section.


    Natal Garden



    Natal Garden

    Created in 2001 with an enormous amount of effort from the local community, this project formed part of the BBC TV programme series Charlie’s Garden Army. Funding came from Europe in support of the Small Towns Initiative, together with the Cromarty Firth Port Authority, The Highland Council and the BBC.

    Designed to follow the nautical theme of the Cromarty Firth, the garden has become a well-used attraction for locals and visitors.

    Town Walk
    All visitors to the town may enjoy a walk starting at the Admiralty Pier area, where you get a good view eastwards along the Firth. Head westwards along Shore Road, past the Natal Garden, and at the modern Port Authority building a plaque marks an event in the town's history. Continuing along Shore Road, you reach the Queen's Dock where oil rigs undergo maintenance. If one is in port at the time of your walk, you will realise the enormous size of these structures which frequently tower over 70m (210ft) above the town.

    At the junction with the High Street you can either continue along the foreshore and enjoy the views of the Cromarty Firth and the mountains beyond, or turn into the High Street to see the old anchor and display board commemorating another part of the history of Invergordon.

    Heritage Mural




    At the eastern end of the central shopping area, you can see the first of what is planned to be a series of heritage murals. Painted to celebrate the environmental success of Kildary Loch, it shows details connected to the site's previous activities as a source of sand and aggregates for use in the building industry.

    You can see more pictures of this mural, from the beginning to its unveiling, on the Image Library.

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    Nature in the Firth



    The Cromarty Firth is an area of great natural beauty and teeming with wild-life. The many habitats in the Firth support a variety of marine life and wild birds, including bottle-nosed dolphins, one of only two resident populations in the United Kingdom - they can be seen elsewhere but are transient.



    There are important food sources for large numbers of wintering and migrating water-birds (swans, geese, ducks and waders) and with adjacent areas in the Moray Firth, it is the most northerly major wintering area for wildfowl and waders in Europe. A map showing the areas of special interest is shown right. Click on the image to see the larger picture.

    Wetland Bird Populations

    The Moray Firth is the most northerly extensive estuarine complex in Europe, and due to its geographical position has long been recognised as internationally important for wintering waders and wildfowl.

    Regular high tide Bird counts were first established in the Moray Firth in the winter of 1985/86 by members of Highland Ringing Group, as part of the British Trust for Ornithology's (BTO) Birds of Estuaries Enquiry. Coverage was expanded to include some of the rocky shorelines and nearby inland lochs in the early 1990s, and the counts were later incorporated into the national Wetland Birds Survey (WeBS). This is a partnership administered jointly by the RSPB, BTO, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT).

    The co-ordinated high tide counts have been carried out annually since 1985/86 by a dedicated band of volunteers, who are assisted and co-ordinated by a Moray Firth Monitoring Officer employed by RSPB North Scotland. The study area now comprises 60 sections of shoreline and six inland lochs, covering the entire Moray Firth coast from Brora in the north to Buckie in the east, with only a few small gaps, which are mainly rocky shores difficult to access.

    These counts are carried out once a month in October, December, January and February. It can be difficult to separate out the Cromarty Firth in terms of bird movements as they often move in or out of other areas in the wider Moray Firth.

    However, as the figures become available across the winter, it will be possible to get a clearer picture of bird movements. For example, a lot of wigeon arrive at Udale Bay in September and October - up to 10,000 or more, but then numbers decline in the Cromarty Firth as they relocate either elsewhere within the Moray Basin, or to other parts of Britain. This is because Udale is a first class habitat for wigeon, and they need to feed when they first arrive. Those that stay at Udale all winter are mostly adults nabbing the best habitat - the juveniles get pushed on elsewhere!

    Surveys for Winter 2005/6

    Information from the October survey will be available shortly and it should be noted that the data on the Cromarty Firth will form only part of the overall report.

    Where to see Wetland Birds

    Udale Bay - the Bay is an extensive area of mudflat, salt marsh and wet grassland on the Cromarty Firth. From late summer to April the reserve supports large numbers of wildfowl and wading birds. Best visited within two hours of high tide, there can be spectacular views of flocks of birds. In autumn, up to 5,000 wigeons feed on the beds of eel-grass. Late summer is a good time to see fishing ospreys.

    Nigg Bay - the Bay is an extensive area of mudflat, salt marsh and wet grassland on the Cromarty Firth. Large numbers of wading birds, such as bar-tailed godwits and knots , use the bay for feeding and roosting from October to March. A new wet grassland is being created to attract lapwings and redshanks.

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    The Cromarty Firth - the seaway to Scotland's heritage













    Scotch Whisky

    All of these venues are well used to handling large groups of visitors, as is Ord Distillery, some 30 minutes drive from Invergordon. Here visitors can witness the age-old and mysterious art of producing Scotch Whisky - ''the Water of Life''. The Glen Ord is a magnificent 12 year old single malt - a fine example of the distiller's craft. Invergordon also caters well for smaller cruise liners. The village of Cromarty, a 45-minute drive from the port is the best preserved 18th century village in the Highlands, perhaps even in the whole of Scotland. The Courthouse, built in 1773, is now a small visitor centre with video, animatronic fiures, a reconstructed trial and quality gift shop. Since opening in 1991, the Courthouse has won several awards including Scottish Museum of the Year.





    The Royal Burgh of Tain

    Just 12 miles north of Invergordon lies the historic Royal Burgh of Tain. A new attraction, The Pilgrimage, opened in 1994 and tells the story of Tain's rise to prominence as a major centre of pilgrimage in medieval Scotland. The site embraces three buildings, including the 15th century Collegiate Church to which Scotland's King James IV travelled on at least 18 occasions. An exciting new shore programme exclusively available to cruise line passengers, and with strictly limited numbers, offers the opportunity to visit two local castles not normally open to the public - Castle Leod at Strathpeffer, the seat of the Clan MacKenzie, and Foulis Castle, seat of the Clan Munro. These visits would be personally conducted by the owner or a member of their immediate families.

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