Notes From The Black Isle in Scotland

We wouldn’t have found the Black Isle if not for a house sit in Culbokie. The green (not black) – peninsula (not isle) – lies in middle of tidal sea tongues which offer living space for a variety of wildlife like birds and bottle nose dolphins.

Plans to use this idyll for crude oil transfer from tanker to tanker threaten the biosphere.

Culbokie Scotland
The last two weeks of our half year trip around the United Kingdom we spent on the Black Isle  which lies north of Inverness in Scotland.


Despite the name it’s neither a island nor is it black. The peninsula is situated within Ross and Cromarty, in the Scottish Highlands.


The Black Isle is called in Scottish Gaelic: an t-Eilean Dubh and boasts over its particular fertile black soil. That might be the reason for it’s name but nobody knows for sure.

Udale Bay Nature Reserve

Not on the tourist map Udale Bay Nature Reserve is an endangered part of the Black Isle. Thousands of wildfowl and wading birds breed spending the winter at the shallow waters of Cromarty Firth from late summer to April.




An application has been made to pump crude oil from tanker to tanker in the sea near the nature reserve.


→  This is where the highest population of bottle nose dolphins in northern Europe live. 

Nearly 2 million tonnes of ballast water will be discharged directly on them bringing the threat of non native species and pathogens.


Fumes from crude oil transfers will be released. These fumes contain carcinogens. Chronic exposure can damage their central nervous system.


In 2015 the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd. reported eight oil spills from tankers totaling over 7000 tonnes of oil spilled into the sea around the world.

Information and petition to be found on Cromartyrising.


Just a puddle jump from Udale Bay Nature Reserve you find the best preserved 18th century village of the Scottish Highlands. The puddles were numerous as we visited Cromarty while the rain tried to stop us from exploring the narrow roads in vain.


Many old buildings like the Hugh Miller’s thatched cottages from 1711 give this quaint fisherman’s village its unique niche.



Sights of interest:



  • Boat Trips to see bottle nose dolphins, seals, whales
  • Trip with the ferry from Cromarty to Nigg on the ‘Renfrew Rose’
  • Walk to the Dripping Cave
  • Moray Firth Trail




More activities on the Black Isle

Walks, Sights and Nature Reserves


See also:



Author: Marcelle Simone Heller

I’m searching for natural beauty and wilderness, while I’m travelling relentlessly to find delightful places and encounters with wildlife. I try to capture the thrill of the moments in photography and words, hoping to inspire others with the love for animals and nature.

3 thoughts on “Notes From The Black Isle in Scotland”

  1. I’d really like to visit the Highlands someday. Going whale watching, especially to see the dolphins, would be at the top of my to-do list! #WeekendWanderlust

    1. It certainly remains one of our favorite places. Pity there is not time to see everything, would have loved to take a boat trip to see the dolphins. Unfortunately the weather was not good at all in the time of our visit.

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