As Coastal Walkers, we wanted our July 2015 trip to Scotland to take in some of the country’s amazing coastline. Our first stop was at the Cromarty Firth, about 15 miles to the north of Inverness. Not only could we visit the distiller of my wife’s favourite whisky, Dalmore, but we could also show the kids the spectacular site of the oil rigs, laid up in the water for repair.
The Cromarty Firth is a generous body of protected water and in times past provided an important trade link with the south. In World War I the American Navy took over Dalmore Distillery and used it as a submarine mine base. In 1917-19 they built a pier sticking out into the firth, still known locally as “Yankee Pier”. The pier is on distillery land and today is accessible to all. It affords great views and is worth the short walk.
In the 1930’s flying boat crews were here and the base was used for training and surveillance, stepping up to active duties during World War II as the battle for air supremacy raged across Europe.
Today the military base is gone and the Cromarty Firth is used primarily by the oil industry. There were more oil rigs this time than I had seen in times past – you can see them all stacking up in the first photo. Why were there so many here on this trip? Were they all in for repair?
Alas, no. Whilst some rigs were here for repair or refit, a number were simply “parked” here. The persistent depression in oil prices had caused uncertainty in the oil industry, resulting in a considerable drop in demand for North Sea oil and gas exploration. By October 2015 there were 12 rigs here, with further capacity for a further 6 or so. We could see them held fast with enormous chains.
I’ve not been back to the Cromarty Firth since. I wonder how many are laid up there today?
Points in this post (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Dalmore Distillery: N 57° 41.310 W 004° 14.330
- Yankee Pier: N 57° 40.806 W 004° 14.288
- Google Earth: Oil Rig Docked at Invergordon: N 57° 41.140 W 004° 10.625
Did you take the little ferry across? I believe it is the smallest car ferry in the uk.
Hi JC – no. in fact I didn’t even know it was there. Next time…
Just realised this was 2015. The ferry didn’t run during 2015 due to some issue with berthing but the Council managed to find another company to run it for 2016, hopefully it will be back this year too. I travelled on it for a coastal walk last year and was very glad it had resumed because it’s otherwise a very long way to walk around via Dingwall. There was only me and a (hired) van on the ferry whose driver was a bit nervous at having to reverse the van off the ferry and up the slipway but she managed fine with the help of the ferryman. It’s a useful service!
Curiously I travelled on a ferry that had previously been used on this route when visiting Flat Holm island.
Whisky and rigs. Perfect 🙂