My Ness Stories

 

These stories are personal recollections, daily interactions and memories close and far of Invernessians' connection to their river.

The following stories are a combination of stories submitted to this website, stories collected in June 2017 during an event for the launch of the project, and stories submitted in October 2017 at the screening of the film.

 

Swam, fished and canoed

Since 1954 I have swam across the rover, fished the river, canoed the river, and caught eels at friar’s shot.

My happy place

The Ness is my happy place. I cycle and walk along it regularly, Nature has given us a beautiful asset

 

As a kid

As a kid I took a pram down to the river at the islands, put my brother in it in the hopes it would float and it just sank. We didn’t realize it would sink, we were just kids.

Learnt to swim

As a 6  year old I swam the river which was known as the “Capalinsh” across to the harbour side. As we lived by the river, my mother felt it was important that we learnt to swim.

 

On a late November night

I lived by the river for 12 years and saw many wonderful sights. The best was on a late November night; there was a partial lunar eclipse. The river was in spate, but something caught my eye moving upstream – it was a large grey seal fighting against the onrushing water, what a sight. I have seen many seals in the river but to see it at night and with the moon glistening off of it’s back was magical.

so many memories

From watching wildlife: otters in the harbour - salmon - waterbirds in the islands - to being on a rickety raft floating under the bridges. The other feature is perhaps the constantly varying power of the river - I was there when the rail bridge came down, and more recently I watched as the water rose and rose and began to top the bank - I was in a shop front office on Huntly street getting equipment off the floor. The partly built river defense stopped it - just! but we smelt the musty smell as the water table rose and forced the old air up through the floor.

 
 
 

Long hot summer days

I have many memories involving the river, sitting on the banks on long hot summer days eating a packed lunch just watching the water flow and being fascinated by the art of fly fishing going on right in front of my eyes. playing in the islands as a child, fascinated by the bridges, trees and paths, the way the sun shone through! and jumping off the one particular bridge at the islands with deep enough water below into ice cold water, even in the summer. The occasional glimpse, from the bridge, of a seal in the water right there in the centre of town. 

Over the years

Over the years the river has provided drinking water to the Town, power to operate mills and a hydro-electric scheme, has acted as a "washing machine" for so much laundry (and the river banks used as bleaching fields), has provided so many salmon for the table, has supported tanning works for animal hides, had shipyards along its banks, has been home to a harbour for centuries, and was a strategic naval base for the Royal Navy in World War One (all the naval ammunition for the fleet based at Scapa and Invergordon came by rail to Inverness Harbour and thence by sea). 

 
 
 

At full moon

At full moon where the tides are the highest, the ebb of the tide appear to stop the flow of the river.

The elephants

As a child in the early ‘50s i remember being taken to the river to see the elephants from the circus being walked into the river for a wash and splash about. I think this must have been where the fisher’s hut is now.

 
 
 

River steps

Along the banks there are steps down to the water, they were used by people to wash their clothes in the river.

Ness Islands

I love going to Ness Islands because we can go into the water here – it’s not so fast flowing, and there are little river beaches where we can get close to the water.

 
 
 

St Columba

It is said that St Columba banished the monster to Loch Ness at Friars Shott.

Otters, Kingfishers and ospreys

It's a great place to see animals, if they are around, there are seals, otters, kingfishers, ospreys, ducks, and even dolphins if you go downstream.

 
 
 

The grassy banks

As a kid I used to love rolling down the grassy banks.

My favourite walk

My favourite walk in the evening is starting at the Ness bridge on one side of the river , walk to the Ness Islands, cross over and come back on the other side.

 
 
 

Salmon fishing

There is not many places in the world where you can see people fishing for salmon in the middle of town.

At high tides

At high tides, seals have been seen following up the salmons upriver

 
 
 

On her back

A toll of one sixth of a penny was levied on everyone passing over the stone bridge when it first opened and in the first half of the 18th century, there was the frequent sight of a woman wading across the Ness carrying people on her back and doing so cheaper than the bridge toll. 

The Railway bridge

In 1989 the Railway bridge was swept away by the force of the Ness in flood.

 
 
 

The eels

The eels swim up the river to Loch Ness for their migration, coming from and going back to the Saragossa sea in the North Atlantic Ocean.

My lunch

In summer, when it's nice and warm, I like to eat my lunch on the grassy banks

 
 
 

The largest catchment

The River Ness catchment is the largest in the North West Highlands, draining approximately 700 square miles.

Coming from Caithness

Coming from Caithness, we used to walk up the river as children whilst waiting for the Caledonian sleeper to London.