The Pictish Trail is a route that starts in Inverness and passes the Black Isle and over the Cromarty Bridge to Easter Ross. The idea behind the trail is to take the traveler along a route that allows you to experience the legacy of the Highland Picts, a group of people that lived in the North of Scotland between 300AD and 900AD. The trail takes you past carved stones, religious sites, and battle sites that are all part of the legacy of the Picts.
We wanted to highlight this route not only because it provides you with incredible scenery and is enjoyable, but also because the story of The Picts in Scotland deserves to be highlighted. Let's look at some highlights of the trail:
What route does the trail take?
As we mentioned in the introduction, the trail starts in Inverness and ends in Easter Ross. The trail isn't huge, but if you want to visit every location on the trail then you'll definitely need more than a day (in fact, we'd recommend taking a week to fully explore everything). You can drive along the trail easily, but we would of course recommend walking or cycling instead because that way you can properly immerse yourself in the fresh air and scenery.
What is there to see along the trail?
If you want to explore the full trail then you could easily visit more than 20 locations related to The Picts, but here are some of the must-see things in our opinion:
The Farr Stone at Strathnaver Museum
Located in the grounds of Strathnaver Museum is The Farr Stone, a standing stone featuring Pictish art carved into it. The detail on the stone is incredible given how old it is, and the stone is in excellent condition (circa 800 AD). It's probably best to look at the stone after you've been in the museum so you can really appreciate the mastery.
Dunrobin castle museum Pictish stone collection
The museum at Dunrobin castle is home to one of the best Pictish stone collections in the world. The carvings on the stone are extremely well-preserved and kept in excellent condition.
Edderton Cross Slab
Said to commemorate a battle between the Picts and the Vikings, this stone made from red sandstone is striking to look at, not just because of the red and the images of riders on the front, but also because of the height (it is more than 2m in height).
The Nigg Stone
This stone is often described as one of Scotland's greatest art treasures and is without doubt one of the most impressive Pictish stones ever discovered. The art carved into the stone is very elaborate and depicts a complicated scene that includes eagles, sheep, and a harp. You can find the stone in the Nigg Old Church, where it has a dedicated room.
Specific travel information
The trail is quite loose and doesn't really have an exact route, but if you're looking for a specific route then this what we recommend:
- As you leave Inverness, follow the A9 northwards over the Kessock Bridge to the Black Isle
- Follow the signs towards Groam House Museum, Rosemarkie
- You can continue from here across the Cromarty – Nigg car ferry or follow the coast road around the Black Isle to Dingwall and Strathpeffer