The 18th century travelling companions Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell were not very impressed with Nairn when they reached it on their Scottish tour. According to Boswell: "Though a county town and a royal burgh, it is a miserable place." No doubt plenty of people today would disagree with this sentiment, particularly in view of Nairn's stunning sandy beaches. A century after Boswell and Johnson's visit, Nairn was dubbed "the Brighton of Scotland", not least due to its exceptionally high sunshine quota. Nairn started life as a herring port, and this part of its history is recalled by the narrow streets of the old fishing district known as Fishertown, next to the harbour. The coming of the railway sealed the town's fate as a major Scottish resort, and during the same period one Dr John Grigor worked tirelessly to promote the town as a health resort.
The sandy beaches stretch away from the harbour to both east and west. The West Beach is home to the Nairn Golf Club, one of two golf clubs in the town: the other one is the Nairn Dunbar Golf Club. As for the town, the main shopping area includes the site of Nairn Castle, built in the 1100s and demolished in 1585. The town is built around the mouth of the River Nairn, which was probably the site of a Norse settlement. The fascinating Nairn Museum contains both local relics and artefacts from around the world, brought back by local adventurers.
Each year in August Nairn hosts a Highland Games event. Highland Games are an enduring feature of Scotland. Held in a number of venues around the country, they are like a Scottish version of the Olympics, with such riveting events as the "tossing of the caber", during which a long pole made of pine is hoisted into the air, or the "hammer throw", which involves whirling a metal ball around the head and tossing it over the shoulder. The Games are preceded by the rousing sight of bagpipers parading through the streets. There are also displays of highland dancing. For a sample of the delights on offer, see this video.
Map of the area.
© 2006 Gary Rogers, via Wikimedia Commons