Tarbat Ness is a narrow strip of land which sticks out into the sea like a human finger making a rude sign. The headland is topped off with the third tallest lighthouse in Britain at 174 feet, a slender, red-and-white striped affair built by Robert Stevenson in 1830. The headland is an important landfall area for birds migrating from Scandinavia. There is a cliff nearby known as Creag nan Eun, or the Cliff of Birds, where breeding seabirds can be observed in the Spring. To the south-west of the Ness, the ruins of the 16th century Ballone Castle stand on a clifftop overlooking the Moray Firth.
Portmahomack is a fishing village on the landward side of the peninsula where the main economic activity consists of catching prawns, lobsters and scallops. In 1989 a writer of Victorian detective stories called Anne Perry moved to the village, later followed by her mother, and the two women came to be respected members of the community. It was not until later that the villagers discovered that Anne had a past: her real name was Juliet Hulme, and she had been convicted of murder in New Zealand after she and a friend had conspired to kill her friend's mother. When the word got out among the villagers, rather than ostracising Anne, they lavished her with kindness, recognising that she was truly sorry for what she had done. Anne's story was immortalised in a 1994 film called Heavenly Creatures.
Map of the area.