Invergordon Tourism Alliance
Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I change money?

The Highland Gift Company shop on the West Harbour (where passengers can exit the port area on foot) can exchange euros and dollars. Limited money exchange is also available in the post office within the Spar store in the High Street in Invergordon. Some local shops will also take euros/dollars.

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Where can I find wifi?

WiFi access is limited in Invergordon but is available in a number of outlets for a small fee. Just ask our Oystercatcher Hosts and they will happily provide you with a list of locations.

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Chimneys: What are those things on all the roofs? Why are there so many of them?

Chimneys They are chimneys, most of these houses had a separate fire for each room and each chimney is for each fire, in the house.

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‘Yellow Legs’: I saw these yellow structures just inside the mouth of the Cromarty Firth, what are they?

Yellow Legs They are what remains of the Conoco Hutton TLP which was the first Tension Leg Platform built for the North Sea oil industry. The 20,000 ton hull was built at Nigg, across the Firth from where the ‘legs’ now stand, and the 25,000 ton deck was built at Ardersier, just round the coast. The sections were taken out into the Moray Firth to be matched up. The rig produced oil from the Hutton field, off Shetland, from 1984 to 2002. The ‘legs’ returned to the Cromarty Firth in 2009, having been decommissioned from work in Murmansk, Russia – and are still there! Apparently the hull had been on its way from Murmansk to Cadiz in Spain for renovation and conversion into a deepwater rig to be used in the Gulf of Mexico. However, against the backdrop of the global economic crisis at the time, it seems the deal was shelved and the tow was halted in the Cromarty Firth. During construction of the TLP the locally famous “Orange Juice Strike” took place. Because of the horrendous conditions which had to be endured during the build – especially with the heat required even before welding could commence - orange juice and salt tablets were supplied but the employers started diluting the orange juice until it was practically water. The strike lasted nearly six weeks before the workers got a decent wage for the work they were doing - and decent orange juice!

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Yellow Fields: There seems to be a lot of yellow fields, what are they?

Oild seed rape Oilseed rape (canola) is widely grown in the area and it produces these bright yellow flowers in the spring. It is grown for the production of animal feeds, edible vegetable oils, and to a lesser extent biodiesel.

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Yellow Bushes: I have noticed these very yellow bushes, what are they?

Broom There are two forms of the shrub – one called Common Broom which has straight, slender bright green branches, tough and very flexible, smooth and prominently angled. The large bright yellow, papilionaceous, fragrant flowers, in bloom from April to July, are borne on auxiliary footstalks, and are succeeded by oblong, flattened pods, hairy on the edges, but smooth on the sides. They are nearly black when mature. They burst with a sharp report when the seeds are ripe and the continuous crackling of the bursting seed-vessels on a hot, sunny July day is readily noticeable. The flowers have a great attraction for bees, they contain no honey, but abundance of pollen.

The other shrub is called Gorse, or Whin, and is a dense, much branched, stunted bush. It is evergreen, but is not very hardy and has been known to perish in severe frosts. The stems are hairy and spiky. The golden-yellow flowers have a powerful scent, perfuming the air. They open from early spring right up to August, or even later, but the bushes are to be found in blossom, here and there practically all the year round, hence the old saying:

'When Gorse is out of bloom,
Kissing's out of season,'

and an old custom in some parts of the country of inserting a spray of Gorse in the bridal bouquet, is an allusion to this.

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Black Tanks: Those black tanks at the back of the town, what are they used for? Whisky?

Black Tanks These tanks were used by the Navy for the storage of oil fuel and water and were in use up to the time the Navy finally withdrew from the town in the early 1990’s. The tanks were bombed in February 1941 by a low-flying German aircraft. Fortunately only one tank, number 13, was hit, causing the thick black oil to flood the railway station and temporarily disrupt railway services. A bomb was also dropped at a farm near the pipeline to Inchindown, killing a sheep. Following this the fuel tanks were protected by thick blast-proof brick walls, but this has since been removed. The oil has caused the area surrounding them to become contaminated and the cost of demolition and de-contaminating the ground is prohibitive.

No they are not used to store whisky -just a little further back from the town on the other side of the railway there are warehouses and within them at any given time Invergordon Distillery have stored 1,000,000 barrels of our liquid gold.

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Oystercatcher Birds: Those birds are making a lot of noise, what kind of birds are they? What is the black and white bird with the orange beak called?

These are oystercatchers, wading birds commonly found along our coastline. They are large, obvious, and noisy birds, with massive long orange or red bills used for smashing or prying open molluscs, hence the nickname ‘mussel pickers’. Now you’ll also know where the Oystercatcher Hosts got their name!

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Oil Rigs: Are those rigs drilling for oil? Why are those rigs so close to the town?

Oil Rig The port is a very important inspection, repair and maintenance centre for the North Sea. However the ones lying off-shore in the firth are “cold stacked” due to the lack of operations in the North Sea and beyond. Some of the rigs closest to the town are being repaired and will eventually return to active operations.

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Employment: What is the main employment is this area?

There a several medium sized employers in the area: Global Energy Group employs around 3,500 people worldwide with a large number of them in this area. It is currently the largest private employer in the Highlands. They also have several contractors also employed in the Oil/Gas Industry and are now looking to diversify to the renewable energy section, wind turbines etc.

Although we have a few distilleries in the area they are not considered to be major employers.

Agriculture is a big employer although again with the progress in the machinery involved, fewer and fewer humans are required!!

We have Europe’s largest nail varnish manufacturer in the town and they employ over 100 full time staff.

Balcas is a large wood pellet producer, so they also employ many people in the forestry industry.

One of the lesser known employers in Invergordon is a jigsaw manufacturer, which is a bit of a puzzle!!

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What is the structure on the top of the hill just south of Invergordon?

Cnoc Fyrish Standing tall over Alness, Cnoc Fyrish rises to 1,478 feet. The imposing monument, at the summit, was built in the 1780’s. It is said to replicate the Gates of Negapatam, a coastal fortress near Madras in India, which General Sir Hector Munro, 8th of Novar (who was raised on the estate) had captured from the Dutch and their Indian allies around 1781. On his return home from India, and as the local population were being cleared off their land, employment was a problem and so it was allegedly built to give the locals some work. It was said that Sir Hector rolled stones from the top of the hill to the bottom, thereby extending the amount of time worked and paying the labourers for additional hours.

Walking to the top of Cnoc Fyrish


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Why does Scotland have two flags?

Scottish flags When St Andrew, one of the Apostles, was being crucified by the Romans, he is said to have asked to be placed on a cross which was a different shape from that of Jesus. His relics (bones) were said to have been brought to Scotland after St Regulus had a vision telling him to take them to a far-off land. He landed at a place called Muckros, later called Kilrymont and, later still, renamed St Andrews.

According to legend, before a 9th or 10th century battle between a combined Picts and Scots army and the Anglo-Saxon King of Northumbria at Athelstaneford in East Lothian, a formation of white clouds in the form of the cross of St Andrew appeared in the blue sky.

The Northumbrians were defeated and St Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. The white cross on a blue background later became the national flag of Scotland. In the 14th century many Scottish foot soldiers had a white cross on their tunics but it was not until the 15th century that the national flag came into widespread use.

Technically, only the white cross is called a "Saltire" but that name is often applied to the whole flag.

While the origins may be improbable, the Scottish flag is regarded as one of the oldest country flags still in existence.

After King James VI of Scotland also became King of England in 1603, he tried to introduce a flag with the white cross of St Andrew and the blue background along with the red cross of St George. The Scottish Parliament angrily rejected it! In 1801, the red cross of St Patrick was incorporated into the "Union Jack" and official buildings in Scotland were then required to fly it.

In the days when flags and banners were important to identify opposing elements in battle, King William I "the Lion" who lived from 1143 to 1214, adopted a heraldic device showing a rampant lion, the king of beasts, rearing up with three paws stretched out. This became the royal coat of arms in Scotland. The lion was also incorporated into the Great Seal of Scotland which was placed on all official documents.

When the royal coat of arms was being designed, the lion rampant was obviously incorprated, with the Latin motto "Nemo me impune lacessit" meaning "No one attacks me with impunity". In Scots, that became "Wha daur meddle wi' me?"

The lion rampant flag strictly speaking belongs solely to the monarch - though a Royal Warrant has been issued allowing it to be displayed as a token of loyalty to the crown.

At one time, using the royal coat of arms unlawfully, could have resulted in a stiff fine - or worse!

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