Shopping, and bike riding In Inverness

Today was our "free" day in Inverness. It was wonderful to have a relatively late breakfast, get caught up on clothes organization, and have time to write our blog.
Late morning into early afternoon was spent mostly shopping, particularly for a small suitcase to add to our collection to have enough room to bring back heavy and larger things…whisky for example! Mission accomplished!

We stopped at the iconic Leakey bookstore, famously ensconced in back of one of the unused churches in the area. Books, some common, some extremely rare, almost all used,in every nook and cranny, plus some antique art prints, and other paraphernalia. Prices were high, but it is quite a sight.
Lunch today was a bit unusual, at a small restaurant called "Wild Pancakes". You got it! Breakfast for lunch. A bit decadent too, but you only live once.
Much of the later afternoon was spent on a six mile bike tour (Inverness Bike Tours) which we had booked a while back.

After getting adjusted to the bikes, ( there were only four of us plus our guide Allison), we rode along the Ness Bridge and the River Ness away from town.
We drove mostly on bike paths that led us through " the islands", a series of small islets where various species of trees and plants were transplanted from all over the world mainly to see if they would thrive here. They even had a few redwoods!

A local carver used fallen logs to make benches and other fanciful creatures.
Our next stop was at the Royal Botanic Gardens, a small area, but nicely laid out with tropical and local flowers as well as cacti and exotic bushes and trees. It made a nice rest stop and was the halfway point.
The return trip led us beside a section of the Caledonian Canal. The 60 mile long Canal connects the Scottish east coast at Inverness with the west coast at Corpach near Fort William in Scotland. The canal was constructed in the early nineteenth century by Scottish engineer Thomas Telford and cut the time by days that it took to get between the coasts. It also brought tourism and leisurely boating to this area. There are many locks on the canal, the last four ( out of about 20) are in Inverness.
We arrived at the end of the canal which led to the bay, and ultimately the North Sea. In this area were large nesting gray herons as well as many other birds who thrive on fishing in this protected area.
The weather changed quickly, bringing in wind,rain and chilly, dare I say cold air. The rest of the ride home was faster out of necessity with some very tricky maneuvers through red and white stakes. We passed many churches as we neared the river again. At one time there were 14 in a very short stretch. Today, many have been repurposed into apartments, meeting halls and performance centers. There are only six left.

After a long hot shower and rest, our final dinner in Inverness was at"The Fig and Thistle". We had a shared goat tart,( delicious), and adventurous Wendy enjoyed a venison and haggis burger while Jim played it safe with steak.