Scotland’s Moray Firth coast is home to the most northerly colony of bottle nosed dolphins in the world and Chanonry Point is possibly the most famous – and best – place to see them from land. I’ve visited with my family a few times and had a fantastic time seeing the dolphins just offshore.
It’s a popular place to visit and unsurprisingly, it can get very congested at peak times. To relieve these traffic and parking issues the Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council has come up with a fantastic solution – the Dolphin Shuttle. Running every day from 1st April to 31st August the new Shuttle, run by D&E Coaches, will help provide a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience for visitors.
The best time to spot the dolphins is about an hour after low tide when they come in to feed. You can read more about the dolphins and buy a copy of the tide times here.
With parking charges being introduced at Chanonry Point in Summer 2018 the Dolphin Shuttle is a cost-effective option. You can pick up the Shuttle in either Fortrose or Rosemarkie, with a bus connection to and from Inverness. There is free parking, along with a selection of places to eat and drink, in each village.
By bus from Inverness: Bus 26A/B/C, operated by Stagecoach Highlands runs from Inverness Bus Station (journey time 30 minutes). It stops either at Fortrose High Street (where it connects directly with the Shuttle) or at the Spar on Rosemarkie High Street (which is just a short stroll from the Shuttle bus stop opposite Crofters on Marine Terrace).
Shuttle route: Rosemarkie Marine Terrace (opposite Crofters) — Fortrose Station Square — Fortrose High Street (outside old church) — down Ness Road to Chanonry Point — then back via Fortrose to Rosemarkie. (Requests at other stops). (Shuttle bus stops in red).
By foot or cycle: Alternatively, you can walk along the beach from the Rosemarkie sea front (about a mile) and take the Dolphin Shuttle back. Or you can hire a bike from Rosemarkie Beach Café and cycle the ‘Dolphin Mile’. (Bikes are also available to hire from Fortrose Bay Camp Site.)
Timetable: The first bus leaves Rosemarkie Marine Terrace at 0947 and then every 30 minutes thereafter until 1617. The first bus leaves Chanonry Point at 1000 and every 30 minutes throughout the day until 1635. (Journey time 12 minutes).
Prices: An adult return is £2.50 (single £1.50) and a child return is £1.25 (single £0.75). A family return (for up to 2 adults and 3 children) is £7.00 (£4.00 single).
Local facilities: There are no toilet or catering facilities at Chanonry Point but an ice cream van occasionally arrives. Fortrose and Rosemarkie have places to eat, toilet facilities and car parking. A Dolphin Shuttle leaflet is available locally which gives further information on places to eat and drink.
Motorhomes & campervans: there is no overnight camping or parking allowed at Chanonry Point car park but there are campsites in Fortrose and Rosemarkie, both within easy access of the Point.
According to Sarah Atkin, chairwoman of Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council: “After last year it was clear the situation at Chanonry Point couldn’t continue. Not only was it horrendous for residents, visitors and golfers, the congestion became a public safety issue. Something had to be done and a shuttle bus was one obvious way of reducing car use“.
MSP Kate Forbes, whose constituency includes the Black Isle, said: “This is a great idea, particularly for visitors. It’s clear why so many people choose to visit the area and that is to see dolphins and seals. The more people that get out of their cars and share transport, the better. It relieves congestion, reduces car emissions and supports another bus service. It is this kind of creative thinking that we need to see right across the Highlands.”
So next time you’re in the area and looking for a great place to visit, why not pick up the Dolphin Shuttle?