Ness Islands Walk, Inverness

Written by Chris Thornton | 17th of September 2023
Ness Islands

If you're planning a trip to Inverness, Scotland, one attraction you won't want to miss is the Ness Islands (Eileanan Abhainn Nis in Gaelic). Located in the middle of the River Ness, just upstream from central Inverness, the Ness Islands has been a popular destination for locals and tourists alike since Victorian times.

Ness Islands Walk is formed by a chain of leafy paths and bridges that wind through the river, providing a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the paths, enjoying the natural beauty of the area and the sound of the river flowing by.

The management plan implemented by The Inverness City Partnership, The Highland Council, and Greeninverness Partnership has helped preserve the islands' natural beauty while making them accessible to visitors. The plan includes measures to protect wildlife and plants, promote sustainable tourism, and maintain the cleanliness of the area.

The Ness Islands are a great choice whether you're looking for a relaxing afternoon in nature, a romantic walk with a loved one, or a fun outing with friends and family. So, be sure to add them to your itinerary when planning your trip to this beautiful Scottish city.

Our Ness Islands Walk experience

My wife and I had just finished a visit to the fantastic Inverness Botanic Gardens and decided to walk to the centre of Inverness to get some lunch and visit Inverness Museum and Inverness Cathedral, so we opted to walk via Ness Islands. We left our car at the leisure centre car park and made our way southeast passing the Highland Archive Centre, and arrived at the first bridge to access Ness Islands.

Bught Park bridge to Ness Islands. Natural islands in the River Ness.
The first Victorian suspension bridge when coming from the Bught Park side.
The view down a suspension bridge at Ness Islands.
The view looking down this old bridge.

Never having taken this walk before, we weren't sure what to expect, but it was such a calming experience walking through the tall trees and the vigorous River Ness flowing on either side of us. Amazingly, this walk is near the town centre and is the perfect place to escape from busy city life.

River Ness near Bught Park.
View of the River Ness from the bridge.
Plan of Ness Islands showing bridges and routes.
My plan of Ness Islands, showing the bridges and paths in red.

The Ness Walk is comprised of two main islands. The first bridge on the west bank (Bught Road) of the River Ness took us to the south island, a small bridge connects to the north island, and a final bridge gives access to the east bank (Island Bank Road).

The two bridges to each bank are Victorian-era suspension bridges designed by William Dredge in 1854.

Each island is packed with trees, memorials, art installations and perfectly positioned benches. Both islands have a circular path that leads around the perimeter of each.

Looking south near Bught Park bridge.
View south from the bridge.
Ness Islands street lamp.
The Victorian theme continues with the street lamps.
Ness Island forests.
Lovely forests thrive on the islands.
Ness Island path.
The hard standing path is easy to walk and perfect for wheelchairs.
River Ness and joining bridge.
Leading up to the bridge joining both south and north islands.
Ness walk paths.
The paths have a lot of character and the old style street lamps and lights add to this special walk.
Bridge to the north Ness Island.
This bridge leads to the north island.
Victorian bridge.
The Victorian theme really adds to this walk.

We continued walking north along the east bank, taking in views of the river, Eden Court Theatre, Elgin Cathedral, Inverness War Memorial, the Faith, Hope and Charity statues and even more bridges!

A short history of Ness Islands

In the early 19th century, the Inverness Town Council acquired the Ness Islands with a vision to transform them into a public nature area. They aimed to connect these islands to Bught Park and Whin Island, creating a recreational space for locals and an attractive tourist destination. The Council's grand plan, articulated in the ornate Victorian language of the time, was to establish 'graceful and varied walks' throughout the islands, thereby creating a 'lasting ornament to the town.'

The initial bridge connecting the Ness Islands to the mainland was constructed in 1828. Before its completion, the islands were only accessible by boat. However, in 1849, the original bridges succumbed to floodwaters. A few years later, in 1853, two suspension bridges were erected in their place, based on designs by James Dredge (1794–1863).

Tall trees.
Tall old trees are all over the islands.
River Ness view.
The River Ness flows at speed at both sides of the island.

How to get to Ness Islands Walk

Ness Islands Walk is located in the heart of Inverness, Scotland, and is easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Here are some ways to get there:

  • By Car: If you're driving, there are several car parks near Ness Islands Walk, including the Bught Park Car Park and the Inverness Leisure Car Park. Both are just a short walk away from the walk.

  • By Bus: The walk is accessible by bus, with several nearby bus stops. The closest bus stops are Bught Road and Ness Walk, which are just a few minutes away.

  • By Train: The nearest train station is Inverness Railway Station. You can take a bus or taxi to Ness Islands Walk from there. Alternatively, it's a pleasant 20-25 minute walk along the River Ness to get there.

Once you arrive at Ness Islands Walk, you can explore the islands at your own pace. The walk is approximately three miles long and takes you past landmarks, including the Ice Centre, Botanic Gardens, and Inverness Cathedral. You can also cross the Victorian suspension bridges that connect the islands and enjoy the stunning views of the River Ness.

Getting to Ness Islands Walk is easy and convenient, with various transportation options available. Whether driving, taking the bus, or walking from the train station, you'll be able to enjoy the beauty of Ness Islands in no time.

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Following the path in Ness Islands.
The Ness Island Walk was really pleasant.
Ness Islands snake.
This snake was one of the art installations we noticed while at Ness Islands.
Bench at Ness Islands.
A lovely spot to sit and look out to the River and central Inverness.
East bank Ness Islands bridge.
Crossing the final bridge to the east bank.
Path to Inverness City Centre.
We followed this section of the Great Glen Way to get to the city centre.

Inverness City Centre

If you're visiting Ness Islands, you're just a short stroll away from Inverness City Centre. This bustling area is filled with shops, restaurants, and historical landmarks. One of the most notable landmarks is Inverness Castle, which sits on a hill overlooking the River Ness. While the castle is not open to the public, it provides a stunning photo backdrop.

If you're interested in history, head to the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. Here, you can learn about the city's past and view a collection of artwork. Admission is free, making it a great budget-friendly activity.

For those looking to do some shopping, the Eastgate Shopping Centre is a must-visit. This modern shopping centre is home to various stores, including popular high-street brands and local boutiques.

Finally, if you're looking for a bite to eat, Inverness City Centre has plenty of options. From traditional Scottish cuisine to international fare, there's something for everyone.

Our favourite places to eat in Inverness are:

FAQs on Ness Islands

Here are a few frequently asked questions on Ness Islands.

How long is Ness Islands' walk?

The Ness Islands' walk is a leisurely stroll that takes approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. The walk is approximately 1.5 miles long, and it is an easy and flat walk suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

Where do you park for the Ness Island Walk?

If you are driving to the Ness Islands, several car parks are nearby, including the Bught Park car park and the Inverness Leisure car park. Both car parks offer free parking for up to 3 hours. Alternatively, you can park in the city centre and walk to the Ness Islands, which is only a short stroll away.

Can you walk along the River Ness?

Yes, you can walk along the River Ness from the Ness Islands to the Inverness Castle. It is a 2-hour circuit walk through the city centre along the banks of the River Ness. The walk offers stunning views of the river and the surrounding countryside, and you can spot seals and seabirds between the two road bridges that run through the city.

If you want to explore the river further, you can take a boat tour or hire a canoe or kayak to paddle along the river. However, please note that some river sections can be fast-flowing and dangerous, so taking precautions and wearing appropriate safety gear is essential.

What kind of wildlife can I expect to see on the Ness Islands?

The Ness Islands are home to a variety of wildlife, including various bird species such as ducks, herons, and kingfishers. You may also encounter squirrels, rabbits, otters and other small mammals while exploring the islands.

Are there any facilities or amenities on the Ness Islands?

While the islands do not have any commercial establishments or public restrooms, they offer several benches, picnic tables, an amphitheatre and waste bins. In addition, visitors are encouraged to bring their own food and beverages and dispose of their waste responsibly to help maintain the islands' pristine condition.

The amphitheatre on Ness Islands.
Ness Islands Amphitheatre.

Is the Ness Islands Walk safe?

Yes, it's very safe, but the River Ness is very fast on either side of the islands, and there are no barriers, so be aware of small children or dogs falling into the river. The bridges seem very safe and well-maintained.

Is it possible to fish from the Ness Islands?

It's possible but requires a permit which is well worth obtaining as between February and mid-October, you will have access to some of the best salmon pools on the Caledonian Canal.

Contact Grahams of Inverness for salmon fishing permit enquiries - 01463 233178.

Is there anything worth seeing near Ness Islands?

Yes there is so much in the area close to Ness Islands, including:

  • Inverness Leisure Centre / Aquadome

  • Inverness Botanic Gardens

  • Inverness Ice Centre

  • Whin Park

  • Highland Archive Centre

  • Eden Court Theatre

  • Elgin Cathedral

  • Inverness Town Centre

  • Inverness Castle

  • Inverness Museum

View of Inverness. Miniature railway.
View of central Inverness after completing the Ness Islands Walk.

Key information on Ness Islands

  • The islands exist in the centre of the River Ness within the city of Inverness.

  • There are two main islands within Ness Islands.

  • Three bridges connect the islands taking you from the west bank to the east bank of the River Ness.

  • It takes about 20-30 minutes to complete the Ness Islands Walk.

  • If you want to walk from the leisure centre to Ness Islands, then to the town centre and back, plan around 3 hours.

  • Ness Islands are part of the Great Glen Way.

  • It's possible to see birds, squirrels and even seals basking on the river banks.


Visiting Ness Islands in Inverness is a must-do activity for tourists. The beautiful scenery, peaceful atmosphere, rush of the river and abundance of wildlife make it a perfect destination for nature lovers. The islands are easily accessible and can be reached by foot, bike or car.

Ness Islands is just one of the many attractions in Inverness, making it a must-visit destination while visiting the Scottish Highlands.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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26th of June 2023 @ 15:26:25

Hi Suhail, yes the walk is wheelchair friendly, there are hard tarmac paths and the bridges are accessible via slopes.

26th of June 2023 @ 13:16:57

Hi, Is the walk wheel chair friendly?