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Inverness Training Area

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The Inverness Training Area includes Fort George and Cameron Barracks. The regimental area includes Orkney, Caithness, Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty, Inverness and Nairn and Moray.

Fort George

Fort George, The Fort, took 21 years to build, beginning in 1747, and the accounts show it cost £92,673 which would be around £1 billion in 2000 values. The original budget was £92,673 19s 1d, but the final cost was more than £200,000, a vast figure for the time (described as larger than the Gross National Product of Scotland in 1750). After the Napoleonic War (1799 to 1815), Fort George fell into a state of disrepair but was refitted during the Crimean War (1854 to 1856), and since 1857 has maintained a military presence within its walls as home to a regular army infantry battalion. It is also a major tourist attraction in the Highland area.

Originally intended to house some 2,000 soldiers, in 1915 the mobilisation and training of reinforcements for the World War I front resulted in the numbers growing to 9,000 within the walls, with a further 20,000 accommodated in camps outside. World War II saw renewed activity at the fort, this time with the addition of Navy operation, and from 1943 to 1944 the White Ensign flew in front of a combined Naval and Military headquarters.

Fort George was also the site of one of three UNITER Buildings located in Scotland. Part of a nationwide secure communications network serving the RAF.

In April, 2008, having spent some eight years stationed in Northern Ireland and Germany, The Black Watch, 3 SCOTS Royal Regiment of Scotland, returned to the historic barracks. Having previously seen service in Iraq, the battalion of 550 soldiers began training in preparation for their planned deployment to Afghanistan in 2009.

Cameron Barracks

Cameron Barracks took nine years to build, beginning in 1877. During World War I, many thousands of volunteer recruits were processed there, as were returning wounded and demobilising soldiers, both during the latter stages and its aftermath. It also processed conscientious objectors, and was used to hold the entire crew of a captured German submarine.

Together with other Highland training exercises, the Fort George ranges and the varied environment with its combination of hills, flat fields, roads and partly wooded areas provides for march and shoot exercises, with hides and cover from the air. The area covers some 600 acres (250 hectares) and can accommodate battalion level training.

Whiteness Head

Whiteness Head, to the east, is presently defined as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and the nearby mudflats, smaller areas of salt marsh, dune and shingle are also recognised as being of particular significance to wild birds requiring a wetlands environment. As with many similar facilities, the area benefits from the absence of development and intrusion, and many species survive that would otherwise be lost if it were to be developed commercially.

Hazards

The range and training area is in constant use but the public has access to the area when the flags are down and the lights extinguished. Visitors should be aware that a large part of the beach is within the danger area of the small arms and grenade ranges.

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