Scotland votes 'No': Result in Highlands and Islands

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Inverness on Friday morning
Image caption,
Voters Inverness and the rest of the Highland area were the last to learn of their result

The vote across the Highlands and Islands has favoured Scotland remaining in the UK.

In the Western Isles, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar declared 53.42% had voted "No" on independence and 46.58% "Yes".

The result from the Highland Council area was the last in Scotland to be declared, after almost 30 boxes were delayed by a crash.

At 08:15, the count at Dingwall in Ross-shire was 87,739 "No" and 78,069 "Yes".

A crash involving a lorry on the A9 near Berriedale Braes in Caithness late on Thursday night delayed the delivery of some ballot boxes from polling places in the far north to the count in Dingwall.

The 41-year-old lorry driver died following the accident, police said.

Steven McKenzie

Highlands and Islands reporter

In Inverness, the fast food outlets were doing a roaring trade in early morning sales of caffeine.

Everyone seemed to have a takeaway cup in hand as they briskly walked to work, maybe needing the jolt of coffee or tea to wake them up after staying up all night to watch the referendum results.

There can be no doubt that this city, and other places across the Highlands and Islands, have been gripped by the debate.

Countless lamp-posts, bus stops, windows of houses and flats have been plastered with placards, stickers and posters for "Yes", and in the later stages of the campaigns material saying "No Thanks".

Even the Loch Ness Monster was drawn into the debate.

A wooden sculpture of the legendary beast, a landmark on a roundabout on Inverness' Dores Road, has had a sign placed on it saying: "Yessie".

Image caption,
The statue of Flora Macdonald at Inverness Castle

Back in the city centre, another icon of this region seems to be peering into the thick morning mist searching for answers to what the result of the vote might bring in the future.

Flora Macdonald, well, a statue of her, stands tall outside Inverness Castle. With a hand raised to her forehead, she gazes south west towards Loch Ness and the hills beyond.

The part she played in helping Bonnie Prince Charlie evade capture after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 is celebrated in song.

But maybe less well-known is that, after emigrating to North Carolina in 1774, she supported her husband Allan, an officer in the Loyalist forces fighting alongside the British against American revolutionaries.

There is a story of her addressing a newly-raised unit of Highland Loyalists in Gaelic as they prepared for battle.

She is said to have spoken of the loyalty, bravery and sacrifices of Scots, before mounting a snow-white horse and saying farewell to her husband.

The battle ended in defeat for the Loyalists.

On the road below Macdonald's statue it was business as usual. It was busy with commuters in cars and on bikes, delivery trucks and buses.

One motorist driving by still had a vote "Yes" sticker on their windscreen, a deviant show that they were not quite ready to give up on that fight.

For others there might be a distraction from the chatter and debate over what happens next.

Sometime in the last few days, a Christmas shop appeared on the High Street.

Twenty-eight boxes had to be driven by a long diversion via Melvich on the north Sutherland coast.

Highland Council also had to handle four packs, or boxes, of postal votes which had been handed into polling places and required a process of verification, including the checking of voters' signatures.

The declaration - the last in Scotland - was not made until about 08:15, with the vote favouring "No".

The Highland Council area has an electorate of 190,778.

The count was carried out at Dingwall's football academy.

Getting ballot boxes from the Isles, which have an electorate of 22,908, to the count in Stornoway on Lewis involved a plane.

Foggy weather had threatened to scupper the flight from Benbecula and there was a contingency plan to take the boxes north by fishing boat.