Scotland has an incredibly rich and lyrical history. The sort of history that romantic heroes and stories are created from- despite the inherent violence and cruelty that was at the base of much of it. No doubt there’ll be more of that when we’re down in William Wallace territory, but for now today was largely about the Jacobites…and a little monster hunting…
First up was Culloden moor, located just down the road from where we’re staying. Culloden was the last stand, essentially, of the Jacobite rebellion, and it’s an eerie place indeed. It’s the sort of place that needs to be seen in the grey, and today it didn’t disappoint, the rain coming down in a steady drizzle from the tie we stepped onto the path.
Although there are red and blue flags marking the positions of the English and Jacobite lines, and plaques telling the story of the (short and bloody- around 1200 dead in around an hour) battle, this is essentially a war grave- as we’re reminded by the stones marking the fallen clansmen,
and the memorial cairn.
The visitors centre provides more information- and you can also grab an audio tour. We chose to wander and absorb.
The road to Urquhart is a colourful one at this time of the year- the last of the autumn colours are still to be swept away by the winds. From just out of Inverness it follows the line of Loch Ness.
Castle Urquhart sits on a point that juts out into the loch. According to the guide, there has been a tower or some other sort of activity here dating back to the Bronze age. That’s a long time ago.
As for the castle itself? It’s largely in ruins- as a result of the final guardian blowing up the gatehouse to ensure that it didn’t fall into Jacobite hands. Prior to that, it endured a rather action packed history.
It’s also the best vantage spot to look for Nessie…
Further up the coast, past Inverness and near a little town called Ardersier, is another piece of Jacobite history- although one that is still operational today. Fort George was built after the Jacobite rebellions in an effort to pacify the Highlands. Read into that euphemism what you’d like.
Today it’s the home of the Black Watch, the Highlanders Regiment.
Much of it is unaltered from how it was back then- obviously with more comforts for modern soldiers- although the guard on the gate told us the dorms are still pretty primitive.
The views from the battlements are, however, truly spectacular.
Tomorrow we’re off down to the Stirling region- it’s where my husband is from, and where he spent a lot of time as a young lad.