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As the one who organizes our family holidays, I decide where we stay, activities we do and locations we visit. A must on the list was the Culloden Battlefield which is managed by the National Trust for Scotland. The field sits on Drummossie Moor and is an easy 5 mile drive east of Inverness.

My preferred book genre is historic novels ~ both fiction and non-fiction. The Battle of Culloden has appeared as a backdrop in more than a few of books I’ve read recently.  And in the airport before our flight to Edinburgh, we picked up The Economist magazine which featured an article about the upcoming September vote for Scotland’s Independence. It mentions the The Battle of Culloden which had repercussions spanning many generations and is still a timely topic. Having read so much about it, I’m glad I got a chance to personally visit this important historic site.

A little historical background: The Jacobite Rebellion began in 1688 when a son was born to James II and with him the prospect of a Catholic succession. Almost immediately after his birth, a popular movement began to depose James II and let one of his protestant daughters (Mary) succeed to the throne. Within a year, Mary and her husband William III were crowned King and Queen of England, and James II was sent into exile. Scotland as well as Catholic countries including France and Ireland still recognized James II and his descendants as the legitimate heirs to the English throne. Jacobus is Latin for James hence the name for those Loyal to James II were called Jacobites.

William and Mary died without an heir. Due to the Act of Settlement which stated NO CATHOLIC on the English throne ever again, the English crown was passed from the Stuarts to the German Hanoverians specifically George I who was 52nd in line to the throne but, most importantly, the first protestant in the succession line.

His son, George II’s reign was threatened in 1745 when Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of James II and known as the Young Pretender, landed in Scotland. The Jacobites supported “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and had initial success in rebellion clashes BUT then came the devastating defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 16 April 1746. It ended the Jacobite threat and so much more. It was also the last full-scale battle fought in Britain. The Commanding Officer of the Royalists earned the nickname “The Butcher” because of his ruthlessness not only at but especially after the battle. By all accounts, it was brutal and savage.

At the battle, two-thirds of the Jacobites were made up of Highland Gaels and the rest were from the Scottish lowlands, France, Ireland and even England. Also, many of the clans in the Highlands supported the British Government. Sadly, it pitted not only clan against clan but also family member against family member. The battle took approximately one hour, but the results were felt for many generations. Public executions for those supporting the Jacobites. Also, an attempt was made to wipe out the Scottish social structure by dismantling the Highland clans and crushing the Gaelic culture to include prohibiting wearing the kilt, playing the pipes and speaking Gaelic. The punishment for doing these would be death.

We were there on a dry and warm day but I could easily imagine what it must have been like on the cold, rainy day of the battle. There is an informative information center, museum and cafe on the grounds but my favorite part was walking through the actual field and reading the markers as well as listening to the audio guide. I learned a lot more about the battle and more importantly about the brutal aftermath which shaped Scotland all these many years.

Culloden fields
Walking through the Battlefield

Culloden Battle Monument
Battle of Culloden Monument

Culloden Cottage
Leanach Farmhouse

Culloden Stone Wall
Jacobite position ~ stonewall

Culloden Visitor and information center
Visitor Center has a impressive 360 reenactment film, museum, interpreters, and a nice cafe (with vegetarian options)

Culloden Veggie Haggis
At the cafe, you can get Vegetarian Haggis. I was tempted to buy some to bring home but since Haggis is on the list of banned items to bring to the US, I didn’t want the hassle of homeland security.

Culloden Stone wall and battlefield
Looking out from the Jacobite position. The red flags are where the British were.

Culloden spiked shield
Highland Targe (Shield) with spike. Used by the Jacobites in the Battle of Culloden

Culloden Period Dressed lecturer
Period dressed Interpreter at the Culloden Visitors Center

Culloden Beautiful Skies with puffy clouds
I couldn’t get over just how BLUE the sky was on the day we visited Culloden Battlefield. I love the cotton ball clouds, too!

Culloden English Stone
Memorial Stone in honor of the English who died at the Battlefield

Culloden Stone Markers for Macgillivrays
Stone Marker where  Alexander MacGillivray was killed

Culloden Well of the Dead
Well of the Dead ~ I read this is where the wounded crawled to get water. Many of them perished near here.

It was a somber place to visit but also fascinating. I highly recommend it if you’re in the Highlands.

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We spent two nights in Inverness but didn’t spend a lot of time in the city itself. Rather we used it as a base for our drive to the northernmost part of Mainland Scotland and to visit the Culloden Battlefield. We visited Inverness last year and chose to go back to a few of the places we enjoyed such as walking along the River Ness and going to a local park with a “zip line.”

Inverness Castle flowers
Inverness Castle

Inverness along the River Ness
Along the River Ness

Inverness Zip line at the local park
Zip Line Fun

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Morning Snow in Inverness

Morning Snow in Inverness

We finally decided if we’re going to be on vacation during record cold temperatures, we should “embrace the suck snow” and appreciate the beauty of winter. As we drove from Inverness to Glasgow, we took a detour to the Nevis Mountain Range  The Nevis Mountain Range has the tallest mountain in the UK: Ben Nevis. After taking a cable car to the top, we hiked even higher. Basically, we were saying “bring it on Mother Nature, we can handle the I’m-so-cold-my-eyes-are-watering-from-the-wind-and-then-freezing-on-my-cheeks cold.”

Driving along Loch Ness

Driving along Loch Ness

Heading Toward the Nevis Range

Heading Toward the Nevis Range

Nevis Range Cable Car

Nevis Range Cable Car

Cable Car Looking Back

Cable Car Looking Down the Mountain

Reaching the snow line

Reaching the snow line

Squrr Finnisg-aig View Point 663m (2,175 ft)

Squrr Finnisg-aig View Point 663m (2,175 ft)

BLUE SKY!

BLUE SKY!

Snow Boarder

Snow Boarder

Looking Back at Nevis Range Mountain Resort Ski Hut
Looking Back at Nevis Range Mountain Resort Ski Hut

We're Still Smiling ~ frozen but smiling

We’re Still Smiling ~ frozen but smiling

Highland Cattle

Highland Cattle

Bridge

Bridge

Glen Coe (about half way between Inverness and Glasgow

Glen Coe (about half way between Inverness and Glasgow

Loch Lamond

Loch Lamond

Beautiful Loch Lomond

Beautiful Loch Lomond

It’s a beautiful drive from Inverness to Glasgow. It took us about six hours including the cable car stop and another 45 minute stop for lunch. If you’re driving slowly, there are plenty of “pull over and park” places so other cars can get by. We wanted to enjoy the beauty of the area so we took our time.

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…statue!!!

With the Nessie Statue

With the Nessie Statue

Traveling with John requires a detour every now and then to check out the myths, legends or just plain tacky places of the world such as Roswell, Graceland, The Largest Ball of Twine and now…The Search for Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. We took the Jacobite Tours which included a boat ride on Loch Ness with stops at Urquhart Castle  and the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition. The Centre helps debunk the myth of Nessie ~ and the exhibition includes original equipment used over the years in the search for the creature. It ended up being a great tour! Our guide, Kenny, was professional and a wealth of knowledge regarding the history of the area. He spoke about the ties of famous Americans to Scotland including Generals Grant & Lee. Nothing tacky about this tour or the area!

Urquhart Castle viewd from Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle viewed from Loch Ness

Urquhart Cstle Ruins

Urquhart Castle Ruins

Urquhart Castle Spy Holes to the Loch

Urquhart Castle Spy Holes to the Loch

The Gorgeous Grounds of Urquhart Castle

The Gorgeous Grounds of Urquhart Castle

Gatehouse at Urquhart Castle

Gatehouse at Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle Cellar

Urquhart Castle Cellar

Despite it being the slow season, not to mention freezing cold and snowing, it was a full tour with about 20 Korean visitors, 3 Danish backpackers, several Brits and another American from Berkeley (she said she was from San Francisco but I’m pretty sure she was from across the bridge). I can’t imagine what it must be like in the summer with all the crowds. I’m so glad we braved the elements and visited during the off-season.

It was interesting to listen to the tales from the Danish backpackers since they came in the day before from Glasgow, our next stop. Much as we hate to say goodbye to beautiful Inverness, it’s time to head south…

Another View from Our Room at Strathness House ~ loved it!

Another View from Our Room at Strathness House ~ loved it!

Thank Goodness for the English Translation

Thank Goodness for the English Translation

Ness River

Ness River

Strathness House and the Church

Strathness House and the Church

Strathness House Hotel

Strathness House Hotel

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Inverness is the furthest north I’ve ever been! Would love to go even farther north into the Shetland Islands but will have to save that for another trip. On our drive to Inverness, we stopped at Blair Castle which just happened to re-open that very day for the spring/summer season. We were cheerfully welcomed by a staff member and then greeted in the parking lot by a friendly, beautiful peacock.

Greeted by a Peacock at Blair Castle

Greeted by a Peacock at Blair Castle

Blair Castle sits on 108 square miles. The grounds are gorgeous with lots of grazing sheep. It’s the seat of the Duke of Atholl of the Murray Clan. The 12th Duke of Atholl actually lives in South Africa but he visits the castle every May to review the Atholl Highlanders, the only private Army in Britain. The castle tower dates back to 1269 but most of the castle has undergone lots of remodeling throughout the years. It was very interesting to visit the 30 rooms. Each room gives another layer of written history but I have to admit I’ve become spoiled and would prefer audio guides for such a large building.  There’s just so much information to cover over 744 years.

Blair Castle under restoration.

Blair Castle under restoration.

Blair Castle Clock Tower

Blair Castle Clock Tower

Blair River on the Blair Castle Grounds

Blair River on the Blair Castle Grounds

Sheep on the Blair Castle grounds

Sheep on the Blair Castle grounds

Blair Castle Ballroom

Blair Castle Ballroom

As we drove into Inverness and to our hotel, we knew we were someplace special. Inverness is a charming town and our hotel was ideally situated along the Ness River. We got in early enough to wander around the river bank and into town. Thankfully the weather was clear. Cold but clear. We were also treated to a beautiful full moon.

View from River of Inverness Castle

View from River of Inverness Castle

Along the Ness River at night

Along the Ness River at night

Inverness Castle Tower
Inverness Castle Tower

Full Moon over Inverness

Full Moon over Inverness

Thank goodness for Tripadvisor reviews leading me to The Strathness House which is an affordable hotel with great service and even better views. They only have 12 rooms and only 8 have views so if you go, book early.

Strathness House, Inverness

Strathness House, Inverness

View from Room at Strathness House, Inverness

View from Room at Strathness House, Inverness

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