Culloden National Historic Sight, Loch Ness boat, Urquhart Castle

We were most impressed with the museum, tour and story of Culloden. We even bought the book! Here is the short version: The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite (after the Latin name for James) army of Charles Edward Stuart (also know as Bonnie Prince Charlie and grandson of James II) was decisively defeated by a British government force under Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (the son of King George II) on Drummossie Moor near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

Our guided tour was all on the actual battlefield, and told the story with a fair perspective on both sides. This conflict is represents a large part of the national identity of Scotland, and many Highlanders have ancestors who took part on one side or the other.

A little more detail: It is somewhat on the level of what the Battle of Gettysburg means to us. It was the climax of a civil war over who should rule the UK and is closely linked to the pains and frustration of Scottish nationalists. In this decisive battle that actually lasted less than an hour, the government army obliterated the Jacobite forces. The government forces lost 50 soldiers during the actual fight while the rebels lost 1500! The government showed no mercy for wounded enemy soldiers, and Charles fled under hot pursuit. It was an resounding defeat.
We then continued on to nearby Loch Ness. One interesting fact: it holds an estimated 263 billion cubic feet of water which is more than all the water in all the lakes, rivers and reservoirs in the whole of England and Wales combined! In our itinerary, we were promised a sighting of "Nessie". The large blue statue in front of the gift shop wasn’t worth a picture! The boat ride was freezing and very windy on this somewhat cloudy morning, but again with the beautiful scenery of the area. The boat dropped us off at our next destination, Urquhart Castle.

The ruins of Urquhart Castle sit on the banks of Loch Ness. It was a large medieval castle built from the the 13th to the 16th centuries on land that previously was a hill fort of the Picts, the early inhabitants of Scotland. It played an important role in the various wars for Scottish independence as well as inter-Clan battles among Scottish tribes. As a result, it changed hands many times until 1690, when rather than ceding the castle to the the attacking Jacobites, the escaping government loyalists blew up the gatehouse and damaged a good portion of the castle. It was never repaired and remains a ruin today.

After climbing up and down exploring all afternoon, we slept on the way back to the hotel and had a couple hours off. Finished the day with a delicious meal at McBain’s restaurant tonight where one of our Canadian friends couldn’t get enough of sticky toffee pudding and licked the plate clean!
Tomorrow, another full day at Dunrobin Castle.