Monday, April 29, 2024

Pitlochry, Scotland

The next morning our Cosmos bus tour of the "Highlights of Ireland and Scotland," drove north from Culloden toward PitlochryWe drove past colorful pastoral scenery which was aglow in autumnal splendor.  I could not resist taking many photos through the bus window!

 Ruins of the Ruthven Barracks

We passed Ruthven Barracks in the Badenoch area, They are the best preserved of the four barracks built in 1719 after the 1715 Jacobite rising. Set on an old castle mound, the complex comprises two large three-story blocks occupying two sides of the enclosure, each with two rooms per floor. The barracks and enclosing walls were built with loopholes for musket firing, and bastion towers were built at opposite corners. Destroyed by Jacobites following their retreat after the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

When our bus stopped at Pitlochry we had a few hours to explore the town. Pitlochry is largely a Victorian-era town, which developed into a tourist resort after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the area in 1842 and bought a highland estate at Balmoral, and the arrival of the railway in 1863. It remains a popular tourist resort today and is particularly known for its Pitlochry Festival Theatre, salmon ladder (click here to read about that unusual attraction), and as a center for hiking as it is surrounded by mountains and world-class golf. 

My husband and I were charmed by the town! As we walked by a canal a fellow tourist on our tour bus, who was visiting from New Zealand, offered to take our photos.

Colorful sights in town...

...and much window shopping!

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This Scottish Kilt made from hangers in one store window was very clever!

I was excited to visit the John Muir Trust Visitor's Center in Pitlochry as he is someone I've admired for many years!

 John Muir (April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914) was born in Scotland and emigrated to the United States in 1849 with his parents and siblings. In his life, he became a naturalist, author, environmentalist, botanist, zoologist, glaciologist, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States, and is known as the "Father of the National Parks" system and the founder of the Sierra Club.

Please click on the photo  to enlarge

There were many informational placards in the center

Environmental conservation is a worldwide need and Scotland is promoting its awareness. 

I agree!

We passed more beautiful scenery when we departed Pitlochry, on our way toward St Andrews.

We passed farmlands and sadly saw the remains of flooding that had occurred with Storm Babet which roared through part of Europe in the middle of October, with destructive rain and flooding. All of Europe has been feeling the effects of climate change.

We rode along with Rail Europe at one point as we made our way east to St. Andrews--on my next post!

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Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Culloden Battlefield near Inverness, Scotland

Culloden is a tract of moorland located in the county of Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands. As we drove towards the battlefield, our tour bus passed through charming towns and breathtaking scenery.

Crossing over the River Ness into Inverness

Our tour guide told us to quickly glance to see these bible passages engraved on the wall of a building in Inverness.  Luckily, I could snap a few photos of them as our tour bus passed themThey are a series of thirteen verses carved on the first floor walls of a city center building on the High Street. The building dates back to 1815 and at one time was the Athenaeum Hotel. Our tour guide said they were placed there to remind local politicians of their Christian duties.

Please click on the photo collage above to enlarge it.

The Battle of Culloden took place on April 16, 1746.  It was the last battle of the “Forty-five Rebellion,” when the Jacobites, under Charles Edward, the Young Pretender (“Bonnie Prince Charlie”), were defeated by British forces under William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.

The battle, which lasted only 40 minutes, resulted in bitter defeat for the heavily outnumbered Jacobites. Some 1,000 of the Young Pretender’s army of 5,000 weak and starving Highlanders were killed by the 9,000 Redcoats, who lost only 50 men. 

The Highlanders finally broke and fled, and some 1,000 more were killed in subsequent weeks of hounding by British troops. Hunted by troops and spies, Prince Charles wandered over Scotland for five months before escaping to France and final exile. The Battle of Culloden marked the end of any serious attempt by the Jacobites to restore the Stuart Dynasty to the British throne.

Leanach Cottage

During the battle, a similar cottage stood on this spot and served as a field hospital for Government soldiers. Over time, the cottage has seen many changes.

After falling into disrepair, Leanach Cottage was rebuilt in the early 19th century. The cottage became a symbol for the battlefield, and the people who lived there became the site’s first tour guides. The cottage’s last resident, Mrs Annabelle Cameron (née Belle Macdonald) moved out in 1912 and the cottage stood empty. In 1944, Leanach Cottage was given to the National Trust for Scotland by Hector Forbes, the landowner. In the early 1960s, the cottage became the first ‘museum’ at Culloden Battlefield.

 Please click on the photos above to enlarge it.

Thatching on the cottage is made from heather collected from the battlefield and then crafted together by local tradesmen, while the walls are a mixture of stone and turf.

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Today, Leanach Cottage houses temporary exhibitions relating to the battlefield. These exhibitions cover current research including new archaeological discoveries, people’s connection to the battlefield, and the threats to the battlefield in modern times.

Please click on the photo to enlarge it.

Please click on the photo to enlarge it

Please click on the photo to enlarge it.

Please click on the photo to enlarge it.

The Culloden Battlefield was once wild fields of heather grazed upon by cattle. Since 1746, people from all around the world have visited the battlefield. The story of the Jacobite Risings has influenced works of art and literature across many generations, from "The Skye Boat Song" to the Outlander series..

In 1881, Duncan Forbes, the landowner of the moor, placed stone markers to show where most of the battlefield soldiers were buried.

As we walked along we saw stones for prominent Jacobite Scottish clans who fought and died on the battlefield.

Some stones were marked "mixed clans"

One of the most recognizable features of the battlefield today is the 20-foot (6 m)-tall memorial cairn erected by Duncan Forbes in 1881.

Inscription plaque on the cairn. 

Another stone of note is for the Frazer clan, due to the popularity of the novels by Diana Gabaldon and the subsequent TV series "Outlander."

The novel features Jamie Fraser, a hero of historical fiction. It looked like a visiting fan left a bouquet of roses in front of the Fraser Clan stone.

Have you read the Outlander books or watched the TV series?

We spent a lot of time on the battlefield so we only had a few moments inside the Culloden Visitor Center. 
A group of volunteers were there, entertaining visitors with music.

We were back on the bus passing beautiful fields full of sheep...

Another sight our tour guide pointed out to us was the Culloden Viaduct.

The Culloden viaduct consists of 29 arches and was designed by Chief Engineer Murdoch Paterson and constructed by the Highland Railway. It spans over the valley and River Nairn and is the longest masonry viaduct in Scotland, measuring 1800ft (549m) in length. The viaduct was opened in 1889 and remains in use today as the primary rail link into the Highlands.

We were on our way towards the Victorian town of Pitlochry in the heart of Scotland-- more about that pretty town in my next blog post.

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Monday, April 15, 2024

Scotland's Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle and the Old Bridge in Invermoriston

Last October, we went on a Cosmos Tour to visit the "Highlights of Ireland and Scotland." During our journey, we stopped at Loch Ness in Scotland and walked along the loch. Although we searched as far as we could see, we could not catch a glimpse of the famous "Loch Ness Monster." You may have better luck spotting it during your visit. (smile)

Loch Ness is a large freshwater loch (lake) in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 kilometers (23 miles) southwest of Inverness. It takes its name from the River Ness, which flows from the northern end.

Loch Ness is the second-largest Scottish lake by surface area after Loch Lomond, but due to its great depth, it is the largest by volume in Great Britain. Its deepest point is 230 meters (126 fathoms; 755 feet), making it the second deepest loch in Scotland after Loch Morar. It contains more water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined and is the largest body of water in the Great Glen, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south. Its surface is 16 meters (52 feet) above sea level.

One thing we did find along Loch Ness was spectacular colorful autumn scenery! 

We stopped again at an overlook of Urquhart Castle. The present ruins date from the 13th to the 16th centuries, though built on the site of an early medieval fortification. Founded in the 13th century, Urquhart played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century.  Urquhart was partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent its use by Jacobite forces, and it subsequently decayed. In the 20th century, it was placed in state care as a scheduled monument and opened to the public: it is now one of the most-visited castles in Scotland!

While we watched above, a large group of visitors to the castle departed a ferry that docked on Loch Ness.

The buildings of the castle were laid out around two main enclosures on the shore. The northern enclosure or Nether Bailey includes most of the more intact structures, including the gatehouse, and the five-story Grant Tower at the north end of the castle. The southern enclosure or Upper Bailey, located on higher ground, comprises the scant remains of earlier buildings.

Not only was the view beautiful but so was the local flora!

Our next stop along Loch Ness was the Old Bridge at Invermoriston.

Built in 1813, the bridge was part of the main road between Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus, until it was replaced in the 1930s with a new bridge. Today it’s a great spot for photographs and to see salmon leaping. 

The Old Bridge crosses the spectacular River Moriston Falls.

My husband and I and my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law posed for a photo on the bridge.

I believe that the fall season in Scotland is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen!

In my next blog post, I will take you to Culloden, Scotland, the site of the historic Battle of Culloden. If you are a fan of The Outlander book and TV series, you'll recognize this historic place.