The Highlands

Fort Williams to Inverness, both sides of the Great Glen, 
and north to Caithness and John O'Groats

Northwest Highlands

The cloud-covered mountain is the highest in Britain, Ben Nevis.

Glencoe, the "Vale of Tears", was the site of the famous 1692 massacre of MacDonalds by the forces of King William. The MacDonald chief delayed until the last minute to take an Oath of Allegiance to the King, and when he showed up in Fort William to take the oath he discovered that he could not do so there. By the time he took the oath at Inverary, the deadline had passed. The Earl of Stair sent a force of lowland Scots  (mostly members of the Campbell clan) to be housed by the MacDonalds in Glencoe. At a prearranged signal, the soldiers attacked their hosts, killing many and forcing many to flee into the winter harshness of the Glen.  

Fort William, whose pedestrianized High Street is filled with touristy shops. 

The monument to the Young Pretender - Prince Charles Edward Stuart (aka "Bonnie Prince Charlie") at Glenfinnan. It was here that he landed on the Scottish mainland and raised his standard to start the 1745-46 Jacobite Rising. 

The Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh leads from the Western Highlands to the Isle of Skye

Eilean Donan Castle (pronounced "Eelan Dohnan"). 
In case it looks familiar, that's the castle from the movie Highlander (as well as nearly every Scottish calendar). 

Applecross village

The road from Kishorn to Applecross crosses "Bealach na Ba", or "pass of the cattle". It's not for the faint of heart or wide of car, and the day we drove through, the clouds were below the pass and made driving a real adventure.

Glen Shieldag

Loch Achanalt

Loch Maree

Loch Maree

Loch Torridon

Loch Maree

Victoria Falls

Loch Kishorn

The Jacobite Steam Train
Fort William to Mallaig on the West Highland Line

Neptune's Staircase - a chain of eight locks on the Calendonian Canal, built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822. It is the longest staircase lock in Britain, lifting boats 64 feet.  

Legend had it that a horse and cart was buried in the concrete of this viaduct, the highest on the route from Fort William to Mallaig. A few years ago ground-penetrating radar was used on the viaduct, and returned images of exactly that - a horse and cart buried in the concrete. Sometimes truth is as strange as fiction.

Fans of Harry Potter will remember Ron and Harry flying a Ford Anglia ahead of the Hogwarts Express, here at the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Inside the switch house at Glenfinnan

The Jacobite stops at Glenfinnan Station to wait for the down-train to pass.

This island stood in for Dumbledore's burial place

Dinner at Mallaig - Cullen Skink!

One of the small island ferries docking at Mallaig

An old fishing boat sits on the slipway at Mallaig

The end of the line is the little fishing village and ferry port of Mallaig

A curious local resident swims up to greet us at the ferry dock in Mallaig.

The Isle of Rhum

Inverailort House on Loch Ailort

Lady of the Braes chapel

A Dutch tall ship moored in the Caledonian Canal at Fort William

Glenfinnan from the Viaduct - a spectacular view of the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland to raise the Highland Clans in 1745.

Lock keeper's house on the Calendonian Canal at Fort William

The railroad viaduct at the end of Loch nan Uamh

The Great Glen - Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle stands on the north shore of Loch Ness. One of Scotland's largest castles, it was in use from the 13th through 17th centuries

The Upper Bailey of the castle - the original 13th century fortification was here, and there might possibly have been a Pictish fort on the same site dating back to the sixth century or earlier. The castle was later extended to the larger and lower Nether Bailey. 

A Trebuchet sits outside Urquhart Castle

Drumnadrochit houses the Official Loch Ness Monster Centre. It's actually very well done, a scientific analysis of the evidence. In the end, they concluded that there just couldn't be a Loch Ness Monster. 

Of course, after they prove there couldn't be a monster, you exit into the gift shop where you can buy stuffed Nessies in all possible sizes. I couldn't resist...

The Cairngorms

Ruthven Barracks in Kingussie, north of Blair Atholl in the Cairngorms, built to house Redcoats sent by the King to subdue the rebellious Scots, and destroyed in the 1745 Jacobite Uprising ("Bonnie Prince Charlie" and all that).

Loch an Eilean on the Rothiemurchus Estate in the Cairngorms. The name means "Lake of the Island"

This is the Island - the castle filling the island once belonged to the "Wolf of Badenoch" in the 14th century, and it featured in one episode of Monarch of the Glen, when Archie and Katrina rowed a boat out to meet "H" in the castle. 

Loch Laggan

Ardverikie House on Loch Laggan- or maybe you remember it as Glenbogle House from the TV series Monarch of the Glen?

The Bridge of Carr was built in Carrbridge in 1717 to carry pack trains over the River Dulnain. 

Culloden Area

The battlefield at Culloden Moor: On this spot, on April 16, 1746, the final battle in the last of the Jacobite wars ended in total defeat for the Highland Jacobite forces. The moor remains a very haunting place, where so many were killed for their cause. Prince Charlie himself survived the battle, fleeing to Skye, and thence back to exile in Rome. The Highland men were less fortunate - those left on the field were killed where they lay, or hunted down as they fled. Hundreds were captured, tried and executed or transported. Highland dress, carrying weapons and playing the bagpipes were banned for Scots until the end of the eighteenth century. 

Old Leanach Cottage, which was there during the battle.

The dead were buried by clan, where that could be determined. 

The casualties on the Royalist side were light, especially relative to the Jacobite side. This monument marks where Royalist dead were buried - contrary to the Jacobite sentiment expressed by the stone, they were not predominantly English. Many Scots, especially lowland clans, fought on the side of King William. 

The Visitor Centre, completed in 2008, is recessed into the landscape, so it doesn't intrude on the field itself. As you walk down the corridors, the Jacobite view is presented on one wall, the Government view on the opposing wall. Finally, you're given a GPS-based audio player and walk the field of battle, hearing the stories of those who fought there. 

The memorial wall in the Visitor Centre - each stone which stands out from the wall represents one death. There are about 2,000 on the Jacobite end of the wall, only 50 on the Royalist side. 

The red flags mark the Government positions

The Clava Cairns, a group of prehistoric burial mounds just a few miles away from Culloden.

The cairns at Clava Cairns are accompanied by a guard of standing stones.

The Black Isle

Not really an island, the Black Isle is a peninsula extending northeastward from Inverness along the Moray Firth. The village of Cromarty is on the Eastern end of the Black Isle, a compact "planned community" of the 18th century. The "Sutors" (an old Gaelic word meaning "shoemakers") frame the inlet at Cromarty Harbor.

The Gaelic Chapel, Cromarty, on the Black Isle northeast of Inverness

Fortrose Cathedral

Ardnamurchan Peninsula

The Ardnamurchan Peninsula on the Scottish mainland is rocky, rugged and nearly uninhabited, especially on this view from the water.

Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula
This is where you catch the Kilchoan-Tobermory Ferry

North East Highlands to the North Coast

Castle Sinclair-Girnigoe, a few miles east of Wick. 

The castle is actually made up of the ruins of two castles - the 15th-century Castle Girnigoe, and the early 17th-century Castle Sinclair. Together, they form an impressive ruin on a high bluff overlooking Sinclair's Bay on the North Sea.

The castle was, and remains, in the hands of the Sinclair family, historically the Earls of Caithness. Clan Sinclair is currently undergoing a restoration and stabilization of Castle Sinclair-Girnigoe

Gatehouse, with portcullis.

Sea stack and arch next to Castle Sinclair-Girnigoe

The beach on this little cove was covered in small rock cairns - it looked a bit like Stonehenge as rendered by hobbits. 

This building of rock piles around the coast is becoming a craze in the UK, and has become quite controversial. Some think it's harmless fun, others dislike the appearance and complain about damaging the underlying soil. 

A Fulmar nesting on the cliff below the castle. Fulmars look a bit like gulls, but they're actually members of the same family as the Albatross. 

John O'Groats is a small town at what is often thought to be the northernmost point in Scotland (it's not, the actual northernmost point is Dunnet Head, a few miles west). John O'Groats to Land's End in Cornwall is the traditional end-to-end route along the length of the UK We made a special detour to John O'Groats to take our group picture next to this sign, because... well, how could you drive all the way north and not stop for the obligatory touristy picture? New York, 3,230 miles thataway... 

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