From your ship, sit back and relax and let Mark introduce you to Scotland as we travel past Inverness, capital of the Highlands on our way to the scene of the last pitched-battle on British soil and death-knell for the final Jacobite Rebellion in 1746.
This is a must-see in any visit to the Highlands and we spend some time in this atmospheric place. ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie’s attempt to restore the Crown to the Stuart line met its end here just eight months after it started when he landed at Glenfinnan, on the west coast, in 1745. People still refer to this uprising as ‘the ‘45’. His tired and weakened army met the Government Army commanded by the Duke of Cumberland and was quickly defeated.
The repercussions for the Highlands, and the Clan system were immediate and devastating. The Highlands never really recovered from this. ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie made his escape, famously aided by Flora Macdonald ‘over the sea to Skye’ and then to Europe, never to return. You cannot help but be impressed by the Visitor Centre with its interactive displays and a tour of the battlefield, left close to its original condition on that fateful April day, is very thought-provoking.
Next we make the short journey to Fort George on the shores of the Moray Firth. You can immediately see why you would build a fort here – in fact this is the largest fortification on the whole of mainland Britain. It was built in the immediate aftermath of the battle of Culloden in order to maintain security amongst the unruly Highlanders. It also served as a deterrent to the invasion plans of the French Emperor Napoleon some years later. A shot has never been fired in anger from its walls.
There is the opportunity to wander around its impressive walls and marvel at the engineering. Gaze out across the Moray Firth and maybe see some dolphins, visit the quaint fort chapel and spend some time in the Highlander’s Museum, dedicated to the Highland Regiments who have served with distinction in the British Army for more than 250 years. There are many Victoria Crosses (Great Britain’s highest award for Valour in Battle) on display here.
Then we head into beautiful Speyside, where you can find distilleries around almost every corner producing Scotland’s most famous drink - ‘uisge beatha’, the ‘Water of Life’ - whisky! Unfortunately we only have time to visit one – the Cardhu Distillery but we will have time for a tour if you wish, and maybe take a wee dram or two! Slainte Mhath!
If whisky is not your thing then we may be able to arrange a visit to the Caorunn Gin Distillery as an alternative. Please ask for details. We then continue through Speyside, pausing at the old packhorse bridge in Carrbridge for more photo opportunities before reluctantly heading back over the Moray Firth towards your ship.