From your ship sit back, 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.
From here we travel to what may be the most famous stretch of water in the world and another ‘bucket-list’ location – Loch Ness.
The loch is the largest by volume in Scotland – others are bigger by area, or deeper, but this is the daddy of them all. There is more water in Loch Ness than in every lake in England and Wales combined! Plenty of room for even a large animal to hide, you would think? There will be plenty of photo opportunities here – and keep an eye open for a disturbance in the water...
We then pass Urquhart Castle, in ruins (but destroyed by its own garrison to prevent it falling into the hands of the Jacobites). The castle has quite a history, being captured by King Edward I of England (The ‘Hammer of the Scots’). Later, Robert the Bruce held it and then the Clan Grant, Clan Macdonald, then the Grants again. Oliver Cromwell totally ignored it when he invaded Scotland. The Grants, unable to hold on, finally ‘slighted’ the castle themselves in 1688 during the First Jacobite Rebellion to prevent the Jacobites laying siege outside making use of it. The castle has a working model of a ‘trebuchet’ – a medieval siege weapon used to hurl stones (and other more smelly missiles) into the castle.
We then find out about the whole Loch Ness story with a visit to the Loch Ness Centre with its rooms full of interesting information and ‘Nessie’ artefacts. The question on everyone’s lips as they leave is ‘could she really exist?’!
We then visit the lovely village of Beauly with its Priory ruins and lovely coffee shops before making the short journey to the Glen Ord Distillery where they produce Scotland’s biggest export – ‘uisge beatha’, the Water of Life. Here we will get to have a tour, discovering the process (and some of the mysteries) surrounding its manufacture, and maybe taste a wee dram or two! Slainte Mhath!
Suitably refreshed we then reluctantly make the short journey back to your ship.