Monday, August 23, 2010

A long drive to the north coast of Scotland, but worth it! Here was one of our campsites  - our campervan was the only vehicle by evening. We woke early to hear the fishermen heading out, but the crush of August holidaymakers did not travel far enough north to crowd us. We had a rainy day on the drive up to Inverness, so decided to visit the Culloden visitor centre. I'd first learned about the battle of Culloden in 1746 in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series so I had a fantastically romantic idea about it before seeing the battlefield.

Culloden Battlefield (photo by curtis_welsh)

I had to leave the multi-sided cinema dramatisation - the horror of war in the 18th Century was too much for me - flintlock guns, swords and incredible bravery of hand to hand combat.  The exhausted, starving Scottish Jacobites in tartans fighting the professional English redcoat soldiers.  The computer simulation of the battle was fascinating.  I wish we had walked out to the clan stones on the field, but the rain was tipping down by then.  We also visited the site of Rossal, where crofters were evicted during the subsequent Highland Clearance - an early version of 'ethnic cleansing'. The Clearances stemmed in part from the attempt by the British establishment to destroy, once and for all Clan System, which had facilitated the Jacobite uprising - and combined with Culloden, destroyed the culture and sent my ancestors to immigrate. I can imagine that the scenes are even more emotive for a Scot!

The midges drove us to the coast where the breeze would take them away. NASTY little beasts that are too small to see until they bite and then itch for days!  When we had campsites in the woods, we had to close ourselves up tight, dashing out only to make very hurried toilet stops. Not much of a wilderness experience locked inside a closed vehicle!  But the coast was magical - while Billy took a wood turning class for a day I took Nelly for a long run and then went to watch the seals and knit by the sea.  
There really isn't a well defined coastal path, like in Cornwall or Pembrokshire - I guess they just don't have the traffic, so it was occasionally a bit scary, not knowing how close you should walk to the cliff and collapse scarps appeared when you were not paying attention and the fog descended.

 All in all a great adventure!

1 comment:

Christina said...

I LOVED Scotland and hope to go back one day. Have you ever read Diana Galbadon's books? Many of the books in the Outlander series takes place in Scotland, including Culloden. As I walked amongst the clan headstones I could picture the characters in the books and had to remind myself the book was fiction. The battle and the executions after the battle were not fiction. Thanks for sharing the great pictures.