We started the day at Culloden Moor Battlefield. Those Jacobites were really on a hiding to nothing! If you’re gonna pick a fight with the English, I’d recommend Murrayfield or Twickenham, not Culloden Moor. It’s not a very pleasant place. It’s cold, windy and as it’s name suggests a wet, soggy, boggy moor. Mind you it wouldn’t have been pleasant for the English either, but they were a little better watered, fed, armed and organised.
It was overcast and windy and cool but still not r*#ning. As added insurance, before stepping out of the interpretive centre onto the moor, I purchased two umbrellas! Tartan ones, of course!
We checked out the highland cows before wandering the battlefield.
Leanach Cottage was originally built in the early 18th century and has a heather thatch made from that growing on the battlefield. I don’t think it would be very warm or comfortable either. It was used as the field hospital by the English during the battle.
Up until recently it served as the original Visitor Centre until the new centre was built. The new one is all whizz bang and high tech, and well worth a visit!
We walked through the battle fields with the wind howling under a threatening sky. What an eerie place!
The lines of the troops at the Battle of Culloden are marked with red and blue flags. The red flags mark the line of the government troops whilst blue flags mark the initial line of the Jacobite troops before the charge.
The Battle of Culloden Memorial Cairn is prominent on the landscape and is circled by stones indicating where various clan groups fell.
The umbrellas worked and the r#*n stayed away. We could have spent longer here but we had the North Coast 500 to explore. Today was Day 1 and we needed to get moving if we were to get to John O’Groats by tonight.
We headed off along the A9 and it wasn’t long before we took our first detour to the Black Isles just north of Inverness.
The scenery was already stunning (and continued to be such for the whole day).
After the doom and gloom of Culloden, we thought we needed something completely different. Fairy Glen Waterfall fit the bill perfectly. Sadly, we didn’t see a unicorn! Or a fairy!
We made a very important discovery while sitting beside the waterfall….. Money DOES grow on trees!!!
And so do mushrooms!
Our next stop was Dornoch. It was lunchtime and there were a few things worth seeing.
The Cathedral was lovely, both inside and out.
Dornoch has a gruesome claim to fame. It was the last place a witch was burnt in Scotland. She was tried and condemned to death in 1727. There is a stone, the Witch’s Stone, marking the alleged spot of her execution, sitting in the front garden of the last house in Carnaig Street. It felt a bit weird walking up to someone’s front gate to take a photo of a rock!
From the stone, you can wander two ways. Either onto the Royal Dornoch Golf Course, or the beach.
Just up the road a bit is the beautiful Dunrobin Castle. It’s the current home to the Countess of Sutherland, Head if the Sutherland Clan.
It sits above the gardens overlooking the Dornoch Firth.
The interior was impressive. The tartan carpet worn in places, particularly at areas in front of the windows, where generations of Sutherland’s stood to admire the view. It had a real “lived in” feel.
As long as “lived in” means living with stuffed animals, museum like rooms and all the family trinkets and paintings out on display for fee paying tourists to ooh and ahh at.
After a wander through the gardens and a quick game of croquet it was time to move on.
We had two more stops planned for the day and it was getting late.
Carn Liath is a Bronze Age broch or roundhouse ‘castle’ which sits by the side of the A9 overlooking the sea.
We had one more stop. But we missed it! Which was just as well as the light was fading.
We arrived at our Airbnb after dark, so we missed seeing the view. The hosts assure us we will be impressed.
Day 1 of the North Coast 500 gets a big tick.