Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Exploring Jamie and Claire Land or Five Days in Loch Ness: Culloden

The driving force behind my trip to Scotland was my love for all things Outlander.  That's no surprise.  Having read and listened to the books umpteen times I wanted to see the area first hand where Claire and Jamie are supposed to fall in love and where Lallybroch would most likely be situated.  I knew the general area was around Inverness which was the determining reason why I chose to stay in the Loch Ness area for five nights.  Loch Ness is beautiful.  Don't let anyone dissuade from you going there, in fact I thought it was much nicer than the much touted Loch Lomond.

For one thing, Loch Ness had a mystery to it.  Yes, I mean the monster - or Nessie as she's affectionately known.  There are many interesting things about the Loch I didn't know.  It's very deep and large.  The amount of water that Loch Ness holds is more than all the other lochs in England, Scotland and Wales combined.  Pretty amazing stats.  It's long and narrow in comparison to some other lochs we drove by.  At one end of Loch Ness is Inverness (Inver means mouth of) and the other end is Fort Augustus, which is a charming little town that we visited for dinner one night.

Map courtesy of Evergreen (click on pics for larger images)
We were staying in a Bed & Breakfast, called Evergreen that is located on the quiet side of Loch Ness in Inverfarigaig.  Inverfarigaig is as big as a minute.  The quiet side is the south shore of Loch Ness, away from the touristy Nessy attractions and traffic.  There's no town or village, it's basically an area of road between Dores and Foyers on the B852, which is also known as General Wade's Military Road.  General Wade's Road was built in the 1700's so that British troops would have a good road to go back and forth on from Fort Augustus to Inverness or Nairn, somewhere thereabouts.

I highly recommend Evergreen, it's almost right on the Loch with views that are beautiful.  We saw deer and red squirrels in the neighboring woods, it's very quiet and peaceful.  There are only two guest rooms at Evergreen and we had them both, so the place was basically ours.  It was very comfortable and  I thought of it as our home away from home.  Our hosts, Graeme and Fiona were wonderful.  Full of knowledge, interesting and fun to talk to.  Fiona cooked us up big Scottish breakfasts each morning, always beginning with porridge and fruit and yogurt.  Then it was usually some kind of eggs dish, whether an omelet or fried eggs, whatever we wanted, she'd make - it was great!  (I was too chicken to try the haggis, though.)

The nice thing about Evergreen was it had a great central location to the places I wanted to visit.  I had an agenda as far as Outlander locations:  Culloden, Clava Cairns, Cawdor Castle and Inverness itself.  All of these places were located on the same side of the Loch as we were, so it was really an easy drive to get to our first stop in the morning: Culloden Battlefield.

Culloden is the site of the last great battle between Scotland and England.  The battle took place on April 16 of 1745 in which 1,250 Scottish Jacobites were killed.  It was a slaughter and changed the Scots forever.  Today there is a really well done visitor center that describes all the events leading up to Culloden with Bonnie Prince Charlie and a very good "battle immersion film" that really gives you an idea of what it must have been like to have been right there on that day.  Beside the visitor center is Culloden itself.  The actual battlefield has been restored to how they believe it must have looked on that day.  When you go out walking to the field, there are many clan stones, signifying the clan that died there that day.  
notice the heather someone put there in front
The main one I was interested in seeing was the Clan Fraser stone.  It's easy to spot, for it's right near a great cairn that was built in memory of the soldiers that died there.

When I first saw the Fraser marker, I noticed there was a woman standing before it, taking a picture of it.  I knew what she was doing there.  I walked up to her and said aloud, "Outlander?"  She turned to me and laughed, "Yes, Outlander!"  A kindred spirit.  She was German and a fan like me.  We talked a bit about the books and eventually went our separate ways, we were both there for the same reason.
Cairn across from the Fraser stone
Inscription on the large cairn
Old Leanach cottage
The battlefield itself is enormous and I'm afraid I just did not have the energy to walk all over it.  I found what I wanted and then headed to a small cottage on the side of the field that was there in 1745 and survived the battle.  It's been reconstructed to look as it would have then.  Maybe this is where some of the wounded remained after the battle.  Anyone who has read Voyager will know what I'm talking about.  A nice gentleman (German, I think) took our picture in front of it.

For anyone going to the Loch Ness area, this is a must see and a moving visit.  We also saw some Highland Cows while we were there, they're so cuuuute! (But, apparently mean as hell if you bother them!)

I took some shots of the views of the countryside while I was standing on Culloden Moor.  It's very moving to think this is where the battle took place amidst this beautiful countryside.  The purple heather was everywhere in the Highlands!

Clava Cairns was our next stop, plus it's right next to Culloden. These are ancient cairns that are thousands of years old, but my particular interest in them was that there are standing stones as well.   There's even a cleft in one of them, I had to get a gratuitous shot!

Julie having her "Claire" moment!

There is a definite chilliness about the place, a little eerie, so we didn't stay long, I just wanted to have my Claire moment.  It was back in the car and on the road for more sightseeing!

Next stop: a cruise on Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle...


Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Julie, you so make me want to go back and do it all over again. Culloden was amazing - I sobbed for an hour. And yes, loved the Cairns. Wow. Thanks for the photos! We made a book so I can look at the places we visited every day!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Julia, I intend to make a book too, I have tons of photos to go through. Between the three of us, our cameras and iPhones it's a lot to go through. I didn't cry at Culloden, but I came close in the battlefield immersion room. Seeing what they went through the night before as well slogging in the dark, no wonder they were starved and exhausted the day of the battle! If only...

Joanne said...

Wonderful pics and commentary, Julie. Love, love, love the pic of you with the standing stone!!!! Perfect!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Thanks Joanne, I had to go to Clava just for a pic of me there-I had to!

Yvette said...

I'll bet you have tons of photos. Ha. And now it's so much easier with a digital camera.

I'm so glad the place lived up to your expectations, Julie. I knew it would. :)

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Yvette, I'm still sorting through the photos and have yet to get my DH and son to upload theirs, so I can combine them and make an album eventually. MEN!

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