Aug 27, 2017 - Lord of the Glens
It was a fine morning as we cast of from our berth at Fort Augustus and started our descent of the four locks clustered there. These locks lie at the heart of the tiny village, with the swing bridge at the bottom. Through we sailed in our stately passage, past the former fort, later occupied by a 19th-century Benedictine Abbey and past a historic pepper-pot lighthouse before entering the waters of Loch Ness itself. This 23-mile long body of fresh water is the largest in Britain by volume, and follows the line of the Great Glen Fault which crosses Scotland from south-west to north-east. No sightings of the infamous Loch Ness monster were reported on this occasion, but real enough were the dramatic ruins of Urquhart Castle on the shore of the loch. A stronghold has stood on its promontory since prehistoric times, and the present masonry dates from the early 13th century, until it was destroyed in the 1690s to prevent it falling into rebel Jacobite hands. Then we sailed out of Loch Ness into Loch Dochfour and the last stretch of the canal up to Inverness. This was lined with pretty cottages and tiny exquisite gardens and our final berth gave us spectacular views over Inverness below.
After lunch we set off to view the battlefield of Culloden, where on 16 April 1646 Prince Charles Edward Stewart’s army was defeated by government forces, bringing an end to the Jacobite rebellions and bringing decades of retribution to the Highlands. An imaginative visitor center told the story from both sides and out on the battlefield, lines of red and blue flags indicated the positions of the opposing sides. Today Culloden Moor, purple with heather in full bloom, still has a powerful atmosphere.
Our next destination was altogether different as we visited the 4,000-year old Clava Cairns, an amazing group of stone monuments built by early Bronze Age farmers that are aligned to the midwinter solstice.
Back on board Lord of the Glens, we gathered for a convivial farewell evening with a very Scottish dinner complete with haggis and followed by a charming demonstration of Scottish country dancing by some very young, beautifully dressed dancers. It was a fitting end to our journey together and we wish everyone bon voyage, and hope perhaps to meet again on another other expedition.
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