Inverness and Fort Augustus

Jul 24, 2018 - Lord of the Glens


The canal was quiet and still when we awoke to our first morning on board Lord of the Glens with a full day of exploring the Scottish Highlands ahead. Culloden Battlefield beckoned us first. The ominous moor was where, on April 16, 1746, the aspirations of the Highland clans—hoping to restore the Stewart monarchy to the throne—were ground to dust by superior government forces. History was changed that day.

A walk in a glade took us back almost 4,000 years in time to the cusp of the Neolithic and Bronze ages. On the banks of the River Nairn, we spotted a group of spectacular monuments—two chambered cairns, or passage tombs, aligned with the midwinter solstice, and a fascinating ring cairn once associated with prehistoric cremations. Each monument was encircled by a ring of standing stones, part of what was once a much larger ritual landscape of great significance to the early farmers who built them. 

Back on board the ship, we set off sailing along the Caledonian Canal and into Loch Ness. Along the banks stood the stately ruins of Urquhart Castle. Since prehistoric times, a structure has dominated Loch Ness from this strategic spot. The present castle dates from the early 1200s, though much of it was destroyed during one of the Jacobite rebellions.

Everyone kept an eye out for the celebrated inhabitant of the loch’s depths, but on this occasion, all was tranquil. Soon we arrived in the picturesque village of Fort Augustus at the far end of the loch. Guests set off for an invigorating hike through the surrounding countryside or a gentle ramble through the village. Back onboard, we heard sweet and stirring live Scottish music in the lounge.

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About the Author

Carol Knott

Expedition Leader

Carol studied archaeology, history and philosophy at the University of Glasgow, her native city. She spent many years as an archaeologist in the southeast of England, specializing in medieval ceramics and the conservation of historic houses and gardens. Since 1988 she has worked as an archaeologist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, living in a crofting village on the Isle of Lewis, and was formerly archaeologist for the National Trust for Scotland for their World Heritage site of St Kilda. Her great pleasure is to explore the cultures of Scotland, Europe and the north Atlantic, and to bring them to life for a modern audience. 

About the Photographer

Eric Kruszewski

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

An editorial photographer and videographer based in Washington, D.C., Eric Kruszewski's multimedia work focuses on reportage and travel. His work is represented by National Geographic Creative, and he is a regular contributor to National Geographic's Image Collection.

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