Jul 22, 2019 - Lord of the Glens
Here we are in the Highlands of Scotland, ready to experience our first day of exploration onboard Lord of the Glens. After breakfast we traveled by coach through the charming town of Inverness to the site of the fateful battle of Culloden. On this desolate moor, 273 years ago, the hopes and dreams of the Jacobite cause, to restore the Catholic Stewart monarchy to Protestant Britain, were finally put to an end. The story of the events leading up to the confrontation between the government army and the rebels, and the retribution that was visited on the Highlands in the aftermath, was vividly portrayed in the visitor center. Re-enactors demonstrated how a simple length of cloth was folded into the versatile kilted garment worn by the Highlanders at the time. Outside on Culloden Moor, a few Highland cows chewed nonchalantly in the gentle sunshine, and we could forget the tribulations of the past with a walk amongst the wildflowers.
Next we found ourselves at the Clava Cairns, a sacred grove constructed about four thousand years ago on a glacial terrace by the river Nairn. Here, a complex of two passage graves and a ring cairn surrounded by standing stones transported us back to the Early Bronze Age, a time when the setting of the midwinter sun was a crucial event in the lives of the early farmers of the area.
Returning to the Caledonian Canal, Lord of the Glens set off on her journey towards Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. The loch was grey and somber today, and always mysterious, making it easy to imagine what denizen might lurk in its unfathomed depths. At the far end of the loch was Fort Augustus, a charming village built around a set of canal locks. Presently the swing bridge carrying the main road from Inverness to Fort William swung open for us, and we passed through, entering the first lock. Despite the rain, a group of undaunted hikers departed the ship for a watery walk, along the tow path and riverside lanes, admiring swathes of wild orchids and tasting the wild rambling raspberries on our way to the ancient churchyard of Cill Chumein. Meantime, the ship ascended the remaining locks and berthed for the night.
Our first day together in the Scottish Highlands was concluded with an evening of live traditional Scottish music on the pipes, accordion, and guitar – jigs and airs to set the feet tapping and the heart yearning.
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