Fort Augustus & Inverness

Aug 03, 2019 - Lord of the Glens


Beautiful mist hung around the brows of the mountains surrounding us as we headed down the lock system at Fort Augustus, destined for Loch Ness. As we set forth into the deep, dark waters of the loch, we heard an excellent talk on the history of Scotland’s monarchy and the fateful Jacobite rebellion, just in time for our afternoon visit to the famous Culloden battlefield.

We all headed outside to watch our journey down Loch Ness and marvel at the beautiful Urquhart Castle, everything framed in glorious sunshine. The sunny weather was so hot you would hardly believe that we were in Scotland. Sadly, no one on board was able to spot Nessie. As we sat down for lunch, we arrived in Muirtown basin—Inverness, our ship’s destination. After lunch we were to head out to the Culloden battlefield; a climax to our cultural tour.

Culloden, just outside Inverness, was the location of the last armed civil war on the British mainland. It was there that Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army was defeated in 1746 by Hanoverian regiments commanded by the Duke of Cumberland, son of the second Hanoverian monarch, George II. The latter dynasty had taken over from the Stuarts in 1714, following the death of the last of the Stuart line, Queen Anne, whose children had all predeceased her. In essence, the conflict was between a Protestant regime and a Catholic claimant. The conflict was very well described at the National Trust for Scotland’s interpretative center with an immersive film that vividly recreated the horrors of an 18th-century field battle. The battle of Culloden was a turning point in the history of the Highlands.

We met outside the center and headed out for a nature walk around the grounds, discovering trees, wildflowers, butterflies, and birds, and seeing for ourselves where so many Highland men died for a failed cause.

From Culloden, we continued a short distance to Clava Cairns, a series of three ancient megaliths from the Neolithic period. The cairns were of significant cultural significance for thousands of years. They are aligned so that on the winter solstice, the sun’s rays illuminate the back wall of the circular buildings, proving that spring was on its way again and the darkness would soon pass.

For dinner, we had Scottish haggis, and afterward, we were treated to a Scottish dancing performance by a local dance group—the perfect end to the perfect Scottish trip.

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About the Author

Ella Potts

Naturalist

Growing up, Ella spent much of her time swimming and kayaking in the cold waters off the rugged coast of West Wales. It was there that she first found her love of the ocean. From those early beginnings she went on to study Biology at undergraduate degree and Environmental Biology, Conservation and Resource Management to Masters degree level, at Swansea University. During her studies, Ella took an ecosystem approach towards assessing the health of our marine systems, with her specialism being in our oceans apex predators, the cetaceans. Following her studies, Ella decided to put her scientific background to good use and move into marine conservation.

About the Photographer

Steve Morello

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Steve Morello has had a long and colorful career in the natural history world. Born in New Jersey he was lucky to be able to summer on the shores of Cape Cod. Whether it was exploring the tidal pools, snorkeling along the beach, or hiking in the dunes, it all came together to instill in him a deep connection to the natural world. It was no surprise that he would return to the Cape as a whale researcher in his adult years. It was on the Cape that Steve first became involved in guiding, and for 15 years acted as naturalist on whale watching boats in the Gulf of Maine. Steve worked with groups creating environmental education material for school programs and soon found another one of his passions, photography.

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