Inverness & Loch Ness

Aug 05, 2019 - Lord of the Glens

Our first day on board Lord of the Glens started with a beautiful, sunny morning in Muirton overlooking the city of Inverness, shimmering below us as we lay quietly in the canal. Our destination was the famous battlefield of Culloden, where on April 16, 1746, the rebel Jacobite army under Bonnie Prince Charlie met a well-prepared government army commanded by the Duke of Cumberland. The consequences of their defeat on that field reverberated through the Highlands for many years to come, leading to suppression of the culture, population clearances, and emigration to the new world.

Today the battlefield is bright with wildflowers and visitors from around the world. An innovative museum tells the story of these fateful events, and there are even demonstrations of how to wear the traditional kilt. Not far from Culloden is a beautiful glen by the river Nairn where a complex of ritual monuments was erected almost 4,000 years ago. At Clava Cairns, two aligned passage graves with long tunnel entrances surrounded by standing stone circles are coordinated with the midwinter solstice, with an adjacent ring cairn and other antiquities.

Back on board, we began our transit of the Caledonian Canal, sailing in stately fashion along tranquil waters until we reached the legendary Loch Ness. The canal, itself a historical monument, was built between 1803 and 1822 under the presiding genius of engineer Thomas Telford. Running the 63-mile length of the Great Glen, a natural fault line, the canal connects the North Sea with the Atlantic coast. Loch Ness occupies 23 miles of this route, and halfway along are the spectacular ruins of Urquhart Castle, which sits on a rock overlooking the deep waters of the loch.

Soon we arrived at Fort Augustus, a charming village straddling either side of the canal, and we began to ascend the set of five locks to our overnight berth at the top. Some of us enjoyed a historic and photographic walk around the village. Others went for a longer hike, taking them along the tow path, on deep country lanes to an ancient graveyard graced with yew trees, over a rushing river, among native temperate woodland of oak and hazel, and back again to the village through a field of Cheviot sheep to the former Benedictine abbey on the shores of Loch Ness.

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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

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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