Just returned from a night drinking at Fort Augustus at the west end of Loch Ness. Leanne has aged 30 years in the last few weeks and is no longer interested in dealing with the young folks.
The day started in Edinburgh and we hooked up with with Haggis Tours travelling up to Loch Ness. The guides, Tony and Colin are great -- very funny, informative and really try to get everyone into the spirit of things. On the way stopped at Dunkeld, a beautiful spot along a river (saw the salmon jumping) and visited an old church. The catherdral was started in 1260 and finished in the 16th century so there is a lot of mixed architecture. Dunkeld itself was said to have been founded by the Picts in the 9th century.
Went to Clava Cairns -- The Clava cairn is a type of Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairn, named after the group of 3 cairns at Balnuaran of Clava, to the east of Inverness in Scotland. There are about 50 cairns of this type in an area round about Inverness. They fall into two sub-types, one typically consisting of a corbelled passage grave with a single burial chamber linked to the entrance by a short passage and covered with a cairn of stones, with the entrances oriented south west towards midwinter sunset. In the other sub-type an annular ring cairn encloses an apparently unroofed area with no formal means of access from the outside. In both sub-types a stone circle surrounds the whole tomb and a kerb often runs around the cairn. The heights of the standing stones vary in height so that the tallest fringe the entrance (oriented south west) and the shortest are directly opposite it.
Where Clava-type tombs have still contained burial remains, only one or two bodies appear to have been buried in each, and the lack of access to the second sub-type suggests that there was no intention of re-visiting the dead or communally adding future burials as had been the case with Neolithic cairn tombs.
Next stop was an old Royal solider post called Ruthven Barracks where they could keep and eye on the Highlanders.
Visited Culloden, the site of the last battle on English soil. Here the English basically massacred the Highlanders. For more info Google it! It's an interesting story that lead up to the battle and a sad story in that it was the start of the Clearances.
The Highland Clearances (Scottish Gaelic: Fuadaich nan Gàidheal, the expulsion of the Gael) were forced displacements of the population of the Scottish Highlands in the eighteenth century. This led to mass emigration from the Highlands to the coast, the Scottish Lowlands, and abroad. This was part of a process of agricultural change throughout the United Kingdom, but the late timing, the lack of legal protection for year-by-year tenants under Scottish law, the abruptness of the change from the clan system and the brutality of many of the evictions gave the Highland Clearances particular notoriety. (From Wikipedia)
Spent a few moments at Loch Ness as the rain set in so no spottings from the group. Actually Loch Ness is a pretty dull place. Its real claim to fame is that it is the largest and deepest of the Lochs. Leanne and I have a private room at the hostel so while not luxurious, it will be quiet.
Off to Isle of Skye tomorrow.