Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Loch Ness

Loch Ness
Loch Ness...most famous, of course for the famed monster that lives in its depths. While a number of stories were told of it beginning in 1933 and although people have claimed numerous views and pictures, we, however, never saw the fabled monster at all. However, there are indeed numerous places that still hawk it, appealing mostly to the kiddies...
It begins at the River Oich and extends for 23 miles or so (on a side note, they use miles rather than km in the UK - I never knew).  It's one of the deeper lochs - being around 750 feet deep. The area was scoured out by a glacier, leaving a natural canal across the country. 
We decided to circle Loch Ness…to do that required driving on a very Japanese road - minus the deep ditches but including some rather touchy, soggy, boggy, edges of the road! The trip was amazing, the landscape changed in seconds (and so did the weather). We went from wide-open fields with local vegetation to suddenly being in the middle of a wooded forest. 


Culloden Monument
Near Inverness is the famous battlefield Culloden, from the Jacobite rebellion. (We’re back to the Outlander series now – and the author did her homework well.) So much was happening between Britain and and Scotland (as well as other countries), civil war was a constant fear, religious differences fueled fighting, everyone was trying to survive. Scotland Highlanders threw in their support for the Bonnie Prince Charles, son of the exiled Stuart King, the man who, with France's help, would win the day, defeat Britain and return Scotland to its rightful place in the world. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. Culloden was the deciding battle...and for such a short battle (lasted about an hour), it was horrific in the toll of lives.The visitor’s center was very well done but walking the field was incredible. 

Urquhart Castle

View of the Castle...it extended to the loch below

Bloody country…the next stop was Urquhart Castle, another location of war and death, though for part of its history it was a home for the wealthy owners / landlords of the time. The ruins shared a portion of their lives, including kitchens and food processing areas, stables for the animals, meeting halls, and even one room that had its own toilet (that of course dumped into the outside courtyard). There were some great views from the top of the standing walls and it covered quite a large area. Many of the community primarily lived inside the walls but any smelly or noisy business (tanning, blacksmiths, undertakers) were located outside the castle walls. Even though bathing was optional in those days, I suppose some activities were just over the top!
Tower remains

The community that held the castle in the days of the Jacobite rebellion were particularly anti-Jacobites. They watched the battles and saw the Jacobites being victorious and so decided to blast away the castle and leave, rather than leave it for the Jacobites to capture and use. It was quite impressive what could be done with enough gunpowder in a small area!

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