Road to Glasgow – Day 18

I thought there would not be any more images since I don’t usually take images from the coach due to the glare, reflections and generally dirty or wet windows.  I did want to try to get one though, since you are missing out on seeing the wonderful landscapes we have traveled.  We are now driving by a number of lochs and what you can see are tons of farmland  with white dots of sheep.  The dark areas are trees which are planted for lumber. We have passed numerous areas where the trees are planted in rows to maximize the area for trees.   Shot from the coach.
We traveled passed Loch Ness again.  We stopped this time at the Urquhart Castle ruins.    Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart saw great conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress. Control of the castle passed back and forth between the Scots and English during the Wars of Independence. The power struggles continued, as the Lords of the Isles regularly raided both castle and glen up until the 1500s.  The last of the government troops garrisoned here during the Jacobite Risings blew up the castle when they left. Urquhart’s iconic ruins remain, offering glimpses into medieval times and the lives of its noble residents.  We didn’t go down and into the ruins, which was a shame, but so much to see and so little time, it was nice to at least stopping long enough to get a long range shot.

The canal runs some 60 miles from northeast to southwest. Only one third of the entire length is man-made, the rest being formed by Loch Dochfour, Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy. These lochs are located in the Great Glen, on a geological fault in the Earth’s crust. There are 29 locks (including eight at Neptune’s Staircase, Banavie), four aqueducts and 10 bridges in the course of the canal.  The canal was conceived as a way of providing much-needed employment to the Highland region. The area was depressed as a result of the Highland Clearances, which had deprived many of their homes and jobs. Laws had been introduced which sought to eradicate the local culture, including bans on wearing tartan, playing the bagpipes, and speaking Gaelic. Many emigrated to Canada or elsewhere, or moved to the Scottish Lowlands. The canal would also provide a safer passage for wooden sailing ships from the north east of Scotland to the south west, avoiding the route around the north coast via Cape Wrath and the Pentland Firth. The work began on the canals back in 1803.  Because of the remoteness of the location, construction was started at both ends, so that completed sections could be used to bring in the materials for the middle sections.
We stopped in Fort Augustus at one of the swing bridge locks, with perfect timing to see a couple of boats pass through.

While there we looked for Nessie, but I guess we were not early enough (I heard she was an early riser) or she just didn’t want to be photographed.
So I had to make due with her statue –    and a rainbow.
David our program director brought some smoked halibut for everyone to try as we watched the ships pass through a number of locks here.
As we walked back to the coach – 
We drove on to stop at a special spot.  
The Commando Memorial is a  monument in Scotland, dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces raised during World War II. Situated around a mile from Spean Bridge village, it overlooks the training areas of the Commando Training Depot established in 1942 at Achnacarry Castle. Unveiled in 1952 by the Queen Mother, it has become one of the United Kingdom’s best-known monuments, both as a war memorial and as a tourist attraction offering views of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr.
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles, located in Scotland. Standing at 4,411 ft above sea level, it is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William.
 Our view with a dramatic sky.

After our short visit to this memorial, we drove on to Fort William, for a break and some lunch.  Fort William is the second largest settlement in the Highlands of Scotland with around 10,000 inhabitants – and the largest town: only the city of Inverness larger. Fort William is a major tourist center, with Glen Coe just to the south, Aonach Mòr to the east and Glenfinnanto the west, on the Road to the Isles. It is a center for hillwalking and climbing due to its proximity to Ben Nevis and many other Munro mountains. It is also known for its nearby downhill mountain bike track.

The view just outside of town.  
As we continued our drive to Glasglow, we stopped at Loch Lomond at a park by the Sloy/Awe Hydro-Electric Scheme, a hydro-electric facility situated between Loch Sloy and Inveruglas on the west bank of Loch Lomond.
  The stairs up to a viewing platform.

Next stop – Glasgow.


Inverness – Day 17

We visited Culloden Moor, scene of the last major battle fought on mainland Britain – the Battle of Culloden. The final Jacobite uprising, and their efforts to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne, ended here on April 16, 1746, when Government forces led by the Duke of Cumberland crushed the army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

Queen Anne, the last monarch of the House of Stuart, died in 1714, with no living children. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, she was succeeded by her second cousin George I of the House of Hanover, who was a descendant of the Stuarts through his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, a daughter of James VI and I. The Hanoverian victory at Culloden halted the Jacobite intent to overthrow the House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart to the British throne; Charles Stuart never again tried to challenge Hanoverian power in Great Britain. The conflict was the last pitched battle fought on British soil.

The Jacobites were supported and supplied by the Kingdom of France from Irish and Scots units in French service.  The British Government (Hanoverian loyalist) forces were mostly Protestants – English, along with a significant number of Scottish Lowlanders and Highlanders.  The quick and bloody battle on Culloden Moor was over in less than an hour, when after an unsuccessful Highland charge against the government lines, the Jacobites were routed and driven from the field.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded in the brief battle. In contrast, only about 300 government soldiers were killed or wounded.

The red flag marks where the government soldiers front line stood and the blue flag way off in the distance on the left side is where the Jacobites stood.  This is a grave site where you can view the Graves of the Clans, the Well of the Dead, the Memorial Cairn, the Cumberland Stone, and the Field of the English.  The museum contained a number of Jacobites’ artifacts.  There was also a demonstration of how men were “enlisted” by tricking them, by hiding it in the drink.  To  “take the King’s shilling” was to agree to serve as a sailor or soldier in the Royal Navy or the British Army.   

And the soldiers were called Lobsterbacks – because of the color of the jacket and pants. 
And here were the Jacobites shield and sword
And a cottage that was during the time of the battle. 
Here is a sampler done by a young girl – 
We left the battle field and headed to the 16th-century Brodie Castle, the historic seat of Clan Brodie, one of Scotland’s influential families. The castle is today owned by Scotland’s National Trust, and much of the interior is carefully restored and preserved to resemble things as they might have been in the medieval heyday of the clan. Outside the castle walls, a nature trail offers opportunity for a peaceful stroll through the well-manicured landscape.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to photograph inside the Castle.  The family had acquired a large collection of artwork and the furniture is from the family.  We had lunch at the castle and did a little shopping.  I only had time to get the view from the front of the castle towards the pond.  
This was our last day of touring.  Tomorrow morning we leave Inverness for Glasglow and prepare for our last night in the UK.  I am not sure if I will get any more photos from this trip as I seldom photograph from the coach.
This may be the last post.  It has been a great trip and I have seen a lot.  There is so much more to see and to photograph properly.  Thanks for following along on this trip.  I hope I have given you a little bit of a taste of the UK and helped your desire to see it yourself.

Road to Inverness – Day 15

Today we left Edinburgh and headed to Inverness.  This was the optional extension to the trip.  Our group was now just over 20 people and we obtained a new driver – Paul.  We boarded and started our drive with little bits of sunshine.
Our first quick stop was to see the 3 bridges of Edinburgh.  Of course, now it is raining.

The three Forth Bridges across the Firth of Forth which had the weather been better might have been a great sight but in the rain and lighting, it was just a quick – look at this.  This shows the 3 bridges in one shot with the monument.