At 10 we have breakfast so we are well rested and only after that we decide what we are going to do today. We stay in the neighbourhood and visit Culloden first, southeast of Inverness. Here the decisive battle was fought in 1746 between the Jacobites and the English army. We have been here before, in 2002, but then the weather was so bad that we quickly left the battlefield and fled into the car.
We won't tell the whole history here, but shortly: the Jacobites were followers of the family of Charles Stuart. The family had claimed the throne for more than 60 years now and Bonnie Prince Charles as he was also called, wanted to regain the throne, something his father had failed to. Against all judgment, he came to Scotland, acquired many supporters and within the first year his army achieved victory in all battles against the English, unexpectedly. The army even got within 200 kilometers from London.
But in the winter the Jacobites pulled back and many men who were forced to join a case they really didn't care for, deserted and returned to their clans. At Culloden, a marshy area, the remaining army of 3000 men was crushed, suffering 1200 deads within one hour. Now we can see the memorials and stones with the names of the clans engraved as a memory to that black day in the history of Scotland.
The English punished the Scots severely: bagpipes were forbidden, as the wearing of tartans, the typical Scottish attire. Clans were being persecuted and the whole way of life disrupted. Some historians say that Scotland, and especially the Highlands, have changed since that day and have never recovered from this defeat. The historical awareness of Scotsmen is big and proud as they are on their ancestry, they are still looking for their own identity which was lost partly on that day.
From the cold and windy plain of Culloden we drive on to Cawdor Castle. The last time we were here, the castle was closed. It is open now, but we are happy just to look at it from the outside and walk through the immense gardens.
Cawdor is known as the castle where MacBeth is supposed to have killed Duncan in order to get the Scottish throne. There is only one small problem: MacBeth murdered Duncan in 1040 and Cawdor Castle was built in the 14th century. The murder probably took place in Inverness Castle.
And since we are busy with castles anyway, we drive on to Brodie Castle. We want to have a look inside since there is a large quantity of art, with Dutch masters as well, but unfortunately the castle is closed on fridays and saturdays, so we have to be satisfied with a walk around the castle. It looks quite small but we know how big such castles often are on the inside.
We are near the town of Forres and there we take a break. At a pizzeria we can sit outside in the sun and we can take our coats off. What strikes us about this place is the number of large churches, we count at least six, while less than 10,000 people live here.When we leave the sheltered inner court of the pizzeria we feel how cold it really is: the thermometer in the car tells us that it is only 10 degrees outside! It starts to rain a bit, but soon the sun is back. We decide to drive around for a few more hours looking for unexpected things.
Like this church at Rafford. We have seen it before, but then we didn't know exactly where we were. The Romanesque building stands outside the village on a very nice spot. There are lots of churches like this one in Scotland, you see them everywhere: rectangular with a tower at the head with a few turrets on top.
Then we continue towards Lochindorb. A narrow road goes around the loch and we have heard there should be a castle ruin somewhere. We only see this crumbled wall on a small island (to the right) and that is all that remains of the castle. Once, at the end of the 14th century, a very cruel lord must have lived here, Alexander Stewart, also called the wolf of Badenoch, who had no problems bleeding his subjects dry, or raping and killing them. The past of Scotland isn't as romantic as we often want to believe...Back at Beauly, we are presented with a delicious meal (we aren't used to that, at home). We meet more people in the pub and the cosiness makes that we are, again, much later in bed than we wanted. But they say there is no time like a happy time and we have the luck that we can sleep late, tomorrow. No fixed breakfast times in the Caley!