Thursday, July 31, 2014

Too early for the heather…

The chorus to one of our favorite Scottish songs we love to hear goes…

Let the Irish sing of their Em'rld Isle
Where the four leav'd shamrock grows,
Let the English praise their valleys and braes,
And the bonny blooming rose,
But give me the land of the heather and the kilt,
The mountain and the river,
For the blood leaps in my veins
When I hear the bagpipe's strains
Scotland, dear old Scotland forever!

We have truly come to love Scotland and all its beauty…

We recently scheduled a trip to the Scottish Highlands with the goal to see the “heather on the hills”.  Unfortunately we were a wee bit early and the heather was just barely beginning to bloom.  No worries…what that means is there will be no pictures of heather in this post, but another trip is scheduled soon to see the heather.

We started our trip with some friends from Glenrothes and stopped at 3-4 little fishing villages along the northern coast of the Firth of Forth. 

We ended up in Anstruther (another fishing village) for dinner at a fish shop that has been voted “best fish & chips in the UK”.  The line was out the door with people waiting both to “sit in” and “take away”.  The company was grand and the fish suppers were superior.

We then started our trip to search for the heather.  We drove through Perth to Pitlochry and up the A9 to Inverness.  The scenery was wonderful but as I said, the heather just wasn’t ready to bloom.  We stayed overnight in Inverness.  The next morning we drove out to where the Battle of Culloden was fought on April 16, 1746.

 This is the River Ness running through Inverness...

On one side was the Jacobite army, determined to reclaim the throne of Britain for its Stuart king – Charles Edward Stuart, also referred to as “Bonnie Prince Charlie” - and on the other was the army of the British government – led by the Duke of Cumberland – equally determined to quash its opponents.  

 These are some grave markers from the Battle

Culloden was the last full-scale battle to be fought on British soil and the culmination of the last Jacobite Rising.  The Jacobites supported the Stuart line of kings which had ruled Scotland for centuries and had united Scotland and England.  The English Act of Settlement of 1701 required the monarch to be Protestant.  When Queen Anne died with no immediate successor the crown passed to Anne’s second cousin, the Elector of Hanover: King George I.  Charles campaign at Culloden was to overthrow the Hanover King and return rule to the Stuarts.

The troops of Prince Charles were badly outnumbered.  The Battle of Culloden only lasted about an hour and it was a devastating defeat for Charles.  Around 1,250 of his troops were dead and a similar number were wounded.  By contrast the government forces suffered only around 50 fatalities with less than 300 wounded.

We left the battle field of Culloden and drove down the west shore of Loch Ness to the Urquhart Castle (pronounced Er cart).  This is a beautiful setting.  We looked for the Loch Ness monster, but no luck on this trip.  The journey continued down Loch Ness to Fort William, through the valley of Glencoe, and home to Edinburgh.

Urquhart Castle

 Glencoe...the sight of another battle - the McDonalds and the Campbells...but that is a story for another day.

No comments:

Post a Comment