Today we continue our Scotland adventures with Day 3’s activities. That morning we left Edinburgh and drove toward the highlands because you can’t visit Scotland and not go to the infamous highlands – especially if you’re an Outlander or historical romance fan! After a few hours on the highway we decided to try an exit to find some lunch. We ended up driving a bit further from the highway than we’d anticipated and ended up in a lovely, tiny country town with lovely old homes.
We spotted this hotel which advertised food on the window so we stopped there. While their dining room had the perfect highland hunting lodge look, it didn’t open for lunch so we moved on.
There was a small market near where we had parked and I noticed this dog patiently waiting for his owner who had gone inside. A few school children passed by to pick up a snack and gave him a pat on the head. Figuring there wasn’t much else around and not wanting to detour from the highway once we got back to it, we opted to find something simple here and take it with us.
The GPS indicated there was a historical park a few miles down the road and since it was such a lovely day I suggested we stop there to eat picnic style. The park turned out to be quite large with numerous displays of historic buildings and machinery. And when I heard that it had been an Outlander filming location we just had to explore a bit more. There were stone and thatch structures from old farms and turn of the century shops which had been moved to this site for preservation.
There was also a woodworking shop bearing Jaime Fraser’s surname that I just had to investigate. There was no sign of Red Jaime, but it was still interesting to see all the old tools.
The area where they had filmed the Outlander scenes was a small village toward the back of the property. To get there we had a relaxing walk through the woods.
Along the way we spotted these various wildlife carvings. I’m not sure who did them or why but I really enjoyed them.
The path led us to a small pond. I could have relaxed here all day, but I had Outlander sights to see and that was more important.
Around another bend was a pen of these curly haired pigs. I’d seen similar breeds before but the Hubs was quite intrigued by their coats. They seemed less interested in us since we didn’t have any food for them.
Nearby there was an old saw mill, complete with a mannequin worker.
At last we arrived at the village site. It was worth the walk and made you feel transported to another time. I can see why they chose to use it in the “Collecting the rents” episode.
The village covered a fairly large area and there were only a few spots where the modern world had to be disguised, so the cameras could shoot in a variety of angles.
Inside the structures there were elements of what daily life would have been like here, including a basket of dung chips to keep the fire going. Many of the buildings were quite dark inside due to the thatch roofs and limited windows, so I didn’t get many good pictures of those aspects.
We still had a few other sights still to see that day so we headed back toward the highway and further north to Culloden, the famous battlefield where the Jacobite Army suffered their massive defeat. This battle is a central point in the Outlander story and is significant in Scotland history – much like America’s Gettysburg.
We paid our admission fee and toured the historical displays in the welcome center where no photography was allowed, then made our way out to the battle field. The Leanach farmhouse stands at the corner of the battlefield, on the same location as a cottage that probably served as a field hospital for government troops following the battle.
At the time of the battle this was grazing land for the surrounding farms. Today there are foot paths blazed through the history that now soaks this earth.
There are markers at various points to indicate where the opposing front lines were and turning points of the battle.
This line of flags indicate where the front lines of the government troops were located as the battle began.
As we wandered the paths, a storm started to roll in but it was preceded by a fantastic rainbow over the visitor’s center. Perhaps both were symbols of the changes this land has seen.
In 1881 headstones were placed to mark the mass graves of fallen Jacobite soldiers by clan. They sit along an early 19th-century road which runs through the battlefield. There were several to see, but one in particular I was searching for.
And then I saw it. The Fraser headstone. It was obviously one of the most popular based on the flowers and coins left on the stone. I wondered if that was because of Outlander’s popularity or if there were just more visitors of that heritage.
At the end of the row of headstones is this memorial cairn, erected in 1881 by Duncan Forbes, the owner of Culloden House and the descendant of a key figure on the government side in 1746.
I discovered this painted rock on the back of the memorial cairn. It’s a reminder of the significance of this battle in Scottish history and the impact it still has today.
The storm was drawing closer, and we still wanted to make it Loch Ness before nightfall so we made our way back to the visitor center along the trails as the wind whispered through the brush.
Thanks to some speedy driving, we arrived at Loch Ness just before sunset. Of course we had to had to have proof that this was the real Loch Ness and not just some random lake, so I had the Hubs pose with the sign and then enjoyed listening to the water lap at the shore as we watched for Nessie.
Nessie didn’t appear, perhaps because we were standing next to the Nessie Hunter station. It was already closed up but I guess Nessie didn’t want to take any chances.
The remnants of an old dock and the shadows of the birds floating among them did make us look twice a few times as we walked the shoreline.
Sitting at the end of the lake, the Dores Inn was the first establishment we found along the road where we could park and access the lake. They had a wonderful garden space in the back where guests can watch the lake as they eat during good weather. The storm we had just missed at Culloden had apparently hit here first so everything was wet, but we didn’t mind since we had limited light to enjoy.
Next to the garden is this Nessie statue that points out toward the lake. It’s quite a work of art, when you get up close to see all the individual pieces that make it up.
There was also a flower similar to fireweed blooming along the shoreline. It made for a dreamy scene as the last rays of the sun faded.
I did a double take when I first spotted this piece of driftwood on the rocky beach of the house next to the Inn. At first I thought it might have been Nessie’s tail slithering back into the bushes.
One of the Inn’s staffers was cleaning up in the outdoor area and noted that some of the best shots he’s seen of the sculpture were right up next to the head with the water in the back ground, so we gave it a try. I’m not sure it’s quite life-like but it’s definitely a fun memento.
We watched the hills along the lake fade as the sun dipped below them, appreciating how lucky we were to be standing next to Loch Ness on a beautiful evening at sunset together.
With the last of the light gone, we headed around to the front entrance of the Inn to get dinner. Apparently it’s a very popular spot with the locals and tourists and reservations are required for the dining room. Our luck continued and we arrived just in time for a party leaving the bar where it was open seating.
There were so many options to choose from on the menu. I giggled to see some had notations that they may contain shot! I guess that means it’s fresh and local right?!
I couldn’t resist the opportunity and chose that for my entree. The hubs chose a steak. Both were delicious and we devoured them quickly.
Then came dessert. I don’t remember what either of these were called but mine had a pear and ice cream with the creme filled cookie and I ate every last crumb in satisfaction. The Hubs was a brownie with ice cream & sauce, which I sampled and approved of as well – although not as much as my selection.
As we had been eating I spotted several little Nessie figures available for sale on a shelf over the bar. This one gave me the look so I introduced myself to find out how much he would be. Because they are made by a local artist they require cash payment and we had just enough left, so he joined us at our table to await the hot chocolate I ordered because I just wasn’t ready to leave yet.
Little Ness sure thought my hot chocolate was impressive, and I confirmed that is was after the first sip.
We left the Inn and headed toward Inverness where we were staying for the night. Our hotel was a renovated stone mansion with plaid carpet and a skeleton key for the front door!
We were quite tired from our day of sights and adventures and fell asleep quickly despite the rowdy celebration going on in the ballroom on the ground floor of the hotel.
I swear the whole night I dreamed about sitting next to Loch Ness listening to the waves and watching for Nessie.