Tag Archives: Inverness

Culloden Moor & More!

Arriving by divine providence and safety from the train depot in Inverness to our Open Views guest house is definitely a miracle.  It all seems a blur to me now and I still have to get back to the depot somehow on the 5th!  Nevertheless, we were not meeting our host until 4:30, so we went back to the Culloden Moor Battlefield site.  We had visited this three years ago, but when we were on a tour bus and it arrived too late for us to enjoy the new visitor centre which gave a lot more information regarding the slaughter of so many Highlanders during this botched campaign.

We met our Open Views host and were settled in shortly, then drove her back to Tesco, where we did a bit of shopping and she caught the bus home.  Back to the house, fixed supper, and settled in for the evening.

Wednesday, we took a long drive about.  Visiting Forres, home of the Falconer Museum,  a tribute to Hugh Falconer.

Falconer Museum, Forres, Moray October 1, 2015
Falconer Museum, Forres, Moray
October 1, 2015

No relation to me, but I had to have a photo in front of museum carrying my maiden name!

Then around and through the country to drive through Dallas, Moray, Scotland.

Dallas in Dallas, Moray October 1, 2014
Dallas in Dallas, Moray October 1, 2014

Beautiful country of course, through and around back to Inverness and our home.

Thursday, we had a blast with tree hiking at the RothemurchusTreezone and quad bike trekking on Rothiemurchus Estates in Aviemore.  No photos of the tree hiking because the boys made me carry the camera and, of course, i was way behind, they left me in the dust!  Yes, they managed the entire course nicely, BUT, I, too  made it through both courses and never slipped off any obstacles.  Okay, now two days later, I’m still sore!  But, it was fun – I’d do that again.  The quad trekking was well done with an engaging and friendly guide, but it was not what I expected.  I had hoped for a tour of the farm, etc, but instead we just sped along the streams and track as one would do if they were just riding four-wheelers for fun.  We had beautiful weather for this outing.

Nathan on the Quad at Rothiemurchus
Nathan on the Quad at Rothiemurchus

Afterwards, we took the time to drive as far as we could to the top of the Cairngorm Mountain range.

Toyoto Argo at the top of the Cairngorm Mountains October 1, 2014
Toyoto Argo at the top of the Cairngorm Mountains October 1, 2014

We purchased enough food at the Rothiemurchus Farm Store to cover our meals for the remainder of our stay.  The beef was from grass-finished Scottish Highland cattle raised on the estates as well as the venison.  Other items were produced by local families.  All very good.  More expensive for sure than Tesco or the Co-op, but I like to support local community efforts when I can.  I’m going to admit it – I like haggis!

Friday and Saturday, we pretty much rested in our guest home.  I was pretty sore through my chest, arms, and shoulders even into Saturday!  We took a few short exploratory walks around the area, but pretty much lazed about.  We did go to the petrol station and fuel up so i wouldn’t have to worry with it on our departure Sunday morning.  Also,  tried with no success in finding accommodation for the remainder of our trip.   Even this time of year, some areas of Scotland are packed!

Clava Cairns, Culloden 2 Oct 14
Clava Cairns, Culloden 2 Oct 14

We set off early enough Sunday morning to catch our 9:59 am train to Aberdeen.  The boys are usually frustrated with me because I tend to arrive early and then we wait – in this case, nearly an hour, however,  stuff happens to cause delays, so I’d rather have a cushion of time before scheduled departures.  There was very little traffic this Sunday morning, so we drove straight on in with no mishap this time.  We took photos of the car, locked it, and threw the keys in the boot and off we went.  No problem collecting our rail boarding passes at the kiosk and the train was spot on time for Aberdeen.

Scrabster-Thurso-Inverness

We arrived just before dark into Scrabster.  It felt like we had dragged our luggage a half a mile from the ship to the terminal – it honestly would be pretty close to that!  We called a cab and he took us to the Station Hotel located quite near the train station in Thurso.  Our young driver was very anxious to get out of such a small town and off to uni at Inverness to study to become a minister.

Other than the Castle of Mey and Dunnet Head, we found little else to do in this area.  Since no cars were available to hire, we struck out for the info store and museum.  The girl there was very helpful and gave us a bus timetable and told us how to navigate our way to the above mentioned venues.  Since we had gotten up late and a slow start – time was precious.  But with taking the bus, this meant a LOT of walking and quickly, too.

Our first stop out of Thurso was the Castle of Mey – our driver drove right on past the drop off, but as soon as he did, i asked him if that was where we needed off.  He apologised profusely for forgetting – no worries, he let us off and we walked back only maybe 100 ft to the entrance to the castle.

Former home of the Queen Mother (the mother of the current queen).  Prince of Wales still comes to stay for a break end of August for a week or so.  This is a working farm with prize winning Aberdeen-Angus cattle raised.
Former home of the Queen Mother (the mother of the current queen). Prince of Wales still comes to stay for a break end of August for a week or so. This is a working farm with prize winning Aberdeen-Angus cattle raised.

However, we still had a half mile to go to the castle.  We only had time for the castle tour, then we had to jog back to the end of the driveway and hopefully flag down the bus.  Hooray, he stopped to pick us up, then another half hour to the Brough bus stop.  This was as close as the bus gets to Dunnet Head.  Just before arrival at Brough, we had to shut down the bus and wait for a herd of cows to move down and across the road.

Glad that I sat in the front seat of the bus to capture this shot.  There was only one other person on the bus, so we were up front chatting with the driver.
Glad that I sat in the front seat of the bus to capture this shot. There was only one other person on the bus, so we were up front chatting with the driver.

Now we hoof it uphill for the next three miles on asphalt road.  We only had two hours before the next bus back to town, so we did hurry; even took a ‘shortcut’ through the heather and grass.  Good experience in learning why that sort of land is unproductive – wow!  it is incredibly boggy with deep washouts under the native grasses.  At least where the heather is, it will support your weight.  Even a short distance (albeit a steep hill) through the bog and I was severely short of wind.

After that, we met a shepherd training both sheep and dog, moving them in a serpentine pattern down the hill. Finally, at the top, the views were fabulous.  Making the trek to Dunnet Head is well worth the effort, but i do not recommend walking unless you can do so at a more leisurely rate.  Better yet, get a car!

View from Dunnet Head - most northerly point of Great Britain (excepting islands).  Here looking at Orkney Island over the Pentland Firth.
View from Dunnet Head – most northerly point of Great Britain (excepting islands). Here looking at Orkney Island over the Pentland Firth.
View from Dunnet Head towards the southeast.
View from Dunnet Head towards the southeast.
Nathan Powell
Nathan Powell

The return was easier since we were going downhill but we were still glad to reach the bus stop to sit and rest.  After a bit, the bus went flying by!  Thankfully, my frantic waving and running after it, the driver finally stopped and we jogged a bit down the road to board.  Whew!  Another two hours before the next bus!  We chatted all the way back to Thurso with this driver.  He’d been driving this route for ten years and NEVER had anyone been waiting at that stop for pickup!  He thought, at first, that we were just being friendly with waving!  Our driver had moved to this area to drive a bus and build a farm ten years ago.  He was only going to drive for four months; he was a former lecturer of mechanical engineering at a University, then he tried teaching high school and it was too stressful.  Currently, he is planting 24,000 trees on his 100 acres and all the cattle and sheep are sold.  Once his trees are fenced, he plans to raise deer.

Being escorted by Cheviot and Cheviot cross ewes down the track from Dunnet Head.
Being escorted by Cheviot and Cheviot cross ewes down the track from Dunnet Head.
Resident shepherd, packing a ewe with a uterine prolapse.
Resident shepherd, packing a ewe with a uterine prolapse.

After drop off in Thurso, we stopped for local ice cream, then walked back to our hotel.  Dallas and I went to find the train station in preparation for tomorrow’s departure, then we walked to the Co-op and bought enough food for supper.

Next morning, we enjoy another lovely breakfast at the hotel – well Dallas didn’t, he had a headache and not feeling well.  He drank a lot of water, then went to rest a bit whilst Nathan and i finished brecky.  He was already feeling better when we returned – probably dehydrated.   Went to catch our train at the appointed time, albeit without boarding passes because the station doesn’t open for two hours after our departure and there are no self-ticketing kiosks.  About 20 of us waiting and the train never shows.  A girl called the Scotrail customer service and come to find out, the train driver just didn’t show up for work!  Scotrail sent a bus to pick us all up. RIding a bus on a train route is quite scenic and tests the skills of the driver to be sure.  We arrived about 30 minutes late to the train depot in Inverness.  Picked up our car, a Toyoto Aygo from Focus Rental and I promptly tried to kill ourselves by going up a highway exit ramp.  Okay, got out of that, move on, don’t screw up again!  Staying at Open Views guest house.