We start the day at Inverness Castle, the home, for the moment, of the Sheriff Courthouse. The building, fairly modern, by Scottish standards, was built in the early nineteenth century and is on the site of the original Fort George, blown up by the Jacobite Army. In front of the Castle, and looking Westward to see if her beloved Prince Charles Edward has escaped finally to France, is the statue of the Highland Heroine, Flora MacDonald and her collie, Dileas. A wonderful view over the River Ness and St Andrew’s Cathedral is afforded from here.
On now to Clava Burial Cairns. Three rings of Standing Stones each surrounding a burial Cairn, a tall stone at the first circle and a cracked stone at the third, together with the spiritual atmosphere of this 4,000 year old cemetery, are surely the inspiration for Creag Na Dun and Claire’s passage through the portal to 1743.
Less than a mile away lies Culloden Battlefield with its grim history and an award winning Visitor Centre. Here the romantic and tragic events of the 16th of April 1746 were enacted, changing forever the Highland way of life and recording the last pitched battle to have been fought on Scottish, or indeed British soil.
On our way to visit Fort George we stop briefly at Culloden House. Although today an hotel, the building is instantly recognised as being virtually identical to the one filmed in the series where Bonnie Prince Charlie spent two nights before the fateful battle, occupying, no less, the bedroom of a wealthy merchant and senior legal judge in the British Government, who was away from home raising troops to fight for the Hanoverian King George! This is the actual house.
Arriving at the mighty Fort George we are reminded of the terrible scenes in “Outlander” where Jamie was flogged, and worse, by Captain Jack. Although depicted as happening at Fort William this Fort is the only surviving “monument” to the three destroyed, named after the King’s sons, George, Augustus and William. The Fort was built at a cost of £246,000 in the wake of the Battle of Culloden and is still an active military garrison, home to the Black Watch Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Travelling back through Inverness we stop briefly at the Old High Church Yard to witness where Jacobite prisoners were executed while potentially their kin may have watched from the other side of the river. Balnain House was at the time a hospital for British soldiers recovering from their wounds.
We then travel along the shores of the Beauly Firth to the lands of Clan Fraser and the ancient seat of the Earls of Lovat. We arrive first at Wardlaw Mausoleum. Here in the crypt a contemporary drama recently unfolded. Simon the Fox, (nominally Jamie’s grandfather) was a Government supporter and a double agent, spying for the Jacobites and for the Hanoverians. He had the distinction of being the last man ever to be executed on Tower Hill in London. The authorities at the Tower claim to have the headless corpse of “The Last Highlander” as Simon became to be known. The Fraser family thought otherwise. The presumed remains were recently the subject of a forensic investigation by Dame Sue Black the process of which was filmed as a TV documentary. We will reveal the outcome on your visit! This is a very special privilege to be able to visit the family crypt and is by courtesy of the caretakers of the Mausoleum. A donation to the upkeep of the site is usual but voluntary.
The Beauly Priory, founded by monks from Dijon in France is next on the agenda. This was the burial place of both the Fraser chiefs, before Wardlaw was built. Many notable Mackenzies chose here for their last resting place as well. It is also the scene of Jamie and Claire’s departure to France. The building suffered many ravages, notably by Oliver Cromwell who destroyed many holy places and, at great cost, brought the stones to Inverness to build his short lived Citadel there. The Priory was visited by Mary Queen of Scots who remarked “Beau Lieu” a beautiful place although the name of the town is believed to mean “The place of the Monks”
Our last call of the day is Castle Leod at Strathpeffer. Depending on the date of your tour , this may only be a photo opportunity after a short walk up the drive. This is the real life home of John, Earl of Cromartie and Lady Cromartie, the modern and hereditary chief of Clan MacKenzie. The Castle has a few open days during the season. They are advertised on the Castle’s website and there is a special “Outlander” tour available when open. Your Driver/guide will explain the fascinating series of events predicted by a Gaelic seer which occasioned the chieftainship passing from the House of Seaforth to the House of Cromartie.
||Destination of your choice in Scotland (supplement fee may apply for long distant pickup/drop off)
||Available at anytime. Tour duration is approximately 8 hours
||Duration of your is determined by the amount of time spent by passengers at each venue. Additional hours charged at £40 per hour Sterling for a saloon car up to 3 passengers or £50 per hour Sterling for a minibus up to 7 passengers.
| Professional Guide
|| Ask about the “Craic”
| Bespoke Tours
|| Culturally Aware
| Music Linked
|| Ancestry Conscious
| Geographically Structed
|| Pre-Planned Photostops
|Entry fee to visitor centres
||Meals not incuded