Today is the last full day in Scotland and there are 2 things I want to see/do. First, to visit the Culloden Battlefield just a few miles southeast of Inverness. Then make my way further southeast to the village of Grantstown on Spey.
The Battle of Culloden spelled the end of the Jacobite Revolution in Scotland. The Jacobites were mainly a collection of Highland Clans engaged in what essentially was a civil war against the English Kingdom. They were rejecting being ruled from London and were fighting to reinstall a Scottish throne. Having had a growing number of successes against moderate government forces by relying on guerrilla warfare tactics, the Highlanders became a top focus of English forces. Leading generals and troops were called back from Europe. The Royal Navy was redirected to station off the coast of Inverness – and to blockade assistance the French were providing the Jacobites. The first and final engagement with these enhanced forces was in a large valley of heather near Culloden. The Jacobites were greatly outmanned, outgunned, and outmaneuvered. In about an hour it was all over. Thousands of Highlanders lay dead or injured. Those who fled were tracked down and slaughtered; a strategy that continued for months as the government troupes combed the Highlands with the intent of eliminating once and for all resistance from the Clans.
Ok, so I know there are gravestones spread throughout the Culloden battlefield marking the exact spot where members of the same clan were buried. The Clans formed individual regiments in the battle and therefore fell in close proximity to one another. After the battle, the government troupes forced the locals to bury the dead. The locals did there best to group the dead in clans before being buried in mass graves. Gravestones mark the exact spots of the mass graves of particular highland clans. Seeing the following stone was quite moving:
Nobody wants to end a nearly 2-week journey across the northern half of Scotland on such a somber note. So I figured the best thing to do after experiencing Culloden Battlefield – and before leaving early the next morning – would be to head to the Scotch Whisky country of Speyside – where the majority of Scotland’s distilleries are located.
I had enough time for a couple of stops. First was to the distillery of Glenfarclas – the makers of what Jamie Donaldson (day 1 in Edinburgh) said is the best scotch. Unfortunately, the next tour was an hour away. The lady at the front desk, noticing my disappointment, offered a dram of their 15-year-old scotch. Well, that tour was successful!
I headed further north along the Spey River Valley, which I discovered is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve traveled through. Rolling hills, farmland, and quaint villages flank both sides of this enchanting river. Trout fishing shops were located in every town. The distilleries use the sparking clean water that comes from the surrounding mountain streams for their distilling needs.
The next and final stop of the trip was to the most successful family run scotch distiller in the world – Glenfiddich. And this time I arrived just minutes before the next tour. Distillery tours, whether beer or whisky, is pretty much the same…water, grain, yeast, time. The grounds were beautiful and the tour was well done….Especially the samples of Glenfiddich’s 12, 15, and 18-year-old offerings at the end. A great way to end the journey!
One last image: This is what the front seats of my car looked like since picking it up on Sept. 10th.