In the morning, our bus used a bridge to return to the mainland, instead of taking the ferry again. We continued north to the famous Inverewe Gardens, located on the northwest corner of the Scottish mainland, in the same latitude as Labrador, and not that far south of the Arctic Circle. How can subtropical plants grow in such a seemingly hostile, windswept environment? The answer is the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, which flow northward from the Gulf of Mexico, past the eastern U.S., then turning eastward to the western coasts of Ireland and Scotland. The result is mild, humid weather in that region.
The gardens were first planted by Osgood Mackenzie in the 1860's. He had just inherited land, and wanted a walled garden to raise vegatables, fruit and flowers. He later brought in plants from all over the world for his, by now, over 100 acres of woodland. Here are my photos of just a small area this amazing place. The last picture is of a common tree in Scotland, the Rowan. In North America, it's called Mountain Ash.
After lunch, we headed north again, towards Loch Ness and Inverness, the Highlands capital. Here are some pictures I took along the way, including a pretty little town where we stopped for refreshment.
Now, I am on a motorboat, on........(gasp!) Loch Ness!!!!!!! Will we see the monster? Along one bank of the lake are the ruins of and old castle. By the way, this is the largest freshwater lake in Britain, and parts are 800 feet deep.
Well, no "Nessie" that day. We arrived at our hotel in Inverness to find a wedding celebration taking over the entire lobby area. I took a photo of the bride, and another of a little guy wearing a kilt. Isn't he cute?
In the morning, we headed out for a major battlefield. The battle of Culloden sealed the fates of the Scottish clans. They had rallied to the call of "Bonnie Prince Charlie," who by birth had some claim to the throne in London. But the Scots were soundly defeated by English forces led by the Duke of Cumberland on April 16, 1746. The clansmen were outnumbered and were slaughtered. The wounded were killed and all of the Scottish dead were mutilated to prevent them from being identified by relatives. Later, orders went out forbidding the wearing of the tartan or the playing of bagpipes. The clans were eventually driven off their lands, and the old way of life in Scotland disappeared.
The first picture is of a hut near the battlefield. The old man who lived there was killed. Then, a display in the museum showing typical English and clan soldiers. The fifth picture is of the battlefield itself. It has been carefully replanted to look very much as it did in 1746.
After we left Culloden, we headed for a tour of a scotch whiskey distillery. No photos were allowed inside, but the entire process from hops to the final product was shown to us. It was fascinating. It only takes 14 employees to run the entire operation! I did get an interesting photo in a field near the distillery. Here is a Highland cow.
Next, we headed south through the Grampian Mountains to the area where the British Royal Family spends their summer holidays (no, I didn't run into The Queen) and on to the town of Braemar, home for 900 years to the Royal Highland Games.