The Highlands Leg will cover much ground with overnights in Inverness, Oban, Edinburgh and the magnificent Isle of Iona! Along the way we will visit incredible sites at Culloden, Loch Ness, Glen Coe, Kilmartin, the Isle of Mull and much more!
Fort George Following the 1746 defeat at Culloden of Bonnie Prince Charlie, George II created the ultimate defence against further Jacobite unrest. The result, Fort George, is the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, if not Europe. Its garrison buildings, artillery defences bristling with cannon, and superb collection of arms – including bayoneted muskets, pikes, swords and ammunition pouches – provide a fascinating insight into 18th century military life.
Urquhart Castle Perched on a promontory above Loch Ness, near the village with the quaint name of Drumnadrochit, these ruins remind us of the great sieges and battles over ownership of this strategic stronghold. Perhaps the ancient site of this 16th century ruin was visited by Columba and centuries later attacked by Wallace ally Robert de Moray and their mortal enemy Edward I. Robert the Bruce took the castle, and it changed hands numerous times through the centuries until rebuilt by Clan Grant and then finally lost to the Covenanters in the 1640s who drove out the last Episcopalian inhabitant and looted it.
Culloden The battlefield of 1745 between the clans supporting “Bonnie Prince Charlie” against the English King George II. As usual there were Scottish clans on both sides in the fight. The Highlanders lost, great slaughter ensued, and in the following years many Highlanders were transported or cleared from their lands. It was the last rising of the Scots against the English.
Loch Ness 23-miles long and more than 750 feet deep the loch contains more fresh water than all of England and Wales combined. It acquired world wide fame after reported sightings of a dinosaur-like creature allegedly spotted in its nocturnal perambulations an the surface. With high peat content, the waters of Loch Ness are murky and cold.
Glen Coe At this place in 1692, thirty-eight Catholic MacDonalds were massacred by their guests, royalist Campbells as reprisal for alleged failure to obey government mandated oaths of allegiance to William and Mary, the new monarchs of England. Another forty women and children died of exposure after their homes were burned.
Oban A beautiful Gaellic-speaking, sea-side town on the Firth of Lorn known for its fishing trade and distillery. It is from this port that we sail to the Isle of Mull in a comfortable and interesting ferry that plies the isles.
Dunadd An ancient hill fort, the capitol of the kingdom of Dal Riata, a site mentioned in 7th and 8th century documents. We will scale the sides of the hill to the top where we can view the entire Kilmartin Valley. We will tell the stories and see ancient carvings and the stone footprint where the ancient sea-kings were crowned.
Standing Stones and Cairns More than 350 standing stones and cairns some of which date back to 4,000 B.C. appear in the midst of sheep pastures over a six square mile valley. Little is known of the ancient kingdoms that existed here—probably in times of pagan Druids. We will stroll those pastures and marvel at the beauty and antiquity of civilizations which left no other record.
Carnasserie Castle Ruins Built by a Protestant Lord, John Carswell, during the Reformation, it is the site of the first Reformed literature translated into Gaelic so the Gospel in print could reach the highlanders. It became an assembly point for the Presbyterian McAlpins in the abortive Monmouth’s rebellion against King James. The Royalists blew it up.
Kilmartin Church and Cemetery The Church of Scotland congregation in the little Kilmartin Kirk sit above their ancient cemetery which dates back to the middle ages and beyond. There are centuries of interesting stories told in the stones of the markers—from exiled Templar Knights to Covenanters. Here we see the march of time as the Gospel came to Scotland.
Inveraray Castle The ancestral seat of the Dukes of Argyll, Chiefs of the Clan Campbell whose family have resided in Inveraray since the early 15th century, Inveraray Castle was designed by Roger Morris and decorated by Robert Mylne. Its fairytale façade houses an equally enchanting interior.
Duart Castle (Isle of Mull) This magnificent 13th century castle was home to McLeans and Campbells in the centuries past. Cromwell’s navy failed to capture it but the McLeans were forced to give it to the government after backing the failed Jacobite rebellion in 1745. Restored and open to the public now, it towers over the horizon on its ancient promontory. It has been used for the settings of several movies, one starring Sean Connery, who related to McLeans.
Island of Iona This storied island played host to the first great missionary endeavors led by Columba from Ireland in the sixth century. Christianity spread to the British Isles from this place, and probably into northern Europe as well. Overrun by the Vikings in the 8th and 9th centuries, missionary work persisted when the invaders left. Our visit to this gorgeous island that was the site God used to carry the Gospel to so many is one of our most precious visits in Scotland.