What better place to spend your birthday than in the beautiful Scottish Highlands in summer! A weekend in and around Inverness was definitely the best birthday present I could have asked for and I wish we could have stayed longer.
There is so much to love and do in the Scottish Highlands that the best way to share everything with you would be a three-part series highlighting all of our favourite spots. In this first post we will be immersing ourselves in all things Outlander, post number two will focus on Loch Ness and the surrounds and my final posts will be all about the beautiful Isle of Skye.
The Outlander Experience
You cannot go to the Highlands and Inverness and NOT immerse yourself in the Outlander experience. If you don’t know what Outlander is, watch the trailer below of the first season, you’ll be hooked before you know it!
Inverness is a beautiful old town on the banks of the river Ness. It’s also the town Claire visits before traveling back in time through the stones. Inverness sets the tone for everything that is the Highlands and the perfect place to start your Outlander tour. The town’s perfectly preserved coble streets, old buildings, and pubs transport you right back to a time long forgotten. Inverness itself is a small town and you can spend one morning walking its streets and see it all. Here are my highlights.
The Victorian Market
The Victorian Market is a beautiful undercover market dating back to the 1800’s where you can find anything from a good cup of coffee to flowers and fruits, to Scottish tartan and family crest shops. It’s a nice way to stroll from the train station to the centre of town.
Inverness Castle View
It costs £5 to go into the castle which we personally felt was a bit steep, but it’s worth making the steep trek up to the castle grounds for the beautiful view of the city and the river. Perfect photo opportunity.
Highland House of Fraser Kilt Shop
We spent way too much time in this shop, but it really is THE place to go for all things Scottish and Highland. If you have Scottish blood, like we do, you can find your family crest on a number of pins, tea towels, magnets and more. You can also find your family tartan and buy a scarf, or if you’re brave enough a kilt, to take home. The shop also offers a kilt making tour at the back. You can also feed your Outlander love by looking for the Fraser clan tartan.
The Battlefield of Culloden
The Battle of Culloden took place on the 16th of April 1746 when the Jacobites rose up against the British in support of Prince Charles Stuart, also called Bonnie Prince Charlie. Back then the battlefield was in the middle of nowhere and really wasn’t the best place to embark on a battle as it was more marsh than solid ground with the Jacobites having the worst vantage point of being downhill from the British. Today the battlefield is free to visit with a modern exhibition center which you have to pay to see. If you’re doing Scotland on a budget (like most of us young travelers) you can skip the exhibition and just visit the battlefield (although we did hear that the interactive exhibition is very good).
The lines where the two forces stood have been marked with flags and there are footpaths leading you along the whole way. Finally, you come to the graves which were put up for the fallen Scottish clans after the battle. There’s a true sense of sullenness in the space, especially knowing that after that battle the Scottish were never able to get the independence they so desperately wanted (and still want). For now you can still visit the Fraser grave (Jamie Fraser the main character from Outlander is from this clan), but apparently, the grave has started to sink because of all the visitors, so this might not be possible for much longer.
The final place you have to visit as an Outlander fan is the Cumberland Stones. These are the stones Claire touches and travels through time from the 1940’s back to 1700’s Scotland. You might be slightly disappointed to see that the stones don’t look exactly the way they do in the series (in the series they are on a hill and more in a Stone Hench formation), but these are the stones author of the series, Diana Gabaldon, wrote about.
The Cumberland Stones was actually an ancient clock used by people of the time during mid-winter and summer rituals. It’s incredible to see the stones and structures dotted across the field like that and you can’t help but wonder how these people managed to not only get the stones there but also keep them standing upright like that. Another mystical and magical place to visit and you can even touch the stone Claire touched, and who knows, maybe you’ll travel in time as well.
That’s it for part 1 of my Scottish Highlands tour. Keep an eye out for the next one all about Loch Ness and the beautiful Highland countryside.