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You’re planning to visit the Scottish Highlands but you’re not sure where to start and what to do?  Well look no further…

Visit Inverness Loch Ness has created a 4 day itinerary for those who like history and heritage.

Day 1 – Clava Cairns and Culloden Battlefield

Clava Cairns. The itinerary starts at Clava Cairns, 6 miles outside Inverness. This free of charge attraction is the site of an exceptionally well preserved group of prehistoric burial cairns that were built about 4,000 years ago. The Bronze Age cemetery complex comprises of passage graves, ring cairns, kerb cairn, standing stones in a beautiful setting and the remains of a chapel of unknown date.

But Outlander fans beware. The Bronze Age burial complex contains a large “split stone”. So if you are passing through on Beltane and hear the stones begin to buzz, proceed with caution!

Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre. On April 16th 1746, the historic battle of Culloden took place – the last pitched battle on British soil, and one which changed life in the Highlands and Islands forever.

A visit to the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre is a chance to get a feel for this historic event. With a new interactive exhibition, a battle immersion theatre, and the battlefield itself now restored as close as possible as to how it was on the fateful day of the battle, this event is brought to life with audio and video guides.

Day 2 – Fort George, Cawdor and Tomatin

Fort George and Highlanders’ Museum. Day two starts at one of Europe’s mightiest artillery fortifications – Fort George. This enormous military base dates back to the 18th century, and is protected by almost 1.6KM (1 mile) of massive walls.

Defences bristling with cannons, historic barrack rooms, a superb collection of weapons and the peaceful Regimental Chapel are among the many fascinating attractions. And the recently refurbished Highlanders’ Museum is home to the largest number of military artefacts outside London – telling the story of the Highland Regiments from just after the Battle of Culloden up to the present day.

Cawdor Castle. Approximately 15 minutes’ drive away is Cawdor Castle – a fairytale castle, and home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor. With its low doorways, turnpike stairs, rare tapestries and original kitchen it offers a step back in time for those keen to learn more about Scottish history. Outside the castle walls, garden lovers can enjoy spending a few hours exploring the herbaceous borders, roses, rhododendrons and the rare blue poppy in Cawdor’s three outstanding gardens.

And after enjoying a nature trail amongst the splendid trees in Cawdor Big Wood, what better way to recharge one’s energy than with a slice of delicious slice of cake, or a mouth watering meal, made from the finest local ingredients, at the Cawdor Courtyard Restaurant and Clubhouse Coffee Shop?

Tomatin Distillery. A perfect opportunity for a taste of Scotland comes in the form of whisky at Tomatin distillery and visitor centre, just 16 miles south of Inverness, this is a great opportunity to stop off and experience one of three tours which demonstrate the whisky making process and give visitors a chance to sample the produce.

Visitors can choose from the Legacy Tour, the taste of Tomatin Tour on the Single Cask Experience, all of which show different elements of this fascinating distillery.

Day 3 – Beauly and Loch Ness

Beauly Priory. Beauly Priory is one of three priories founded in Scotland in about 1230 for monks of the Valliscaulian order. The Valliscaulian came from Val-des-Choux (“Valley of Cabbages”) near Dijon in France, and adhered to strict ideals of poverty, chastity and obedience. Now all that remains is the ruins of a pretty, tree-fringed abbey church but it offers a fascinating step back in time to where the monks and their successors lived for 300 years. Beauly Priory is free to visit.

Campbell’s of Beauly. Looking for off the peg tweed coats, jackets, skirts and plus fours? Look no further!

Campbell’s of Beauly is packed with original fittings and traditional work counters giving it a unique feel and sense of history. With its reputation for stocking the finest knitwear, which is all knitted in the Scottish borders and Aberdeenshire, and with a wide range of colours and styles available in cashmere, geelong lambswool, Shetland wool and merino, there is no finer place to stock up Scottish countrywear!

Urquhart Castle. Either as a part of a boat tour, or as a trip in its own right, to visit Urquhart Castle is to discover more than 1,000 years of history perched on the edge of Loch Ness.

Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart saw great conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress. Control of the castle passed back and forth between the Scots and English during the Wars of Independence. Blown up during the Jacobite Risings, Urquhart’s iconic ruins now remain, offering glimpses into medieval times and the lives of its residents. Visitors can climb the Grant Tower, peer into a prison cell and admire the full sized working trebuchet to get a real feel of how life was when the castle was a hive of activity and drama.

Day 4 – Inverness

Inverness Walking Tour. A walking tour is a great way to get to know a city – and with 10,000 years of history, Inverness has many a tale to tell.

WOW Scotland runs a fascinating bespoke tour which starts at the end of the last ice age right up to the present day via a tsunami and earthquakes, Pictish kings, Christian missionaries, power hungry clan chiefs, witchcraft, prophecies, battles, deceit, murder, corruption, slavery and opium dealing – and that’s just for starters!

The tour will also show some fascinating (and sometimes gruesome) places, which many locals don’t even know about, including a church used for executions, the building where the story of the Loch Ness monster began, the grave of the son of the Devil and the place where the last witches were “legally” executed!

Inverness Castle View Point. With a taster of the city’s history, now it’s time to get a bird’s eye view at the Castle Viewpoint – the newest visitor attraction in Inverness offering fabulous 360 degree views of the Highland Capital and the surrounding scenery.

On the way to the top, visitors can enjoy a taste of the most famous myths associated with the city, including the Brahan Seer, the legendary 17th Century highland mystic – many of whose prophecies actually came true and St. Columba, who met and banished the monster from River Ness thus beginning the legend of Nessie.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. With feet back on ground level, a visit to the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery gives a fascinating insight into the history of the Highlands and its people.

From the museum’s timeline, which shows how the unique highland landscape was formed, to learning about the importance of Gaelic language and culture, there is plenty to discover and enjoy. Visitors can feel the weight of the Achavrail bronze armlet, play the games of Merells or Hnefetafl, learn how to say some Gaelic words and phrases or wrap themselves up in an 18th century style highland kilt, before exploring the Highland Photographic Archive. The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is free of charge.

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Post by Linda Dumpe

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