I think I’ve mentioned that I am a bit of a nerd. In high school this it used to bother me when people called me that, but now, I’ve learned to embrace it. Need a random historical fact? I’m your girl. I also have a tendency to get emotionally attached to characters in books that I read. They are real people to me. A lot of what I read is historical fiction, so I often feel like I know the people behind all the dull facts you are supposed to memorize in school. That’s another reason why I can’t really understand people who don’t like history, because, to me, the people who created history are very much real.
Anyways, all of this played a part in why, I chose Scotland as the first stop, on my first trip. I am Scottish by decent, and while this played into it, another large reason for my visit is because of characters from books I had been reading. (This also helped fuel my desire to travel alone, because I assumed others wouldn’t want to visit many of the places I wanted to.)
I don’t know if you have seen, or heard of the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon (Starz is now doing a show, which is remarkably accurate). I feel as if these characters are my personal friends, and talk about Jamie and Claire as if we see each other and enjoy a wee dram of whisky on the weekends. (Especially ridiculous because I hate whiskey) The books begin in Jacobite Scotland before the rising of 1745. While this rising is no more than a blip in most history books, (especially those here in the U.S.) the effects are profound and still evidenced today almost than 300 years later. The latest vote just a few weeks ago for Scotland to be independent?? Directly caused by and related to this failed rebellion.
Seen near Edinburgh castle:
While in Edinburgh I visited many places that were important in these books, and I felt as if I could see things as they once were. (Edinburgh also has some great Harry Potter sites.)
Chapel ruins at Hollyrood (the queen still stays here!)
After Edinburgh, I headed to Inverness and the area around it. I hated Inverness. It was a cold unhappy industrial city with none of Edinburgh’s charm. Culloden isn’t an easy day trip. This is the field where Scottish dreams of independence, and the whole fabric of Scottish culture was finally destroyed. Bonnie prince Charlie and his ill-fated supporters stood here, and were brutally slaughtered. Afterwords the British army decided they would put an end to the chance of the Scots ever rebelling again. Clan lifestyle, Gallic (their language) weapons, and the wearing of your families tartan and kilts were outlawed. Visiting the battle field is a haunting sobering experience. And the innocent wildflowers that dot the field, belay the savagery and heroism that took place here.
Jamie’s clan stone:
A short car ride, or a slightly longer walk (the countryside is beautiful here, if you can, walk!) there is a Neolithic stone sight. These cairns dot the countryside across Great Brittain, however for readers of Outlander these particular stones are important. They are “Claire’s stones”, and while walking around them I met a group of travelers also there on a Outlander pilgrimage. They kindly offered me a lift back to the battlefield, which I readily accepted.
Unfortunately,there were no bees for me. (read the books!!!)
The next day, I visited Loch Ness. While mentioned in the Outlander books, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t mainly there to see if I could glimpse “Nessie”. I visited the ruins of Urquet castle, and then, went on a Nessie hunting boat trip. Scotland is a place that lends itself to legends. It’s haunting and beautiful and the home of faerie, water-horses, selkies, and wee-beasties (as Nessie is sometimes called) Loch Ness is breathtaking, and even though it’s a famous tourist spot, it still seems sleepy and undeveloped.
I’d fallen in love with Scotland, her people, and her history (her food, on the other hand, not so much). Reluctantly I board an overnight bus, a mere eight hours away is my next stop: London!
Down by the loch: