There are many great historical places to go in Scotland, and many are concentrated in a small area just east of Inverness. So, if you’re planning a road trip, this Highland tour from Inverness will take you on a truly amazing journey. You’ll visit important heritage sites and major tourist attractions, whilst driving through the breathtakingly beautiful scenery of the Scottish Highlands.
You can complete this car tour in one day, starting and finishing in Inverness. The route is
around 32 miles long.
From Inverness, take the B9006 towards Culloden and Cawdor for 6 miles, to arrive at Culloden Battlefield. It was here on April the 16th 1746, that the Battle of Culloden took place. The Jacobites, led by Bonnie Prince Charlie, challenged the Hanoverian army, led by the Duke of Cumberland, for the throne. During the hour-long battle, almost 2000 men died, mostly Jacobites. Due to the aftermath and consequences of the Battle of Culloden, the Highlands changed forever. It was the last battle fought on British soil. And for many people, it’s still a very emotive subject.
The visitor centre here offers a highly innovative and interactive experience, including an ‘immersive theatre’. It also has a gift shop, a large restaurant and cafe area.
Less than 2 miles along the road is an attraction of a very different kind, Clava Cairns. One of Scotland’s most evocative pre-historic sites, Clava Cairns is the exceptional remains of an ancient cemetery. Built over 4000 years ago to house the dead, two parts of the complex are open all year round to the public, Balnuaran of Clava and Milton of Clava. Please note, there are no facilities at the site and limited parking.
Within short walking distance from Clava Cairns is the Nairn Viaduct. Also known as the Culloden or Clava Viaduct. Although it is not possible to get up close to it, good views of it are plentiful from the road. The Nairn (or Clava) viaduct spans the River Nairn.
It was opened in 1898 by The Highland Railway as part of the Inverness and Aviemore Direct Railway. It still carries the main railway line south from Inverness today. This double-track the viaduct is the longest masonry railway viaduct in Scotland. It was built between 1893 and 1898 by Sir John Fowler and Murdoch Paterson. And it curves across the valley for 549 metres. It’s the longest viaduct of its kind in Scotland, with 28 spans.
Return back on to the B9006 and head west for a mere 9 miles before you arrive at Cawdor Castle in the village of Cawdor. Still home to the Cawdor family, this castle has evolved over 600 years. Open April to October only, it’s one of Scotland’s finest. With beautiful gardens, including the Walled Garden, which dates from around 1600. Cawdor Castle is also forever associated with Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and every year in summer an outdoor performance of the play takes place in the grounds of the castle. And it’s your chance to visit the legendary Thorn Tree. There’s also a cafeteria and gift shop.
The fifth and final stop on this day trip from Inverness, is the spectacular Fort George and the Highlanders Museum, 8 miles from Cawdor. Fort George is a mile past the village of Ardersier. Built in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden, it
took 22 years to complete and at the time was the largest military garrison in Europe. Although it remains to this day a military barracks, it has never been used in battle. To appreciate the size and engineering of the site, make sure to take a walk around the ramparts.
You may also be lucky enough to see dolphins on the Moray Firth. As there are an estimated 200 resident dolphins, who regularly entertain visitors across the Firth at Chanonry Point.
Also within the grounds of Fort George is the Highlanders Museum. This Museum covers three floors of Fort George’s former Lieutenant Governors’ House. It has roughly 20,000 artefacts and an estimated 10,000 documents and photographs. And it’s the largest regimental museum in Scotland, outside of Edinburgh.
If you’re visiting in September, then don’t forget the Highland Military Tattoo is staged in the grounds of Fort George. This event showcases the best of Highland military and cultural traditions.
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