Inverness & Edinburgh

This post wraps up our time in Scotland before spending a few days in London where we caught our flight back to Vancouver.

Inverness

I don’t have too much to say about Inverness. We spent two nights there as a way to break up the road trip from the Isle of Skye to Edinburgh. I described it as a workaday city in my journal. Our highlight was browsing this charming used bookstore called Leakey’s that used to be a Gaelic church built in the 17th century.

Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness

We also enjoyed walking and crossing the picturesque River Ness on one of the many footbridges and counting all the cathedrals that line the river. The city’s biggest disappointment though is that the prettiest building (the castle at the top of the picture) is actually a courthouse and not worth a visit. But our main focus was driving to the outskirts of the city anyway to do a self-guided whiskey distillery tour (on my husband’s wish list) and to visit the famous Battle of Culloden. You already know what happened after the whiskey distillery tour from my previous post.

View of River Ness with Inverness Castle/courthouse in the distance

Culloden probably holds a lot more significance to Outlander fans as there was paraphernalia of all types in the museum’s gift shop. I’ve never read the books or watched the show, but I still valued learning about this Jacobite uprising in 1745 that resulted in the Highlanders losing a huge part of their population and culture under the English Government (Whigs).

Culloden Battlefield with museum on far right in the distance

The museum is very thorough, worthy of repeat visits. From a curatorial perspective, it was interesting how the layout of the space made you choose a side to follow from beginning to end—either the Jacobites or the Whigs. Naturally, most visitors chose the Jacobites. Is it because we were in Scotland? Or because it’s human nature to vote for the underdog and defy the Man? Who knows. You could easily go a second time and walk through the other person’s shoes, so to speak. It’s a lot to try and read both sides simultaneously. I credit the museum for including both perspectives and trying to be as unbiased as possible. They addressed the complicated nature of this battle and how, for whatever reasons, some Highlanders chose to fight on the Government side and some English fought with the Highlanders. It reminded me how each event in history is riddled with complications and untidy categories.

Jacobite memorial

The battlefield outside the museum, however, is a little less subtle. This big gravestone shown above commemorates the Jacobites who died. The Government men get no such large memorial, just small stones set in the grass.

Memorial for the McDonald clan

Edinburgh

I had the good fortune of visiting Edinburgh ten years ago, and in much better weather than my husband and I had this time around. Edinburgh was one of the only places on our 3-week trip where it rained. Luckily we didn’t have a huge list of sights to see as the purpose of going there was to visit my brother and his family who moved there last year.

The iconic Edinburgh Castle that sits on top of an old volcano
A misty Edinburgh from the top of the castle

After a quick visit to the castle, my husband and I explored the Scottish National Gallery housed in a beautiful neoclassical building. We were impressed with the number of works by Scottish painters, many of whom we had never heard of before.

We wandered the winding city streets. I gravitated to photographing those with colour to liven up the grey day.

Since I missed this spot last time, we made sure to grab a bite to eat at the elephant house, where J.K. Rowling wrote the early Harry Potter novels while staring out a corner window towards Edinburgh Castle (thus inspiring the idea for Hogwarts).

Harry Potter graffiti in the washrooms

The weather cleared up our final day there and so we took a moderately strenuous hike up Arthur’s Seat to enjoy the many views from this extinct volcano.

Trail up Arthur’s Seat
You might be able to make out Edinburgh Castle on a hill in the distance, slightly right of centre
The water in the distance is the Firth of Forth

I also stopped by The Writers’ Museum (a favourite place from 10 years ago) and snapped pics of the evocative quotes etched into the pavement.

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