A week ago, I rented another car and headed to Dingwall once again to visit Pat & Ian. Pat had all kinds of ideas of things to do and places to visit!
The first place we visited was Culloden!
We toured the exhibition hall which told the whole story about the Jacobite Rising from both the Jacobite and the British Government’s viewpoints. No photographs were allowed. However, outside on the battlefield, I could take as many pictures as I liked.
Let’s go check out the battlefield on Culloden Moor.
It was a rather empty place at this point in time but on that fateful day, April 16, 1748, this was anything but an empty field.
Out in the field were red flags flying indicating where the British Soldiers had formed their lines and further out in the moor were blue flags indicating where the Jacobites had lined up in preparation for the battle that took less than an hour but changed Scottish history forever.
Near the exhibition hall and as you start out on the path to the battlefield, sits an old croft farmhouse which was used as a temporary hospital for the wounded British.
The rock fence above used to be a fence around a pasture land that the British had blown holes through to allow Calvary and cannons through.
After walking for a very long time through the heather moor I finally came upon where the Jacobites were lined up.
Then I started walking back again toward the Cairn Monument that was erected 135 years after the battle to commemorate this historical battle and to place Grave Markers on the mounds where the various Highland Clans men were heaped together and buried en masse by the local farmers.
Some of the Clans that had a lot of men in them were grouped together in graves; others were just “mixed.”
It was a sobering place to visit. Very quiet and rather sad.
Afterward, Pat and I quietly got back in the car and decided to go for a ride to see if we could find a nearby castle, Kilvarock – Castle of the Clan of Rose.
As we were driving, a train was crossing the viaduct. By the time I found a place to pull over, jump out of the car and get a picture, it was nearly all the way across, but at least I caught the back half of the train still crossing in the distance.
Not much further along, we did manage to find the castle. However, once we arrived we were quite dismayed to find it just about totally abandoned. Evidently on the 9th of December, 2012, Miss Elizabeth Rose of Kilravock – the last heir – passed away. She had created a Trust in 1971 in order that the castle and the grounds be managed as a Christian Retreat. There wasn’t much going on and from the amount of cobwebs around the front door and the overgrown pathways in the woodland arboretum, no one has been around for quite a few years!
I looked it up on the internet when we got back to Pat’s house and this is what I found:
“Kilravock Castle (pronounced ‘Kil-rawk’) dates from 1460. The castle is situated between Inverness and Nairn, close to the Moray Firth with its stunning white sandy beaches, seals and dolphins.
From here, the whole of the Highlands opens up for you, with historic sites such as the neolithic Clava Cairns; Cawdor, Brodie and Darnaway Castles; Culloden Moor and Loch Ness just a few miles away.
And then the following:
Pat told me that in years past, she was a ‘Scout Leader’ and she used to bring her troop out here in the late summer and early fall for a weekend camp. Even though we put a coin in the “Honesty Box” in order to tour the Arboretum, the coin fell straight through onto the ground. “Oh well, let’s go take a look just the same – the gate is open.”
At least someone is keeping some of the lawns mowed, but that’s about it. We wandered around on the pathways best we could while Pat told me stories about her scouting days and the activities they would plan in these gardens.
There are a lot of very old and huge tree specimens in this arboretum such as the biggest Monkey Puzzle tree I’ve ever seen! (below) It’s so old it even has sagging bark at its base!
The Rhododendrons were so large we were walking underneath them as if they were trees!
We came upon this very old enchanting little wooden ‘Summer House.’
The original hand-painted wallpaper on the door was beautiful. (By the way – the flowers in the vases were plastic!) Below are pictures from the back of the castle.
The steps going down to the pasture and the river below were almost completely consumed by nature!
The size of the trees and the vast varieties represented amazed me. Talk about old growth!
There was even a “Secret Garden” door as we headed down to where the greenhouses were.
After visiting so many gardens this year and the beautiful greenhouses filled to the brim with begonias, fuchsias and the like, seeing these in total disrepair was startling. Let this be a lesson; if you don’t tend to the plants, they’ll break through the glass and grow anyway! So sad to see what such a beautiful garden it used to be neglected and gone to the dogs without the loving hands of gardeners to tenderly care for it. It’s a crying shame that such an old garden has gone ‘wild’ and slowly choked by weeds.
There was one hope however; one single rose bud, giving it all it could, despite neglect.
Afterall, it is the Castle of the Roses, and this little bud stands in solitary attestment!