the Highlands

I travelled through the Highlands last week.

On Tuesday, I woke up at 6 and went up to Thurso, which is the most Northern place in Britain where you can get with railways. The journey was wonderful withvery beautiful Scottish scenery, except that Thurso is 7 and a half hours away from Edinburgh. Thurso itself is a small town that has nothing special except the Northern end of the British Railways. I went for a walk and saw James’ friend at his brother’s Internet Café. I left there at 7 next morning.

A half way from Edinburgh to Thurso is the city Inverness. “Inver-” means mouth of river, and Ness is the name of river which flows out of the famous lake, or loch, with the same name. Loch Ness is the biggest lake in Britain, which is rumoured to be the home of a large unknown creature for centuries.

The tour bus from Inverness took me to a thirty minute cruise to the ruin of a castle and the exhibition centre. The weather was perfect in a sense; typical Scottish rain-spattering cloudiness certainly was making the atmosphere which tourists would be expecting from the Loch. Cruising the surface of the loch with boat reminded me of the evolution of science in a last couple of centuries; without science taught in the schools, I would have easily believed the existence of scary green monster living under the black water of Ness, which has nowadays ended up with friendly smiling in every souvenir shop in Scotland.

The boat took us to the ruin of the unpronounceable castle of Urquhart. The castle that once had been one of the most important castles in Scotland seemed to have gone through the most tragic part of the history of Highlands. The castle that had been experienced number of battles was destroyed in 17th century by the Government force who did not want the Jacobites take over the castle.

Jacobites are the “rebellions” from the Highlands who fought against the government. After centuries of wars against each other, England finally became a “friend” of Scotland when the King of Scotland succeeded that of England as well in early 1600s. However, a century later, the Glorious Revolution in England lead the Highlanders who did not agree with this decision of English Parliament to the war against England and the Southern part of Scotland. This “Jacobites’” war ended with the battle of Culloden near Inverness.

Since I had a time on Wednesday in Inverness, I visited the Culloden Battlefield. The exhibition that explains the incident was very interesting, but the battlefield was, as usual for old battlefields to be, nothing but just a field with some flags and tombs.

After getting back to the Inverness station, I went to see Caledonian Canal using the time till the next train. Caledonian Canal connects North Sea and Atlantic Ocean using several lakes including Loch Ness. It wasn’t as big as I thought, but still this is one of the finest old Scottish engineering projects like Forth Rail Bridge.

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