Roused by something on the roof of the Hymer around 5am, bloody seagulls again. This goes on for some time, so I get up and venture out to tell them to piss off. I find a one-footed gull staring at me from the roof. Obviously if i could have caught it it would have been a dead seagull. Anyway the gull flies to a nearby lamp post seemingly happy to have me up.
Back to bed for a while. Around 7am we start the usual things to get the day started. I step out of the Hymer to take some rubbish to the bin. My one legged mate is stairing down at me from the same lamp post, standing on it’s one remaining webbed foot, but appearing to wave his stump at me.
Its only a short drive back along the A9 to Dunrobin Castle.
Dunrobin Castle is claimed to be Scotland largest home. Whilst it dates from 1275 as a tower fortress, most of what we see today was completed in 1850.
Dunrobin is not on our free list, so coughing up £19 was hard, however it is a magnificent example of what can be achieved if you have more money than God.
We chat with one of the attendants for a long time. Such an interesting person, having gone to school with the current Laird. He has worked here as a young man and now part time in his retirement. He obviously loves the estate and this part of Scotland.
Unlike many of the other great homes and castles we have visited in Scotland, the gardens of Dunrobin maintain there formal elegance and design.
The 5th Duke of Sutherland died in 1963 with no heir. As such the furniture, momentous and feel of Dunrobin remains captured as it was, at his passing. The estate passed to his cousin, whose twin sons manage it on her behalf.
We both found Dunrobin a memorable visit, but time moves along and so must we. Continuing south we stop at Dornoch just north of the Firth of Dornoch for a coffee and more exploring. Dornoch is most famous for it’s golf course, Royal Dornoch also as a market town blessed with many fine stone homes. It was also the place the last witch was executed in 1722.
We found this wrought iron piece in the small park outside the Cathedral.
So we wander into the cathedral, as you do. More like the size of a large church it must be the seat of the local bishop.
The Cathedral is light and airy with a friendly somewhat modern feel. We chat with one of the volunteers for a while, telling us she has just returned from NZ and Australia is next on her list.
Back in the Hymer we move on again down they final leg of the NC500. Mind you with the traffic, it’s a slow drive for the last 50 miles to Inverness taking almost 90 minutes. Our week or so driving the North Coast 500 Tourist Route has been magic and we would recommend it without hesitation.
We stop for lunch on the Caledonion Canal in Inverness for an hour, fuel up, then visit the Tesco for a quick shop before heading east to Culloden. We pass the Culloden Railway Viaduct, an amazing 29 span masonry bridge over the River Nairn on our way. But with no viewing point to safely stop we cannot show you a picture. We arrive at the Culloden Battle Fields some 15 minutes later.
On arrival at Culloden I am less than impressed to find I must pay £2 the park. Then walk 20 metres and pay another £9.50pp for entry. I try to maintain a positive outlook as our friends Ian and Jo recommended visiting here.
We know very little of Scottish history other than Errol Flynn helping Bonny Prince Charles to escape and Mel Gibson’s Bravehart. But Culloden was Scotland’s last stand and the massacre that followed resulted in the collapse of the Jakobites cause and the dream of Scottish rule.
The interactive displays and information panels provided an insight into the days leading up to the battle and the subsequent crushing of the rebellion. We found it a very interesting couple of hours. However our later walk of the battlefield was cold and miserable. So we took the abridged version after 15 minutes and headed back to the warmth of the Hymer.
We plan to visit Fort George tomorrow but there is no overnight parking nearby, so we drive another 5 miles on to Nairn and find company on the marina after another long day. So we go to sleep with the sounds of waves rolling up the beach.