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Attractions in Inverness

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      28.06.2004 04:15
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      Culloden has to be one of the most atmospheric historic sites that I have ever been to. It is one of those rare places where the events of the past seem to have been soaked up by the landscape and it is not hard at all to imagine what happened there; it has that intangible factor that heritage experts are fond of calling ?a sense of place?. So many historical attractions that I visit tend to be an assault on the senses, an overload of information or a route march through the site by bored guides. Culloden, by contrast, is a quiet and dignified site that is well worth a visit, despite the fact that its remote location makes it a long journey for many visitors. I?m sure the word ?Culloden? does sound somewhat familiar to many of you reading this, even if you are not quite sure of the significance of it. Culloden is actually a stretch of moor about 5 miles east of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, and the site of the last battle to be fought on British soil. The battle was fought between Charles Edward Stuart (?the young pretender? or Bonnie Prince Charlie) the leader of the Jacobite cause, and the government?s army, led by Charles? cousin the Duke of Cumberland. Charles was an exiled member of the Stuart line, formerly the Royal House of Scotland, who returned to the country from the continent in August 1745 with the aim of raising an army that would restore his father James Stuart to the throne (the word Jacobite actually coming from the Latin for James: Jacobus). Landing in the Hebrides, Charles moved through Scotland, gradually bringing together support and easily taking Edinburgh shortly afterwards, where he proclaimed his father King. However, knowing that the Hanoverian monarchy in London would never accept an independent Scottish king, the Jacobites took
      the decision to invade England, with the hope that English supporters would flock to their cause along the way, swelling their armies. In the end, the English support did not come in the numbers expected. Although the Jacobite army managed to get as far south as Derby, Charles decided to retreat back to Scotland to avoid being caught in a pincer movement between two branches of the government army as he attempted to take London. As it happened, London itself was so fearful of an invasion of Highlanders that many people ? including George II ? were on the verge of fleeing. On the march north, Charles? army met and defeated a government force at Falkirk, but continued to move north in search of a location where the decisive battle between government and the uprising would take place. In April 1746 they arrived in Inverness and Charles? generals chose Culloden moor as their battleground. On 16th April, the two armies finally met; Charles? force was made up of Highlanders fighting out of Clan loyalty to the cause, who were by this time exhausted and starving, while the government army of redcoats was well trained, disciplined and armed with guns. The battle was not so much English versus Scots as it is commonly understood, but rather government versus rebels. In fact, more Scots fought on the government side that for the romantic Stuart cause. The battle proved to be one sided and was over in about an hour with over 1000 Highlanders dead ? indeed, the word ?Culloden? has come to mean ?massacre? to some people. Following the battle, Charles fled back to his father, while the government took severe repressive measures against the Highlanders to prevent another upraising taking place. Cumberland killed almost the same number again after the battle was over, tartan and bagpipes were made illegal (a
      nd remained so for many years) and the Gaelic language was discouraged. The site today is owned and run by the National Trust for Scotland. Arriving at Culloden moor, you will find a large and modern visitor centre next to a car park of considerable size, as well as access to the battlefield site itself. Anyone can avail themselves of the restaurant, toilets and shop in the visitor centre, but you need to pay (or show your National Trust/National Trust for Scotland membership card) to actually get to the exhibits and historic sites themselves. My first port of call was the ?taste of Scotland? restaurant to get some lunch and a drink, and to be honest I found this to be the weak link of the whole experience. I arrived just after a coach party; such a site gets many coach parties, yet the facilities are just not adequate to deal with the huge influxes of people ? just two servers were trying to dish out the food and take payment, meaning it took 25 minutes just to buy my food. The food in itself wasn?t especially expensive given the captive audience the site had, although I have to confess that it wasn?t brilliant. I am still not entirely sure what I was eating, either, as a lot of the food on display were neither labelled nor priced, something else I didn?t like. My advice would be to take a packed lunch, or eat in nearby Inverness before or after your visit instead. Moving on though, I have nothing but praise for the rest of the visitor facilities. Toilets were clean; the shop was huge, well stocked and fairly priced; the staff were polite, and all internal signposting was clear. Provisions were also made for foreign tourists with guidebooks in French and German, and for blind visitors with Braille guides. The historic interpretation is what I had come here for, though. Having flashed my NT card
      , I went to have a look around the two exhibitions on show ? one was a simple affair of illustrations and text panels that aimed to give the visitor the historical background they needed to understand and appreciate the site, the other a collection of artefacts associated with the events of Culloden moor. The design of the exhibitions was simple; there was no ?bells and whistles?, no fancy computer interactives or anything like that, which no doubt made it less interesting to children. However, what the NTS did succeed in doing, though, was in producing exhibitions that conveyed clearly, effectively and without obvious bias what happened there in 1746. The displays were also backed up by a short film (lasting about 20 minutes). I liked this approach. Although the film essentially said nothing different to the exhibitions, it made the information more accessible: if you didn?t enjoy reading huge reams of information, well, you could watch it on a film instead. This also works for anyone who doesn?t read English well, as the film offered a commentary via headphones in French, German, Italian and Japanese. Having this information is the key to understanding the battlefield, so it was good to see it made available in a variety of ways to help the visitor get the most from their visit. The battlefield itself, as I have said, is a very evocative place. The interpretation is quietly understated, consisting of a series of flags marking the location of government and Jacobite lines at the start of the battle, and several small panels that put your location into the context of the battlefield. The NTS are currently in the middle of a long-term plan to return the site to as it was in 1746, so you see the knee high gorse and thistles, the thick heather and the flock of Hebridean sheep grazing. Seeing the field like this helps you to understand why the Jacobi
      te cause died here ? how could the famous Highland charge work on a moor where vegetation makes it barely possible to walk, let alone run? The Clan grave markers, the Well of the Dead and the huge memorial cairn add to the sense of poignancy of the site, but what brought the significance of it home to me most of all were the fresh bunches of flowers that are still left by some of the grave markers. NTS do promise living history presentations throughout the summer, and as much as I enjoy them normally, I can?t help but feel glad that I was left in peace to fully contemplate the site on the day I visited. Overall, Culloden moor is well worth a visit. The restaurant aside, I think the site was good value for money, tastefully presented and well explained, and I easily spent a full afternoon there. It comes well recommended from me; I reckon it is a ?must see? for anyone visiting the eastern Highlands. *Culloden is?* - Poignant but not depressing - Well interpreted - A long journey but worth it - Somewhere that will help you get a full appreciation of Highland life *Culloden is not?* - Good for kids (I didn?t really like it when I was there as a 12 year old) - The best place to get lunch - A good choice to visit in bad weather - For anyone who wants to say ?Bonnie Prince Charlie was not a hero? in a loud voice ● Details Location ? 5 miles east of Inverness on the B9006, signposted from the A9. Open ? Daily, all year round. November to March 11-4; April to June and September to October 9-6; July and August 9-7. Price ? Free to NT and NTS cardholders. Otherwise £5 for adults, £3.75 for concessions (child, student, &#
      79;AP). Contact ? Web: www.nts.org.uk Email: Culloden@nts.org.uk Phone: (01463) 790607

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        27.07.2003 23:02
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        Bus tours in Inverness, by City tours These are absolutely fantastic, you pay once, around £7 (concessions available!) and the ticket is valid for 24 hours. The ticket then covers you to hop on and hop off during this time, so if your tired of walking around trying to find somewhere, or just need a nice long sit down, this is the thing for you. In Inverness there are two different hop on hop off tours one around invernesses itself, and one around the highlands. Both with city tours, and you can get a discount on other city tours, if you show your ticket (there are loads of them all round the UK and some in Europe) . Both of the bus tours begin outside the tourist information office (above bella pasta) on the high street. Tickets are avalible from the bus driver or from the tourist information centre! The tour that I went on was the highlands tour, this cost £7.50, (I had already been on the Edinburgh tour, which is very good, with my ticket i paied £6). Don't sit at the back of the top deck of the bus, it goes quite fast and on duel carriage way, it takes your breath away, literally!! This tour takes you around the Inverness area, stopping at the dolphin tours (catch the boat, & see a dolphin) Culloden field, where the last battle was fort on British soil, and many other highlights from castles to garrisons, the best place to stop in my opinion is Cawdor castle (my friend thought Culloden field was the best, but to each their own) The castle is only open during the tourist season, it’s actually inhabited the rest of the year by the lady of the house, it costs £6.50 to get in (cheaper for concessions) but if you show your bus ticket you get in for £5.50. As it’s inhabited during the year you really get the feel of the place, (not like some places where you know it’s just a tourist attraction). There is a lot of reading, so remember your glasses if you need them!, it gives you the history
        of each tapestry, painting and room. The gardens are really well kept and there’s also a maze, (you must call ahead and book to be able to go through it) the shop in the entrance also sells duck food for 50p, so if you want to feed the most well fed ducks in Scotland, here’s the place for you! (There’s also a café and a bookshop, (the jacket potatoes are really lovely!)) It takes about 1hour and 30 minutes for the whole tour, but remember you can hop off and hop back on!) this is the best way to see the highlands!

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          06.07.2001 03:41
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          Culloden, near Inverness, is the site of the last major battle on mainland Britain, which took place in 1746. It was between the Jacobite army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), and the government forces, led by the Duke of Cumberland, also known as the Bloody Butcher. To be honest, this is not ‘my’ period of history, however, last summer, after reading the Cross Stitch series of books by Diana Gabaldon, I became quite interested in the Jacobite period, and persuaded my long suffering father to drive me to Culloden! Now for a bit of historical background... The Duke of Cumberland leading the Hanoverian army had followed Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites out of England to Culloden Moor. In an attempt to place his father, King James VIII, the Stuart king of Scotland on the English throne, Prince Charles had reached Derby with an army, but was forced to retreat to Scotland and consolidate his position. The Duke of Cumberland's army included some Scots who opposed the Stuarts – this battle wasn’t simply a case of Scots vs English as is sometimes mistakenly thought. Indeed, some families were split by their divided loyalties. Many of the clans which fought there did so under the leadership of the clan chief, but this wasn’t always the case since some clansmen went even when their clan chief was not a Jacobite supporter. By the time the battle started, both armies were reduced in number - only about a third of the Jacobites reached the moor. The weather turned cold and wet, and the conditions were not favourable to the Jacobites. Cumberland's army was also better equipped with much more advanced weapons. The battle resulted in a crushing defeat for the Jacobites, despite lasting less than an hour. Over 1,200 Jacobites were killed, whereas Cumberland lost only 50 men. So what is there at Culloden to see then? Well, in the words of my little sister, it’s just a bi
          g field! There is certainly not the sort of atmosphere here that you might expect – when driving through Glencoe for example, it always feels a bit eerie, particularly if you think about the massacre of Glencoe, but when I went to Culloden, it was difficult to imagine a battle ever taking place. It was a sunny day, quite warm, so maybe that accounted for some of it. The positions of both sides are marked out by coloured flags, and turf and stone dykes which played a crucial part in the battle have been reconstructed on their original site. You can walk round, but be warned, it is a longer walk than you might initially think – so not really suitable for small children, or those who have difficulty walking, or for stupid people who wear unsuitable shoes (me). There are some guided tours round, but we chose to go on our own, I prefer to see things at my own pace. We bought a guidebook too so we were able to learn about the history ourselves. Things of interest here are the Graves of the Clans (marking each particular clan which fought here e.g. Fraser), the Well of the Dead, the Memorial Cairn, the Cumberland Stone and the Field of the English. The original Leanach Cottage, which survived the battle being fought around it, has been restored several times and is now open to the public, with Living History presentations during the summer months. We went to one of these displays – the cottage was used to provide medical treatment, and the presentation was not for the squeamish – Lizzie (my sister) and I felt very sick, Liz had actually gone green! However, the presentation was very well done, with the presenters in costume, and it was a nice addition to the site. After it, we went to have a quick look in the cottage (we regretted this, since there was a reconstruction of an operation taking place in there – far too much blood for us!) There is also a visitor centre with a permanent Jacobite exhibition. This is on
          ly a small centre, but there is an audiovisual presentation there, which explains the events leading up to the battle and the battle itself – it is very well done, just about the right level of detail there. It’s also available in foreign languages – you get given a headset. I know this because I was sitting near a Japanese guy, and I could hear the presentation in Japanese coming from his headset! There is also a small exhibition to walk round, with well displayed maps and charts, information, and also weapons used in the battle. Everything you could ever want to know about it is explained here – you really learn a lot! For small children it could however get a bit boring – my sister wasn’t overly impressed (though she was 15 – not exactly small!) There is also a book shop, so if you get really interested, then you can find out some further information. I was pleased to find a much greater selection of Scottish history books than there were in even my local scottish Waterstones. Overall then, this is an interesting day out, though try not to go when it’s raining (hard in Scotland, I know). You will learn a lot, even if the atmosphere here might not be quite what you were hoping for. I personally found the audiovisual presentation gave me more of a sense of what the battle was like, rather than wandering round the battle field itself. To get here, take the B9006, and travel 5 miles east of Inverness. Prices are cheap - £4 for an adult and £3 for a concession, or £11 for a family ticket. However, if you’re a member of the national trust, you’ll get in for free. For further information contact: Culloden Moor Inverness IV2 5EU. Tel. Inverness (01463) 790607 Fax (01463) 794294.

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