Loch Ness & Cawdor Castle Tour

Visit Loch Ness & Cawdor Castle

As well as visiting Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle we also visit Inverness, Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns and Cawdor Castle.

Firstly, we proceed along the shore of the Cromarty Firth and make our way to Beauly where we visit Beauly Priory.

Beauly Priory was built in the 13th century for an order of Valliscaulian Monks from Dijon in France.

Most of the Priory was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in the 16th century and he removed a lot of the stone to build a citadel. In Inverness when the citadel was destroyed after Cromwell’s death the same stone was then used to build the Dunbar hospital in Inverness – you will see this building later in the day.

The Priory was an ancient burial ground for the chiefs of clans Fraser and Mackenzie.

Outside the Priory grounds you will see the Mercat Cross, this is where punishments were administered and most towns in Scotland had one.

Leaving Beauly behind us we make our way over Culnakirk Hill to Drumnadrochit.

After passing through Drumnadrochit and at the top of the hill we stop at Urquhart Castle which sits on a promontory overlooking the loch.

Urquhart Castle was once one of Scotland’s largest castles and has been fought over many times with control of the castle passing back and forth between the Scots and the English during the wars of independence.

It is near here that St Columba is purported to have seen the loch ness monster in 580 AD, the monster came out of the water to attack one of his disciples and St Columba banished it back to the water.

The castle gatehouse was deliberately destroyed in 1692 so it could never be used again as a military stronghold.

Following our visit to Urquhart Castle we start to make our way back to Inverness along the loch side and a few miles along we stop at the Wellington layby. This layby takes its name from the wellington bomber “R for Robert” which ditched opposite the layby on the 31st December 1940. The bomber had developed engine trouble shortly after taking off from RAF Lossiemouth and was forced to ditch in the loch.

7 of the 8 crew on board survived but unfortunately the rear gunner was killed. The bomber lay in the loch until 1985 when it was recovered. It is now in an aircraft museum in Surrey where volunteers spent 600,000 hours restoring it.

Continuing back to Inverness we stop at Inverness Cathedral, this is the most northerly Anglican cathedral in the UK and was completed in 1866.

Driving through Inverness we pass the Old High Church where the Jacobite prisoners were held after Culloden before they were executed in the graveyard, you can still see musket ball marks on the church wall where the executions happened. Opposite the Old High Church you will see the Dunbar Hospital, built with stones from Cromwell’s citadel, the stones originally from Beauly Priory. Further along this street we pass Abertarff House, the oldest house in Inverness dating from 1593 and once the townhouse for the chiefs of Clan Fraser.

Continuing through Inverness we pass Inverness Castle and you will see the statue of Flora Macdonald, famous for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to Skye after Culloden.

Heading out of Inverness we come to Clava Cairns, this ancient burial ground is more than 4000 years old. Diana Gabaldon is believed to have taken inspiration for her outlander series. The winter solstice was a very important time for these people and the cairns are aligned in a south westerly direction to face the midwinter sun.

Less than a mile from Clava Cairns we come to Culloden Battlefield where on the 16th April 1746 the last battle on British soil took place.

The battle was fought between the Jacobites who wanted to restore the Stuarts to the throne and the Hanoverians who were the government.

In less than one hour more than 1600 men were killed, 1500 of them Jacobites. The battle lasted just over one hour.

The result of this battle was to change the way of life in the highlands forever.

After Culloden we head to Cawdor Castle. Cawdor Castle has been home to the Thanes of Cawdor for centuries and is one of the few castles in the Highlands to be left unscathed after the Jacobite uprisings, this is very surprising considering it lies between Auldearn and Culloden where two battles took place. The castle is still lived in today by the Dowager Countess of Cawdor.

  1 – 3 people: £400

 4 – 8 people: £500

Duration: 7 – 8 Hours

Included:

  • Local guide
  • Private tour
  • Comfortable vehicle
  • Bottled water and snacks for the journey

Not included:

  • Entry admission fees to any attractions
  • Meals

A £50 deposit is required to secure your booking. Deposit payment details sent after tour availability confirmed.