My intention was to walk all the way up to Culloden Battlefield, but I left too late in the day, and it was getting dark by the time I was up near the Battlefield, and I wanted to get back to the city before dark (especially as I didn't want to wait around in the Battlefield carpark for a bus, as it is windy and exposed up there, so quite chilly). Culloden Woods is easily accessible from Inverness City Centre by bus. There is also a bus up to Culloden Battlefield directly, as implied earlier. The weather was wet - drizzle and sleet down in the city, but snow up on the hill with the moor. The precipitation came in patches and flurries, with still moments in between. The skies were low and grey, and the sun seemed dim and always closer to the horizon than I wanted it to be.
|The Bridge with the oak tree growing on it.|
Culloden Woods is forestry pines - cultivated for timber, but it seems to be transitioning to more natural woodland, with areas of birch and more native pines, as well as the new 'Douglas Wood' section that is intended for children and is dog-less (hence the name; naming things with puns is pretty common up here!). There's a railway line cutting the woodland in half, and over that railway is a handsome Victorian railway bridge... with an oak tree growing on it!
|St. Mary's Well in the rain.|
|Clootie well. Click to enlarge.|
|Blurry photo of a burn (stream)|
I headed back down from the clootie well to the path along the forestry track, which leads out into cleared land that has reverted to a sort of moorland. It's windy and open, but quite beautiful. It had snowed a few days before, and the drainage channels redirecting burns through the land had frozen, and then started thawing, so there was fractured ice floating. It snowed again properly a few days later. There were a few patches of snow on the cleared land, but I didn't get any pictures. The low shrubbery and wild plants seem to close in around you, despite the wind blowing across and the distinct lack of trees other than a few lonely deciduous trees, birches mostly, stand scraggly and stranded out in the open.
|View out of Culloden Woods into the cleared land.|
One thing out on the open land that I don't want to either romanticise or sensationalise, but I feel should be mentioned because it is a part of the history of that land is the Prisoner's Stone. This isn't something I want to promote as something to visit because it's 'cool and spooky' or something, it's a place to pause and reflect on an atrocity that may have happened over 200 years ago, but which a lot of local people still feel strongly about today. It's a site where something really horrible happened in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden - 17 Jacobite prisoners were executed there, for being on the wrong side an 18th man was spared to spread word of what had happened. There's a bench, inscribed in both Gaelic and English; 'Murder of frozen souls here - marvel that I remained alive, to tell' is the English translation. I don't know if being killed on the moor was better or worse than the fate of those taken prisoner and forcibly marched to be 'tried' and executed in London, many of whom died on the journey. All of it is awful.
|The Prisoner's Stone|
|The Gaelic inscription on the simple bench.|
Beyond the Prisoner's stone is plenty of cleared forestry land, leading up to the road. The path I took wasn't that one, however, as I went between some leafless fruit-trees along a more sheltered footpath that runs alongside a farm track to the main road, and is part of the official Culloden hiking/walking trail.
|The sun begins to set over the dregs of snow.|
I have several more posts in the 'Gothic Tourism' category to go up - Clava Cairns, Brodie Castle, and several graveyards, ruins, etc. that I visited last year but never had the time to process the images from.