My Thoughts · Scotland

Culloden Battlefield & Scottish Islands

John Groat's + Lin - Culloden

As our tour of Scotland continues, we head north to Culloden, the Orkney Islands, and the Isle of Skye. I loved the variety of these three days.

May 16—Loch Ness, Culloden, Dornoch, Wick & Thurso

Lin on Loch Ness - Culloden

We stayed in Inverness, the capitol of the Scottish Highlands, then went on a trip to Loch Ness, looking for Nessie, but had no luck.. We photographed the beautiful loch from a different spot than Lin and I saw on our British Isles cruise in 2019.

From there we drove to the Culloden visitor’s center, a unique display that shows artifacts and information from both sides: the Scots and the English. The vast scope of this battle needs explained:

“On 16 April 1746, the final Jacobite Rising came to a brutal head. Jacobite supporters, seeking to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British thrones, gathered to fight the Duke of Cumberland’s government troops. It was the last pitched battle on British soil and, in less than an hour, around 1,500 men were slain – more than 1,000 of them Jacobites.”

As we wound our way through the center, the tension mounted, and knowing the end result still didn’t make it easier. As the trip unfolded, I embraced my Scottish heritage. Here I bought the family crest and information sheet for my two Scottish kin: the MacDonalds and the McCoys. I felt so connected to consequences of this battle.

From this point forward, the British forbade the speaking of Gaelic Scottish language, the wearing of tartans and kilts. They tried to crush the culture, but they didn’t, as clear today.

I found out that Flora MacDonald helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Culloden over the seas to the Isle of Skye. Were we related? I became obsessed with that possibility.

From here we stopped in Dornoch for lunch and some sightseeing. Before arriving here, our tour guide, John, told us the last witch burning happened here.

“Janet Horne was the last person in Britain to be tried and executed for witchcraft. In 1727 she and her daughter were arrested and jailed in Dornoch.” Janet’s daughter suffered from a deformity in her hands and feet.,in%20her%20hands%20and%20feet.

The Witch's Stone - Durnoch - Culloden

I had fun trying to find the witch’s stone. After ordering a chicken salad sandwich on a bagel, I asked the server. She pointed in a vague direction and said, “It’s over there.” After wolfing down half of the sandwich, I stopped at the Jail and asked for further instruction. The clerk again in vague terms said, “Follow this street, turn at the bridge, go down and it’s there.” So, I followed the street and found my wandering picture-taking husband, Lin, and he helped in the search. Another two men got us closer, then a delightful woman named Charlotte, directed us there, but she said the date was wrong and it was!

From there it was on to Wick and two choices for optional excursions: a museum of Wick or Whisky Tasting. Neither Lin nor I drink, so we opted for the museum and what a delight. It was here we found out Robert Louis Stevenson’s father built lighthouses around Scotland.

On the drive, we continued to see the yellow flowering plants everywhere, gorse! So beautiful! Then it was on Thurso, the northern tip of Scotland, for two nights—whew! We didn’t have to get up early to get our bags out.

May 17 – Day in the Orkney Islands — Day 5 – our really only rainy day

John Groat's & Lin - Culloden

The next day we drove to John O’Groats, the most northerly inhabited village in mainland Britain, to catch the ferry to the Orkney Islands, which was a forty to fifty-minute ride. We rode outside on the top for the view, and it wasn’t too cold.

Italian Chapel on Orkney Islands - Culloden

We transferred to our bus, and our first stop on Orkney Island was the Italian chapel, built by Italian prisoners during World War II. They built this gorgeous chapel out of two Quonset huts.

Norway's Constitution Day celebration in Kirkwall - Culloden

On to Kirkwall and being May 17, we had a serendipitous delight: the celebration of Norway’s Constitution Day. Bagpipers piped in the group! This one thing showed how far north we were! Norway and the Orkney Islands have a strong link historically and until today! No rain yet!

Ring of Brodgar - Culloden

From there, it was on to the mysterious Ring of Brodgar, which looked like Stonehenge. But again, it was in the rain.

Clouds hovered all day, threatening to rain, and finally it came at the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae. We walked in the rain to see the ruins near to the beach, but it hampered our enjoyment because we rushed through it. I took a limited amount of pictures there, too!

Lin touching one of the Stones of Stenness - Culloden

From there it was on to the Standing Stones of Stenness. Many people on the tour anticipated this stop because of the TV show, “The Outlander.” Some took the chance and touched the stone. Others feared being transported back in time. Lin and I touched it—and we’re still here!

“The Stones of Stenness today consist of four upright stones up to 6m in height in a circle that originally held 12 stones. The focus of the interior was a large hearth. The stones were encircled by a large ditch and bank, the form of which has been lost over time by ploughing.

The Stones of Stenness are part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, a series of important domestic and ritual monuments built 5000 years ago in the Orkney Islands.”

May 18 – over the sea to the Isle of Skye, one of the lower Hebrides islands

This was a travel day heading south. We passed by the last wilderness in Scotland, blanket bog—1500 square miles of it. Here the roads were bouncier because of no foundation underneath because of the peat.

At our first stop at Lairg, we had scones and jam. I wandered next door to a store and met a fellow-author, Iain Offor. So, we talked about writing and publishing, and I helped him make a few book sales that day. Hey, we have to help our writers, right?

For lunch, we ended up at Ullapool, where I had delicious Cullen Skink, haddock and leek soup. I bought a splendid book about nature-writing in Scotland, Writing Landscape, by Linda Cracknell, a freelance journalist.

As we passed more mountains, John, our tour guide, told us about Munros in Scotland, which are any mountains over 3,000 feet. There are 282 Munros in Scotland and there’s a fun hiking activity, bag a Munro. What do you do? Climb a Munro is to bag a Munro.

We ended this day on the Isle of Skye for the night, ready to explore the island the next day.

Have you ever been to Culloden, the Orkney Islands, or the Isle of Skye?

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My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Scotland! I Want to Return!

Home from Scotland, yet my heart lingers there! Lin and I just returned from about a two-week adventure in Scotland and what an experience it was!

We saw kilts, colorful tartans, and firths! People sampled whiskey and Guinness! Lush, green hills surrounded us with many luscious lochs, too! And the brutal Scottish history shocked me! After several days, I heard the name “MacDonald” repeated in the history retelling, and I woke up! I have MacDonalds in my family tree, so I made the connection! Also, I have done my DNA testing and I am 28% Scot, so there you have it!

Our Itinerary in Scotland

We left Albuquerque on May 9, 2023 with our good friends, Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath, and flew to Edinburgh. We spent three days there touring and enjoying the sights. On May 12, another couple joined us who used to live in Albuquerque. We all are square dancers!

The Insight Vacations’ coach tour, The Country Roads of Scotland, began on May 13 and we toured Edinburgh for our first two days. Next from there, we went north to St. Andrews and the Highland Capital of Inverness for our third day. Next, we continued north to Culloden, Loch Ness and onto Thurso, the northern tip of Scotland, for the fourth day.

From Thurso, we went out for a Day in the Orkney Islands for our fifth day—our really only rainy day. For our sixth day, it was on over the sea to the Isle of Skye, one of the lower Hebrides islands, with a clear blue sky—quite unusual we’ve been told! There, we saw up close and personal “hairy coos,” the reddish long-haired cattle of Scotland. Afterwards, on our seventh day, we headed south through the Scottish Highlands to Glencoe. On day eight, we headed along the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond and had a relaxing boat ride around the lake, then we moved on to Glasgow.

In Glasgow, we had an amazing treat! Last year, I met a woman from Glasgow in an international meditation group I joined. She and her husband invited us for dinner on Monday, May 22, and we rode the train out to their house. What a delightful evening we had with delicious food, fun filled conversation and music! Their hospitality abounded! Then on Tuesday, they toured us around Glasgow—the best way to see any city! Sadly to say, then we headed back to the USA and Albuquerque!

Often during the tour, our traveling companions referenced “The Outlander,” but Lin and I weren’t familiar with this TV series. WE ARE NOW! And we are watching it!

Lin Touching One of the Stones of Stenness
Lin Touching One of the Stones of Stenness–A Trip Back??

The Scots are very proud of their famous poets and authors: Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns. I found this poem on the trip and shared it with the group.

Sing me a Song of a Lad that is Gone


Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Mull was astern, Rum on the port,
Eigg on the starboard bow;
Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
Where is that glory now?

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone!
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that's gone!

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.

For “The Outlander” fans, you hear these words every episode in the introduction! Interesting! At that time, I did not know when I shared the poem!


I have stories to tell of our wonderful trip and my newfound homeland. So, as you know, traveling with me can be an adventure, so be prepared for some fun-filled tales coming up in my next posts.

Have you ever been to Scotland? Any of the places identified above? Did you love it? Are you an “Outlander” fan?

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Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo - Scotland
Grab your iPhone and lounge on the beach with Flippo!

~Get your FREE Fifty minute audio recording of “Highlights of My Conversations with Flippo.” Learn how he started calling, how he recorded “The Auctioneer,” and a bonus: which caller did he sleep with? Click here for easy access!