Tag Archives: Scotland

Fun Photo Friday — Invergorden & Inverness Favorites (and a Monster?)

Green Bench at Beauly Priory

Okay, you’ve been waiting for this all week, I’m sure. First, some background. I was standing at about this spot at the northeast end of Loch Ness:

Loch Ness

I had my camera set to  manually focus for some closeup images when out of the corner of my eye I spied something swimming in the loch. Now, having read many of the stories of trying to capture this elusive creature, I suspected I only had perhaps seconds to react before Nessie, or whatever, would dive beneath the surface into the dark depths of Loch Ness below. Without hesitation, I swung the camera up to my eye, and here is the dramatic result of this seldom seen phenomena of cryptozoology:

The Loch Ness . . . Creature?

Hey, what did you expect? Something clearer than most other Nessie photos? Alas, my instincts, that I would have limited time to avail myself of a photo before the opportunity elapsed, were proven correct. Before I could manually focus or switch the camera to automatically do so for me, the creature disappeared with an odd, “Quack,” and skittered across the loch with a strange flapping motion before disappearing into the distance.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Perhaps I should have saved that one for next year, say, around April 1. Anyway, I’ll leave you with one last image for today before you start throwing rotten tomatoes at your computer screen:

A Mini Pair

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Transatlantic — Clava Cairn; Battle of Culloden; Loch Ness

Balnuaran of Clava

On our bus tour out of Invergordon we made three more stops beyond Beauly Priory. The first was a site containing Bronze Age burial mounds known as Clava cairn. This particular Clava cairn is Balnuaran of Clava. And here is the largest of the cairns:

Balnauran of Clava

After that we moved on to the site of the famous Battle of Culloden, April 16, 1746.

Battle of Culloden

Culloden is a small town located about 3 miles/4.8 kilometers east of Inverness. The name derives from the Gaelic Cùl Lodain, which roughly translates to back of the small pond, or, in modern Gaelic, Cùil Lodair, which means marshy nook, and the area of the battlefield was at the time a boggy moor. As you can, there are hints of that type terrain today:

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

But for the most part the boggy features of this area is all but gone, although there are efforts to restore the terrain to its state during the battle:

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

Next up was Loch Ness of Loch Ness Monster fame.

South Loch Ness

And while our first look at this area way back in around 2001 would result in no monster photos, I did manage on this tour to snap a quick, albeit slightly blurry, photo of something strange out there. You’ll see that photo on this week’s Fun Photo Friday. The photo of Loch Ness presented below were taken near the northeast end of the loch, about 5 miles/8 kilometers southwest of Inverness.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness is extremely narrow yet very deep. It is 23 miles/37 kilometers long, but only 1.7 miles/2.7 kilometers at its widest point. The depths plummet to 745 feet/227 meters, and just the average depth is an impressive 433 feet/132 meters!

Loch Ness

If you look at a map of Scotland, you’ll see that the country is split in two by a series of lochs and rivers, with Loch Ness cutting diagonally across starting from near Inverness at Loch Dochfour, and continuing in a nearly straight-line slash across Scotland with Lochs Oich, Lochy, Eil, and Linnhe. If you think this sounds like a fault line, it is. And built between many of these lochs are 60 miles/97 kilometers of canal made up of 29 locks, or as I call them, loch locks. This is the Caledonan Canal, and it allows boat travel from Inverness on the east coast all the way to the Isle of Mull west of mainland Scotland.

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Transatlantic — Invergordon and Beauly Priory

Beauly, Scotland

When we first signed up for this transatlantic voyage, Vision of the Seas was slated to make a rather exciting (to us, anyway) call into Lerwick, Scotland, located in the Shetlands. Ursula and I were really up for this one, as we’d already done a self-driving tour of Scotland many years before. We even primed ourselves by binge watching the British television series Shetland, starring Douglas Henshaw. Alas, Royal Caribbean cancelled that destination on the pretext that the port was unable to handle the ship, even though the new docking facilities were completed quite some time beforehand. Instead, we found ourselves steaming toward Invergordon, and Ursula had us lined up for a bus tour inland toward Inverness and Loch Ness (yep . . . I got a picture of a strange creature which you’ll see on this week’s Fun Photo Friday). Anyway, our bus headed inland, and our first stop was to the ruins of Beauly Priory near the town of Beauly.

Welcome to Beauly Priory

Beauly Priory was founded in about 1230 as a monastery of the Valliscaulian Order.

Beauly Priory

But on April 16, 1510, the Valliscaulian Order was suppressed by Pope Julius II, and the order was gradually absorbed into the Cistercian Order.

Thus, Beauly Priory spent the last 124 years of its monasterial existence in the Cistercian Order, until October 20, 1634, when it was disestablished and its lands turned over to John Maxwell, the Bishop of Ross (1633-1638). So much for the history lesson. Here are more images of this historic ruin and its grounds (click on any image to enlarge and bring up today’s slide show):


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