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This morning we left our Clan Sinclair base at Wick in the Highlands and drove south, initially through dense fog. First leg of  journey lasted just over about 90  minutes to our first destination of Clynelish Distillery at  Brora. Here the weather was cold and wet and we had to wait 30 mins until commencement of our Distillery Tour which lasted about 45 mins.

Clynelish Distillery

Distilling on the Clynelish site dates back to the early 19th century. The present distillery dates from the 1960s but we were showed the mothballed Brora stills. Brora whisky is no longer produced although it is still possible to buy bottles of the single malt at a premium price.

At Clynelish we were taken through the malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation process, which was quite interesting. Interestingly, the distillery had just re-commenced activity again after a short break due to shortage of water in turn due to the recent dry spell.

Clynelish form part of the Diageo international drinks group.

After our distillery tour we drove just a few miles, past an ancient broch to Dunrobin Castle, ancient seat of the Dukes of Sutherland.This 189 room mansion mainly dates from the 19th century and evolved from a more conventional castle structure of a few hundred years previous parts of which can still be seen.

Dunrobin Castle

Inside the castle can be found tapestries, furniture, paintings, portraits and objets d’art . Outside can be viewed beautiful gardens, trees and fountains with the beach beyond.

In the small museum can be found a good collection on carved Pictish stones,with one such stone remaining outside.

After lunch at Dunrobin we continued south to visit the Moniack Winery, about 20 mins from Inverness. Unfortunately, this has changed considerably since my last visit with production no longer undertaken on site . However, wine and conserves are still available for purchase at the shop.

Moniack Winery

Our final visit of the day was the prehistoric Clava Cairns, near Culloden. These impressive burial chambers and stone circles date back to at least to 2000 BC.

Clava Cairns

The Clava site concluded our tour for the day following which we headed back to our lodgings for the night, Ballifeary Guest House, in Inverness.

This afternoon/evening, the weather cleared up although prognosis for tomorrow is for heavy rain!!

Today, was the highlight of our Scotland Tour.

We first visited Ian Sinclair of the Clan Sinclair Study Centre and Library who resides in a former lighthouse close to Wick in N Scotland.

Learning about Clan Sinclair

Ian was a superb host, spending about 2 hours to show us around the Study Centre and then provided a very detailed tour of Sinclair Castle on which the Clan are clearly spending huge sums to stabilise, repair and protect the ancient structures. Fortunately, the weather was clement to extent it was not actually raining and we were able to to admire the views from the castle across Sinclair Bay.

Castle Sinclair and Sinclair Bay

Castle Sinclair

The walk to the castle took us across a natural landscape containing wild cotton and wild orchids.

Wild orchid

After concluding our visit to the castle we repaired to Wick for lunch in the town centre.

Next we we spent about two hours visiting the visited the acclaimed Wick Heritage Museum. Here there is an extensive display of artifacts and images from Wick and environs from bygone days when the town was known as the ‘Herring Capital of Europe’. The tour took about two hours and was good value.

One of the museum hosts provided opportunity for a short visit to the restored, sail powered fishing vessel vessel known as the Isabella Fortuna which is at least 100 years old and in excellent condition due to extensive restoration work (by volunteers).

Isabella Fortuna

With the busy day nearly at an end we paid a short visit to nearby Thurso and Scrabster, the latter still a significant fishing port.

At Wick is the world’s shortest street. Refer image below.

World's Shortest Street

Today, collected my tour group from Clan MacDuff Hotel at Fort William then drove to nearby Inverlochy Castle which dates from the 13th century when it was buit as a Comyn family power base. With help from the information board it is possible to envisage the size and importance of this still significant ruin.

Inverlochy Castle

Next we travelled up the Great Glen through Fort Augustus to Castle Urquhart on Loch Ness. By common consent of the group this was a superb spot to view the famous loch aided by the fact that weather was benign with reasonable sunshine.The castle has an interesting history in its own right, being a fortified location for about 1100 years through to the late 17th century.

Castle Urquhart

Next we travelled up to Inverness and then Invergordon where there is a deepwater port which attracts many large cruise ships. Here, we were impressed with the shopping facilities and unusual murals painted on the walls of various commercial premises.

Mural at Invergordon

Mural at Invergordon

After tracking the impressive east coast of Scotland for a couple of hours we arrived at our destination for the evening of Wick, which is very close to the northern tip of Scotland and our base for tomorrow’s Clan Sinclair themed tour.