Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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Hector Donald Monument, Dingwall, Scotland

This evening, I am posting information on the Hector MacDonald Monument in Dingwall, a town located on the southern tip of the Cromarty Firth,  about 14 miles N.W. of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

Hector Archibald MacDonald was a Victorian soldier who joined the army at age 17 years in 1871 and rose rapidly through the ranks. He was commissioned from the ranks in 1880 and then promoted Major, Colonel, Major-General, awarded a Knighthood and finally Commander of British Forces in Ceylon ( now Sri-Lanka). MacDonald saw action at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898.

MacDonald’s other claim to fame is his image on the label of  Camp Coffee bottles (below). This cannot be categorically proven but the image on the bottle shows a remarkable resemblance to MacDonald who at the time was a 22-year-old NCO based at Fort George near Inverness. Camp Coffee, an early form of instant coffee, was introduced n 1876 and is still in production.

MacDonald came from humble farming stock and his rapid ascent through the ranks gave rise to jealously and envy which in turn fuelled inaccurate rumours concerning his sexuality which in turn led to MacDonald’s suicide in 1903.

In recognition of MacDonald’s life and achievements his friends contributed to the raising of a massive monument above the town of Dingwall, near his birthplace of Rootfield.

Camp Coffee label with image of NCO, Hector MacDonald

Hector MacDonald Monument, Dingwalll, Scotland

Loch of the Lowes, Perthshire, Scotland

This evening, I am posting information on Loch of the Lowes, a freshwater lake near Dunkeld in central Scotland.

The loch and environs comprises a protected wildlife reserve managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Star attraction is a pair of breeding Ospreys in addition to which visitors may be able to spot:

  • Rare Red Squirrels.
  • Deer.
  • Wildflowers.
  • Wildfowl
  • Various small birds at the feeding tables.

This scenic area also includes aquatic flora, reed beds, woodland and wildflowers.

There is a visitor centre, hides for the birdwatchers plus a webcam.

Here us a video clip of the loch.

Loch of the Lowes, Perthshire, Scotland

Clifford’s Tower, York, England

This evening, I am providing information on Clifford’s Tower in York, England, a Norman edifice which sits somewhat incongruously with the city’s Roman and Viking heritage.

The current structure is the most recent incarnation of a succession of fortifications on the site dating back over 1000 years. A summary chronology is as follows:

  • First construction was a timber structure built 1068 by William the Conqueror to consolidate his power in the North.
  • Repaired and restored 1190-1194 following a fire when 150 jews were massacred. Mound raised to present height at this time.
  • In 1245 the second timber structure was destroyed by a gale.
  • Rebuilt in stone by Henry III ( 1207-1272) in form of a quatrefoil, 50 feet high and 200 feet in diameter.
  • Damaged due to subsidence in 1350.
  • Attempted unauthorised demolition in 1596.
  • Occupied in 1642 by troops during English civil war.
  • Incorporated in York prison 1825.
  • Now a visitor attraction operated by English Heritage.

Cliffords Tower, York, England