Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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(Video clip above shows Ben Loyal and Castle Varrich, Tongue.)

This morning, we departed our lodgings in Tongue in the far north of Scotland and drove south-east for a couple of hours to our first destination of Dunrobin Castle on the east coast. Travelling down we passed through ‘Mackay Country’ landscape on a single-track road comprising heather vegetation, peat cuttings, flocks of sheep with lambs, rivers, small lochs (lakes), gorse in flower (brilliant yellow) and even a family of geese with goslings. This took us initially to the village of Helmsdale and then on to Dunrobin Castle.

Dunrobin Castle is more of a palace than a castle, being the 19th century home of the super-rich, Duke of Sutherland. Here we toured the castle interior, gardens and witnessed an excellent falconry display.

Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland, Scotland

Formal gardens at Dunrobin Castle, Scotland

Harris Hawk, part of falconry display at Dunrobin Castle

Next, we drove  a little further south to the pleasant small town of Dornoch and paid a brief  visit to the beach and golf club.

Next, we continued south. through Inverness to Culloden Battlefield, site of the last battle on British soil, in 1746. It was here that the Jacobite forces under Bonnie Prince Charlie were defeated by the Hanoverians under General Cumberland resulting in massive casualties for the Highlanders.

Culloden Battlefield Site, Scotland

Next, a short distance to the prehistoric cemetery of Clava Cairns dating from around 2000 BC.

Clava Cairns, Scotland

Finally, we reached our lodgings in Inverness by around 6.00pm.

Tomorrow, we continue south, to Stirling and Edinburgh.

Mackay Country, Scotland

Today, we embarked on a personal ancestry tour themed on Clan Mackay.

From Inverness, we drove north across the Cromarty Firth to Conon Bridge and then on to Lairg where we visited the church and a tour around the village which sits on the southern tip of Loch Shin.

Dornoch Firth, Scotland

Lairg War Memorial, Scotland

Lairg Church, Scotland

Next, we continued north along the single track A836 stopping for a photo at the ‘Mackay Country’ monument which is in the heart of a remote, heather-clad area.

We arrived in Tongue on the eastern side of the Kyle of Tongue ( on the northern coast) at lunchtime and availed of a light lunch in a hotel. Up until this time weather was dry but thereafter clouded over with rain later in the afternoon.

Kyle of Tongue, Scotland

After lunch we drove east, through Coldbackie and then to the Strathnavar Museum near Bettyhill. This is an interesting facility housed in a former church with emphasis on local social history and Clan Mackay. The burial ground has a considerable number of memorials with surname Mackay. Also in the burial ground is carved Pictish stone from around the 9th century AD.

Strathnavar Museum, Scotland

Carved Pictish Stone, Stratnavar, Scotland

After concluding the Bettyhill visit we returned to Tongue and checked into our hotel. Guests then embarked on a short hike to visit the ruins of Castle Varrich which was the ancient seat of the Chief of Clan Mackay.

Castle Varrich, Tongue, Scotland

Ben Loyal, near Tongue, Scotland

Tomorrow, we return south via Dubrobin Castle.

Commando Memorial and Nevis Range, Spean Bridge

This morning, I collected guests from central Glasgow and proceeded on a tour through the Trossachs region then Glencoe, Great Glen, Loch Ness culminating in Inverness. Weather progressively improved with most of the day characterised by blue skies and sunshine. Specific sites visited were:

  • Quaint, heritage village of Luss on the banks of Loch Lomond.
  • Rannoch Moor and views of Loch Tulla.
  • Mountains of Glencoe.
  • Loch Linnhe and Fort William.
  • Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge with views of the Nevis mountain range.
  • Fort Augustus.
  • Castle Urquhart on the bank of Loch Ness.

Tomorrow, we drive north to Clan Mackay country.

Luss, Scotland

Viking era ‘hogback’ grave-marker, Luss, Scotland

Luss Parish Church, Scotland

Loch Tulla, Scotland

Glencoe, Scottish Highlands

Glencoe, Scottish Highlands

Castle Urquhart, Loch Ness, Scotland

Inverness, Scottish Highlands