Scotland: Sheepdogs, Scones, and Battlefields

One of the parts of Scotland I was most looking forward to was the Highlands. It just seemed like this area would be Scotland at its most essential, its most classic: rolling hills and tartan and thick brogues and sheep galore. And while it wasn’t necessarily quite the movie version cliche of Scotland that I may have envisioned, the Highlands were pretty classic.

We began by heading to Leault Farm in Kincraig, where we saw a sheep herding demonstration. Led by farmer Neil, the sheepdogs executed a variety of maneuvers to herd the sheep around several fields. It was fascinating to watch them (and Neil) work, particularly since many of the commands sounded like complete gibberish to my ear. Toward the end, Neil let the new sheepdog puppies come out to play and they were unbearably adorable. A lot of very good boys!

At lunchtime, we made our way to the oh-so-charming Rowan Tree Country Hotel, which was covered in flowers and had some gorgeous views of the surrounding hills from its backyard. We went inside and found the tables already set with plates of the most magnificent scones, huge and fluffy, stuffed with cream and jam, and topped with strawberries. They also brought out hot Scotch broth for us, which basically seemed like Scotland’s answer to chicken noodle soup, but with lamb swapped for chicken. It was a perfect little country lunch.

In the afternoon, we made our way to Culloden Battlefield, the scene of the famous clash between the Jacobite and British armies in 1746 (and known mostly to me because of Outlander, of course). While I’m not much for battlefield talk or tactics, the setup here is well done. We began by going into a room where you stand in the center and the walls surrounding you project a reenactment of the battle – kind of a neat way to make what unfolded easier to understand. Afterwards, we made our way to the battlefield itself, where you can find memorial stones for the various clans and take in views of the surrounding countryside, which is (naturally) quite pretty. I mean, what else would it be, in the Highlands?

We ended our day in Inverness, our home for the next two evenings. After checking into our hotel, we took a brief walk around town before grabbing fish ‘n chips for dinner. As we walked back to our hotel after dinner, the the sun setting over the river was just gorgeous.

Luckily, our Highland adventures weren’t over yet … but that is a tale for another day.

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