It was a pleasure to see happy, if tired, faces at Aviemore Railway Station yesterday, amongst them two old friends from last year's tour. A refreshing walk down to the River Spey, the evening light on the Cairngorm Mountains, and an excellent dinner at Corrour House set everyone up for an interesting first day.
The Clava Cairns with the split stone might have been today's highlight. Or maybe Culloden Battlefield. But the deepest impression was probably left by the Lovat Mausoleum at the old Wardlaw Cemetery. The memorial plaques on the wall date back to 1634, and in the centre, secured by a padlocked cover, is the entrance to a crypt. The 11th Lord Lovat, most notorious of his line and known as the 'Old Fox' lies down there. Hauling on the two cast iron rings to lift the heavy oak trapdoor and reveal the stairs was a touch dramatic. Not everyone decided to go down; but those who did found several lead-lined coffins, one of which, poignantly, is that of a child. In another, so they say, lies the corpse of the 11th lord, beheaded in 1747 for his part in the 1745 Rising; his body was smuggled north whilst his head was still on display in London.
Tonight we returned to Corrour, and to a fascinating presentation on Culloden by Hugh Allison who also signed copies of his new book, 'Culloden Tales'.
Here is the group on the battlefield.