Mouth of the River Ness

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Inverness meaning "Mouth of the River Ness" is a city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. Inverness lies near two important battle sites: the 11th century battle of Blàr nam Fèinne against Norway which took place on The Aird and the 18th century Battle of Culloden which took place on Culloden Moor. It is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom and lies within the Great Glen (Gleann Mòr) at its north-eastern extremity where the River Ness enters the Moray Firth. At the latest, a settlement was established by the 6th century with the first royal charter being granted by Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim (King David I) in the 12th century. The Gaelic king Mac Bethad Mac Findláich (MacBeth) whose 11th Century murder of King Duncan was immortalised in Shakespeare's play, held a castle within the city where he ruled as Mormaer of Moray and Ross.
Inverness was one of the chief strongholds of the Picts, and in AD 565 was visited by St Columba with the intention of converting the Pictish king Brude, who is supposed to have resided in the vitrified fort on Craig Phadrig,[14] on the western edge of the city. A 93 oz (2.6 kg) silver chain dating to 500–800 was found just to the south of Torvean in 1983. A church or a monk's cell is thought to have been established by early Celtic monks on St Michael's Mount, a mound close to the river, now the site of the Old High Church and graveyard. The castle is said to have been built by Máel Coluim III (Malcolm III) of Scotland, after he had razed to the ground the castle in which Mac Bethad mac Findláich (Macbeth) had, according to much later tradition, murdered Máel Coluim's father Donnchad (Duncan I), and which stood on a hill around 1 km to the north-east.
The strategic location of Inverness has led to many conflicts in the area. Reputedly there was a battle in the early 11th century between King Malcolm and Thorfinn of Norway at Blar Nam Feinne, to the southwest of the city.
Inverness had four traditional fairs, including Legavrik or "Leth-Gheamhradh", meaning midwinter, and Faoilleach. William the Lion (d. 1214) granted Inverness four charters, by one of which it was created a royal burgh. Of the Dominican friary founded by Alexander III in 1233, only one pillar and a worn knight's effigy survive in a secluded graveyard near the town centre.
Medieval Inverness suffered regular raids from the Western Isles, particularly by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles in the fifteenth century. In 1187 one Domhnall Bán (Donald Bane) led islanders in a battle at Torvean against men from Inverness Castle led by the governor's son, Donnchadh Mac An Toisich (Duncan Mackintosh). Both leaders were killed in the battle, Donald Bane is said to have been buried in a large cairn near the river, close to where the silver chain was found. Local tradition says that the citizens fought off the Clan MacDonald in 1340 at the Battle of Blairnacoi on Drumderfit Hill, north of Inverness across the Beauly Firth. On his way to the Battle of Harlaw in 1411, Donald of Islay harried the city, and sixteen years later James I held a parliament in the castle to which the northern chieftains were summoned, of whom three were executed for asserting an independent sovereignty.[citation needed] Clan Munro defeated Clan Mackintosh in 1454 at the Battle of Clachnaharry just west of the city. The Clan MacDonald and their allies stormed the castle during the Raid on Ross in 1491.

Engraving of Inverness from A Tour in Scotland by Thomas Pennant, 1771.

In 1562, during the progress undertaken to suppress Huntly's insurrection, Mary, Queen of Scots, was denied admittance into Inverness Castle by the governor, who belonged to the earl's faction, and whom she afterwards caused to be hanged. The Clan Munro and Clan Fraser took the castle for her. The house in which she lived meanwhile stood in Bridge Street until the 1970s, when it was demolished to make way for the second Bridge Street development.
Beyond the then northern limits of the town, Oliver Cromwell built a citadel capable of accommodating 1,000 men, but with the exception of a portion of the ramparts it was demolished at the Restoration. The only surviving modern remnant is a clock tower.
Inverness played a role in the first Jacobite rising in 1689. In early May, it was besieged by a contingent of Jacobites led by MacDonnell of Keppoch. The town was actually rescued by Viscount Dundee, the overall Jacobite commander, when he arrived with the main Jacobite army, although he required Inverness to profess loyalty to King James VII.
In 1715 the Jacobites occupied the royal fortress as a barracks. In 1727 the government built the first Fort George here, but in 1746 it surrendered to the Jacobites and they blew it up.[24]
Culloden Moor lies nearby, and was the site of the Battle of Culloden in 1746, which ended the Jacobite Rising of 1745–1746.
On 7 September 1921, the first British Cabinet meeting to be held outside London took place in the Town House, when David Lloyd George, on holiday in Gairloch, called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Ireland. The Inverness Formula composed at this meeting was the basis of the Anglo-Irish Treaty

Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 km (23 mi) southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 15.8 m (52 ft) above sea level. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as "Nessie". It is connected at the southern end by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal to Loch Oich. At the northern end there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness. It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil.
Loch Ness is the second largest Scottish loch by surface area at 56.4 km2 (21.8 sq mi) after Loch Lomond, but due to its great depth, it is the largest by volume. Its deepest point is 230 m (755 ft),[1][2] making it the second deepest lake in Scotland after Loch Morar. It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and is the largest body of water on the Great Glen Fault, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south.
At Drumnadrochit is "The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition" which examines the natural history and legend of Loch Ness. Boat cruises operate from various locations on the loch shore, giving visitors the chance to look for the "monster".
Loch Ness Monster
Loch Ness is the alleged home of the Loch Ness Monster (also known as "Nessie"), a cryptid, reputedly a large unknown animal. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next. Popular interest and belief in the animal's existence has varied since it was first brought to the world's attention in 1933.
Urquhart Castle (About this sound listen (help·info); Scottish Gaelic: Caisteal na Sròine) sits beside Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland. The castle is on the A82 road, 21 kilometres (13 mi) south-west of Inverness and 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) east of the village of Drumnadrochit.
The present ruins date from the 13th to the 16th centuries, though built on the site of an early medieval fortification. Founded in the 13th century, Urquhart played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century. It was subsequently held as a royal castle, and was raided on several occasions by the MacDonald Earls of Ross. The castle was granted to the Clan Grant in 1509, though conflict with the MacDonalds continued. Despite a series of further raids the castle was strengthened, only to be largely abandoned by the middle of the 17th century. Urquhart was partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent its use by Jacobite forces, and subsequently decayed. In the 20th century it was placed in state care and opened to the public: it is now one of the most-visited castles in Scotland.
The castle, situated on a headland overlooking Loch Ness, is one of the largest in Scotland in area. It was approached from the west and defended by a ditch and drawbridge. The buildings of the castle were laid out around two main enclosures on the shore. The northern enclosure or Nether Bailey includes most of the more intact structures, including the gatehouse, and the five-storey Grant Tower at the north end of the castle. The southern enclosure or Upper Bailey, sited on higher ground, comprises the scant remains of earlier buildings.
Some sources state that William the Lion had a royal castle at Urquhart in the 12th century, though Professor Alcock finds no evidence for this. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Meic Uilleim (MacWilliams), descendents of Malcolm III, staged a series of rebellions against David I and his successors. The last of these rebellions was put down in 1229, and to maintain order Alexander II granted Urquhart to his Hostarius (usher or door-ward), Thomas de Lundin. On de Lundin's death a few years later it passed to his son Alan Durward. It is considered likely that the original castle was built soon after this time, centred on the motte at the south-west of the site. In 1275, after Alan's death, the king granted Urquhart to John II Comyn, Lord of Badenoch.
The first documentary record of Urquhart Castle occurs in 1296, when it was captured by Edward I of England.[12] Edward's invasion marked the beginning of the Wars of Scottish Independence, which would go on intermittently until 1357. Edward appointed Sir William fitz Warin as constable to hold the castle for the English. In 1297 he was ambushed by Sir Andrew de Moray while returning from Inverness, and Moray subsequently laid siege to the castle, launching an unsuccessful night attack. The English must have been dislodged soon after, since in 1298 Urquhart was again controlled by the Scots. In 1303 Sir Alexander de Forbes failed to hold off another English assault. This time Edward installed as governor Alexander Comyn, brother of John, as the family had sided with the English against Robert Bruce. Following his murder of the Red Comyn in 1306, Bruce completed his defeat of the Comyns when he marched through the Great Glen in 1307, taking the castles of Inverlochy, Urquhart and Inverness. After this time Urquhart became a royal castle, held for the crown by a series of constables.

The remains of the 13th-century "shell keep" or motte is the earliest part of the castle to survive

Sir Robert Lauder of Quarrelwood was constable of Urquhart Castle in 1329. After fighting at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333, where the Scots were defeated, Lauder returned to hold Urquhart against another threatened English invasion. It is recorded as being one of only five castles in Scotland held by the Scots at this time.[nb 1] In 1342, David II spent the summer hunting at Urquhart, the only king to have stayed here.
Over the next two hundred years, the Great Glen was raided frequently by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, powerful rulers of a semi-independent kingdom in western Scotland, with a claim to the earldom of Ross. In 1395, Domhnall of Islay seized Urquhart Castle from the crown, and managed to retain it for more than 15 years. In 1411, he marched through the glen to take on the king's supporters at the Battle of Harlaw. Although an indecisive battle, Domhnall subsequently lost the initiative and the crown was soon back in control of Urquhart.[18] In 1437 Domhnall's son Alexander, now Earl of Ross, raided around Glen Urquhart but could not take the castle. Royal funds were granted to shore up the castle's defences. Alexander's son John succeeded his father in 1449, aged 16. In 1452 he too led a raid up the Great Glen, seizing Urquhart, and subsequently obtained a grant of the lands and castle of Urquhart for life. However, in 1462 John made an agreement with Edward IV of England against the Scottish King James III. When this became known to James in 1476, John was stripped of his titles, and Urquhart was turned over to an ally, the Earl of Huntly.
Huntly brought in Sir Duncan Grant of Freuchie to restore order to the area around Urquhart Castle. His son John Grant of Freuchie (d.1538) was given a five-year lease of the Glen Urquhart estate in 1502. In 1509, Urquhart Castle, along with the estates of Glen Urquhart and Glenmoriston, was granted by James IV to John Grant in perpetuity, on condition that he repair and rebuild the castle. The Grants maintained their ownership of the castle until 1912, although the raids from the west continued. In 1513, following the disaster of Flodden, Sir Donald MacDonald of Lochalsh attempted to gain from the disarray in Scotland by claiming the Lordship of the Isles and occupying Urquhart Castle. Grant regained the castle before 1517, but not before the MacDonalds had driven off 300 cattle and 1,000 sheep, as well as looting the castle of provisions. Grant unsuccessfully attempted to claim damages from MacDonald. James Grant of Freuchie (d.1553) succeeded his father, and in 1544 became involved with Huntly and Clan Fraser in a feud with the Macdonalds of Clanranald, which culminated in the Battle of the Shirts. In retaliation, the MacDonalds and their allies the Camerons attacked and captured Urquhart in 1545. Known as the "Great Raid", this time the MacDonalds succeeded in taking 2,000 cattle, as well as hundreds of other animals, and stripped the castle of its furniture, cannon, and even the gates. Grant regained the castle, and was also awarded Cameron lands as recompense.
The Great Raid proved to be the last raid. In 1527, the historian Hector Boece wrote of the "rewinous wallis" of Urquhart, but by the close of the 16th century Urquhart had been rebuilt by the Grants, now a powerful force in the Highlands. Repairs and remodelling continued as late as 1623, although the castle was no longer a favoured residence. In 1644 a mob of Covenanters (Presbyterian agitators) broke into the castle when Lady Mary Grant was staying, robbing her and turning her out for her adherence to Episcopalianism. An inventory taken in 1647 shows the castle virtually empty. When Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland in 1650, he disregarded Urquhart in favour of building forts at either end of the Great

When James VII was deposed in the Revolution of 1688, Ludovic Grant of Freuchie sided with William of Orange and garrisoned the castle with 200 of his own soldiers. Though lacking weapons they were well-provisioned and, when a force of 500 Jacobites (supporters of the exiled James) laid siege, the garrison were able to hold out until after the defeat of the main Jacobite force at Cromdale in May 1690. When the soldiers finally left they blew up the gatehouse to prevent reoccupation of the castle by the Jacobites. Large blocks of collapsed masonry are still visible beside the remains of the gatehouse. Parliament ordered £2,000 compensation to be paid to Grant, but no repairs were undertaken. Subsequent plundering of the stonework and other materials for re-use by locals further reduced the ruins, and the Grant Tower partially collapsed following a storm in 1715.]

Later history
By the 1770s the castle was roofless, and was regarded as a romantic ruin by 19th-century painters and visitors to the Highlands. In 1884 the castle came under the control of Caroline, Dowager Countess of Seafield, widow of the 7th Earl of Seafield, on the death of her son the 8th Earl. On Lady Seafield's death in 1911 her will instructed that Urquhart Castle be entrusted into state care, and in October 1913 responsibility for the castle's upkeep was transferred to the Commissioners of His Majesty's Works and Public Buildings. Historic Scotland, the successor to the Office of Works, continues to maintain the castle, which is a category A listed building and a scheduled monument in recognition of its national significance.
In 1994 Historic Scotland proposed construction of a new visitor centre and car park to alleviate the problems of parking on the main A82 road. Strong local opposition led to a public inquiry, which approved the proposals in 1998. The new building is sunk into the embankment below the road, with provision for parking on the roof of the structure. The visitor centre includes a display on the history of the site, including a series of replicas from the medieval period; a cinema; a restaurant; and shop. The castle is open all year, and can also host wedding ceremonies. In 2011 more than 315,000 people visited Urquhart Castle, making it Historic Scotland's third most visited site after the castles of Edinburgh and Stirling.

Fort William & Ben Nevis

Fort William ("The Garrison") is the second largest settlement in the highlands of Scotland and the largest town: only the city of Inverness is larger.
Fort William is a major tourist centre with Glen Coe just to the south, Aonach Mòr to the north and Glenfinnan to the west, on the Road to the Isles. It is a centre for hillwalking and climbing due to its proximity to Ben Nevis and many other Munro mountains. It is also known for its nearby downhill mountain bike track. It is the start/end of both the West Highland Way (Milngavie/Fort William) and the Great Glen Way; a walk/cycle way (Fort William/Inverness).
Around 726 people (7.33% of the population) can speak Gaelic.
Historically, this area of Lochaber was strongly Clan Cameron country, and there were a number of mainly Cameron settlements in the area (such as Blarmacfoldach). The nearby settlement of Inverlochy was the main settlement in the area before the building of the fort, and was also site of the Battle of Inverlochy.
The town grew up as a settlement next to a fort constructed to control the population after Oliver Cromwell's invasion during the English Civil War, and then to suppress the Jacobite uprisings of the 18th century. The fort was named "Fort William"' after William of Orange, and the settlement that grew around it was called "Maryburgh", after his wife. This settlement was later renamed "Gordonsburgh", and then "Duncansburgh"before being renamed "Fort William", this time after Prince William, Duke of Cumberland; known to some Scots as "Butcher Cumberland". Given these origins, there have been various suggestions over the years to rename the town (for example, to "Invernevis"). These proposals have led to nothing yet.
In the Jacobite rising known as the Forty-Five, Fort William was besieged for two weeks by the Jacobites, from 20 March to 3 April 1746. However, although the Jacobites had captured both of the other forts in the chain of three Great Glen fortifications (Fort Augustus and the original Fort George) they failed to take Fort William.
During the Second World War, Fort William was the home of HMS St Christopher which was a training base for Royal Navy Coastal Forces.
More on the history of the town and the region can be found in the West Highland Museum on the High Street.
Fort William is the northern end of the West Highland Way, a long distance route which runs 95 miles through the Scottish Highlands to Milngavie, on the outskirts of Glasgow, and the start/end point of the Great Glen Way, which runs between Fort William and Inverness.
On 2 June 2006, a fire destroyed McTavish's Restaurant in Fort William High Street along with the two shops which were part of the building. The restaurant had been open since the 1970s and prior to that the building had been Fraser's Cafe since the 1920s. Development work began in 2012 on new hotel accommodation and street-level shops. It is unclear when this project will be completed.
Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles. Standing at 1,344 metres (4,409 ft) above sea level, it is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William.
The mountain is a popular destination, attracting an estimated 100,000 ascents a year, around three-quarters of which use the Pony Track from Glen Nevis. The 700-metre (2,300 ft) cliffs of the north face are among the highest in the United Kingdom, providing classic scrambles and rock climbs of all difficulties for climbers and mountaineers. They are also the principal locations in the UK for ice climbing.
The summit, which is the collapsed dome of an ancient volcano, features the ruins of an observatory which was continuously staffed between 1883 and 1904. The meteorological data collected during this period are still important for understanding Scottish mountain weather. C. T. R. Wilson was inspired to invent the cloud chamber after a period spent working at the observatory.
The first recorded ascent of Ben Nevis was made on 17 August 1771 by James Robertson, an Edinburgh botanist, who was in the region to collect botanical specimens. Another early ascent was in 1774 by John Williams, who provided the first account of the mountain's geological structure. John Keats climbed the mountain in 1818, comparing the ascent to "mounting ten St. Pauls without the convenience of a staircase". It was not until 1847 that Ben Nevis was confirmed by the Ordnance Survey as the highest mountain in Britain and Ireland, ahead of its rival Ben Macdhui.
The summit observatory was built in the summer of 1883, and would remain in operation for 21 years. The first path to the summit was built at the same time as the observatory and was designed to allow ponies to carry up supplies, with a maximum gradient of one in five. The opening of the path and the observatory made the ascent of the Ben increasingly popular, all the more so after the arrival of the West Highland Railway in Fort William in 1894. Around this time the first of several proposals was made for a rack railway to the summit, none of which came to fruition.
In 2000, the Ben Nevis Estate, comprising all of the south side of the mountain including the summit, was bought by the Scottish conservation charity the John Muir Trust.

Glencoe or Glencoe Village is the main settlement near Glen Coe in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands. It lies at the north-west end of the glen, on the southern bank of the River Coe where it enters Loch Leven a salt-water loch off Loch Linnhe).
The village falls within the Ross, Skye and Lochaber part of the Highland council area for local government purposes. It is part of the registration county of Argyll and the lieutenancy area of Inverness for ceremonial functions.
The use of the term 'Glencoe Village' is a modern one, to differentiate the settlement from the glen itself.
The village is on the site of the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692, in which the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by forces acting on behalf of the government of King William II following the Glorious Revolution.
The village is not actually in Glen Coe itself, but sits near the entrance to the glen and occupies an area known as Carnoch. Native Gaelic speakers who belong to the area always refer to the village as A'Charnaich, meaning "the place of cairns".[2] Even today there is Upper Carnoch and Lower Carnoch. A small hospital - currently empty - with emergency services at Fort William 16 miles away, lies at the southern end of the village just over an arched stone bridge.

Culture and community

Within Carnoch there is a small village shop, Scottish Episcopal Church, Glencoe and North Lorn local history museum, Post Office, Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team centre, an outdoor centre, a number of bed and breakfast establishments, and a small primary school. Several eating establishments are around including the Glencoe Hotel, Glencoe Cafe and The Clachaig Inn. Glencoe is also a popular location for self-catering holidays; with many chalets, cottages and lodges available for weekly and short break rental. Also located in the village, but along the A82, is the Glencoe Visitor Centre, run by the National Trust for Scotland. This modern (constructed in 2002) visitor centre houses a coffee shop, store, and information centre.
The village is surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery and is popular with serious hill-walkers, rock and ice climbers. It has been seen in numerous films, including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as the home of Hagrid, and the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall, also known from Ian Fleming's original novels as the birthplace of James Bond's father Andrew Bond.

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