Take a Journey into the Highlands

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April 16.  There are so many meanings associated with this important date.  Foremost, it is on this date in 1746 – on the battlefield of Culloden Moor – valiant Highlanders faced their final confrontation of the Jacobite Rising of 1745.  Those who have visited this site have hinted to the strong feelings of emotions that arise – whispers of the indomitable men that fought so bravely upon this battleground – and all that was lost on this date in history.    As we approach the 271st anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, we felt not only a desire to have a moment of reflection on the significant markings of this fateful day, we also wanted to honor the valor and bravery that will always be remembered.

In this blog, we will explore this moment of reflection, our own personal link to this date, and a recent trip to the Highlands that reinforced the beauty and magic of Scotland.

As we await the highly anticipated season three of Outlander, we know for certain we will see the imagery that depicts this monumental battle on the fields of Culloden Moor.  This portrayal will be difficult and heartbreaking to watch, as history dictated that thousands of brave Highlanders and Clansmen lost their lives or were wounded – marking the end of the Highland Clans’ way of life by the enactment of the Act of Proscription in 1747.  There will always be a strong commitment to the remembrance of this day, sustained by the acknowledgement that history will not be forgotten.  Reflection of this date reminds us of the true heart of Scotland – the culture, the people, and it’s heritage – that will always influence people from across the world to appreciate the allure of this country.

Pixabay / Public CC0 1052011

This blog is also in honor of Jae’s father who firmly believed:  “Life should be a strategic adventure or nothing at all.”  His spirit continues to live in all who loved him, reminding Jae to always seek experiences that will encourage expansion of the mind and spirit.  April 16, 2017 would have been his 73rd birthday.  As we celebrate him also today, we can imagine his voice – toned with a life full of achievement, sacrifice, and bold spirit –  telling us that adventure awaits all of us.  His great love and appreciation for history inspired many of our travels, including this one.  From lochs and castles, to historically significant places of interest, we have put together some recent highlights that our Sass3 family had on their own discovery of the Highlands.

Come and take a moment to follow an opportunity to escape and explore the endless beauty of Scottish Highlands.  ♥

Loch Fyne Whiskies in Inverary, Scotland

Fraser didn’t ask but poured them each a dram of whisky, warm-smelling and smoke-tinged. There was something comfortable in drinking whisky in company, no matter how bad the whisky. Or the company, for that matter.

Written In My Own Hearts Blood by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 31.

The first stop on the tour was the picturesque town of Inveraray.  Located on the shores of Loch Fyne, you will find that you are surrounded by the beauty of the town and it’s natural surroundings.  It is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell, who officially founded the town of Inveraray in the year 1745.  Seemed fitting to go to Loch Fyne Whiskies to see The Living Cask 1745, inspired by Inveraray’s location and the historic year that the town was formally established.


As you enter Loch Fyne Whiskies, you will notice the large selection of rare blend whiskies.   Staffed by friendly and knowledgeable personnel, you will have the pleasure of discovering and broadening your own personal tastes of whisky.


You are guaranteed to find the perfect wee dram to take with you further into the Highlands.   As a gift, we were given three variations of the Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky to use with a new tartan flask.  It did not disappoint!


There are so many remnants of history to be found here. The George Hotel is a striking building within the town of Inveraray.  It originally consisted of two private homes which were constructed as part of a project commissioned by the 3rd Duke of Argyll in 1744.  Times have certainly changed! Originally, the bottom floors were made as temporary churches for the Gaelic and English speaking congregations of the community. This change was ordered by the 5th Duke of Argyll in 1776. Now the hotel is known for their food and selection of drinks on tap.  It’s a perfect place to take a moment to rest, while waiting to travel to the next location in the Highlands.

In 1860 the two private houses were combined into The George Hotel.

Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona

Bless to me, O God, the moon that is above me,

Bless to me, O God, the earth that is beneath me,

Bless to me, O God, my wife and my children,

And Bless, O God, myself who have care of them.

Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 25.

History has demonstrated that religion has played an integral role in the culture of Scotland.  As avid readers, we can also recognize the importance of religion within the context of the Outlander series. Traveling to see the Iona Abbey, located off the Isle of Mull, was the perfect location to gain more understanding of the relationship between religion and the culture of Scotland.  With over 1,450 years of dynamic history, the Iona Abbey has been identified as being the center of Scottish Christianity.

View from the ferry as you arrive in Iona.

Iona’s place in history began in 563 AD when St. Columba arrived with only 12 followers.  The missionary was soon to be recognized in time by all of Europe, leading to its prominence as a place of pilgrimage for centuries to come.   Iona also became a sacred place where many early Scottish kings have been buried, as well as kings from Ireland and Norway.


Erected in front of the Iona Abbey stands the MacLean’s Cross.  It is one of the most well preserved celtic crosses in the British Isles.  Carved in the 15th century, the cross stands over 9 feet tall and is remarkably well preserved considering the natural elements of this area.


The cross is sculpted from a single solid block of stone with designs that display intricate foliage and plait work on both sides. There are animals engraved on the east facing side and a crucifixion on the west facing side.   An armed horseman, who may be meant to represent the MacLean chief who paid for the cross, is depicted at the foot of the cross shaft.

Iona Abbey was a beautiful location filled with history, endless blue sea, and amazing landscape.  It was truly a memorable place to visit!

Mount Stewart House, Isle of Bute

“Mmphm” was Murtagh’s solitary observation, upon beholding Jared’s House.  “I’ll find my own lodging.”

“And if it makes you nervous to have a decent roof above your head, man, ye can sleep in the stables,” Jamie suggested.

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 7.

Another memorable location traveled by our Sass3 family was Mount Stewart House.  It was another strikingly beautiful destination on their Highland tour. With an established time allotment and a huge estate to explore, they explored on their own using the literature and descriptions provided by their guides.

The original house was built in 1719 by the 2nd Earl of Bute, but rebuilt by the 3rd Marquess of Bute following a fire on 3 December 1877 (source: wikipedia).

This is the location of the ancestral seat of the Stuarts of Bute, derived from “Steward of Bute” held since 1157.  They are direct male-line descendants of John Stewart, the illegitimate son of King Robert II of Scotland, the first Stuart King.  By virtue of this descent, they are also descendants of Robert the Bruce.


The architecture of the building was striking.  In addition, everything inside the House matched the grandiose nature of the building itself.  From the grand Entrance Hall to the Marble Rooms, all aspects of the House were a treasure to experience.

Marble Staircase in Mount Stewart House.

The Marble Staircase was a stunning feature to see. The self-guided reading material was interesting to read.  It stated that each stair was actually constructed of carrara marble and black ‘English Marble.’  Both of these materials are actually fossilized limestone, containing 325 million year old fossils found in the county of Durham.  You couldn’t help but try to slowly take in the grand design and locate possible fossil detailing in the stairs themselves!

Marble Chapel in Mount Stewart House.

You inevitably feel speechless as you enter the Marble Chapel.  This was one of the last areas of the house to be constructed.  It is still used today to hold weddings, celebrations, and concerts.  Wouldn’t you love to attend a festivity here?  We know we would!  You can see more pictures on our Flickr account here.

The journey through the Highlands of Scotland always leaves you wanting more.  The friendliness of the people, the incredible culture, the diverse history, and the ability to trace references from the Outlander series – brings forth immediate reflection as you trace living points of history.  However, it is also through the Outlander series that we can explore our own definitions of faith – anchored in truths that are encountered during moments of triumph or difficulty – that enable us to endure any hardship presented to us.  We see this in all components of history, even in our own lives.  Thus, April 16th has even more meaning:  the commemoration of a battle, a celebration of life that endures, and hope, as we celebrate Easter all on this one special day.   We thank our Sass3 family for sharing their adventure.  This is a journey we hope to take for ourselves in the near future, until then we will keep dreaming, writing, and meeting friends across the world.  ♥

All photos from our blogs are owned by Timeless Sass3nach Journeys, unless noted or attributed. The use of our photos is not permitted unless consent is given.

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