Culloden Viaduct

It is so much fun to drive the narrow, single-track roads through Scotland’s countryside. Not only is the scenery beautiful, but it’s along those routes that you often find the best surprises. On this day, the surprise was Culloden Viaduct.

Culloden Viaduct

Culloden Viaduct (also known as Nairn Viaduct) lies about seven miles east of Inverness and about a half-mile from the popular Clava Cairns site. The massive red sandstone masonry viaduct is the longest of its kind in Scotland, at 1,800 ft. Built by the Highland Railway and engineered by Murdoch Paterson, Culloden Viaduct opened to rail traffic in November 1898. Today, it is still in use and is the largest structure on the Highland Main Line (scenic rail) between Perth and Inverness.

An upward view of a viaduct
Constructed of red sandstone with concrete foundations
Free Scotland written on a stone pillar

The viaduct was built on a subtle curve with a 100 ft. wide central arch that spans the River Nairn. Ten 50 ft. wide arches and eighteen 50 ft. wide arches flank the center arch on each side, respectively (twenty-nine in all). Though the structure was built with a double-track width, only one of the tracks remains.

Culloden Viaduct
The wide central arch is flanked by ten smaller arches on one side and eighteen on the other. The River Nairn flows under the largest arch.
Culloden Viaduct

You can see our car and Mr. C in the photo above. Suffice it to say, we felt very tiny next to the giant columns! This was definitely a fun find. The only thing that could have made it better would have been to see a train make the crossing. Maybe next time.

That’s it for today, friends! Have a good one.


Duffus Castle – A Motte and Bailey Design

Hello there, friends. I am looking out my den window at a completely joyless day – well, weather-wise, at least. It is 32º F and misting, with more freezing rain expected later today. It’s the sort of day that makes me extra appreciative of my cozy, warm house and that the first day of spring is only about five weeks away! In light of the weather, I thought today I would talk about Duffus Castle, which we visited on a lovely (and warm) afternoon in May 2019.

Duffus Castle (or Doofus Castle as Mr. C and I like to say just to be silly – admit it, you thought it too) sits near the coast of the Moray Firth in the Moray region in northern Scotland. The site lies about an hour to the northeast of Inverness and ten minutes southeast of Elgin.

A stone road leading to Duffus Castle

Duffus Castle is a fine example of a motte and bailey castle, a common design during the 12th and 13th centuries in Scotland. Don’t worry. I had to look that up too. Wikipedia describes this type of fortification as one having “a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised area of ground called a motte, accompanied by a walled courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade.” Duffus was at one time a more defensible castle than it appears today, as it used to be surrounded by the now drained Loch of Spynie.

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Happy Burns Night 2021!

Wishing my friends in Scotland a very happy Burns Night! Mr. C and I will be celebrating this evening along with you. Our festivities will include watching the fantastic 1983 film “Local Hero” while we enjoy a bowl of delicious cock-a-leekie soup, homemade bread, and of course, raise a glass or two in honor of The Bard.

I leave you today with what is perhaps my favorite poem by Burns, “Afton Water.” I also added a link to “Sweet Afton,” Nickel Creek’s beautiful version of Burns’ poem. Enjoy!

robert burns
Robert Burns, 1759-1796

“Afton Water”, by Robert Burns

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes, 
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise; 
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream, 
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream. 

Thou stock-dove, whose echo resounds thro’ the glen, 
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den, 
Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear, 
I charge you disturb not my slumbering fair. 

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills, 
Far mark’d with the courses of clear winding rills; 
There daily I wander as noon rises high, 
My flocks and my Mary’s sweet cot in my eye. 

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below, 
Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow; 
There oft, as mild Ev’ning sweeps over the lea, 
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me. 

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides, 
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides, 
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave, 
As gathering sweet flowrets she stems thy clear wave. 

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes, 
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays; 
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream, 
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream. 

Happy Burns Night! Slàinte Mhath!

The Sassenach Blended Scotch Whisky

In late November, I rather impulsively pre-ordered a limited batch release of The Sassenach, Sam Heughan’s new premium blended Scotch whisky. (Sam Heughan is the Scottish actor who plays Jamie Fraser on the mega-hit television series “Outlander.”) Reserve Bar was the only place from which to buy it here in the U.S. It’s a darn good thing I snagged it when I did because it is now completely sold out. It took a little over two months to ship and arrive from Scotland, but last week, arrive it did!

A bottle of The Sassenach Blended Scotch Whisky and two whisky glasses

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