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.


A Walk Through Milton Wood

Well, hello there! How are you? Bet you thought I had disappeared. I assure you, friends, I haven’t. The last six weeks have just been completely, utterly, absolutely, and positively BONKERS. Unfortunately, blogging has taken a back seat. But here I am, back with you today and ready to take you on a walk through beautiful Milton Wood. Grab your backpacks – don’t forget to take some water – and let’s be off.

Gorse at the entrance to Milton Wood.
Gorse in full bloom at the entrance to Milton Wood
Walking path in Milton Wood.
Into the woods

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Mandarin Ducks in Scotland? Why Yes There Are!

The last thing one would expect to see in Scotland (outside of a zoo) are Mandarin ducks. But Mandarin ducks we did see!

A couple of months ago, we were walking through Milton Woods (near Farr), along the grassy bank above the River Nairn, when Mr. C spotted some unusual waterfowl swimming below. Not sure what type of birds they were, he attempted to snap some photos. Unfortunately, they caught sight of him and were frightened and flew away. This photo was the best one he got.

It wasn’t until a bit later when I was looking through our photos that I realized what we had seen. How fantastic! Mandarin ducks! In Scotland!

According to BBC Scotland, the birds were introduced to the UK from the Far East in the mid-eighteenth century. Over time, some have managed to escape captivity and have bred and established colonies. There are over 7,000 of these native East Asian species in Britain. Very few have made it all the way to Scotland, which makes what we saw even more special.

Mandarin ducks. In Scotland. Who knew?

Two male Mandarin ducks and one female Mandarin duck swimming in a river.
Two male Mandarin ducks swimming in a river.