The Clava Cairns and Culloden Woods
Visiting the Highlands out of season is a great option if you enjoy getting out in the fresh air and walking and want to avoid the tourist crowds. Whilst some castles and other attractions are still closed for their winter break, there are still many really interesting historical sites that you can visit, often for free, that are open all year round.
Inverness is a great base for visiting out of season, as it has a relatively mild micro-climate being at sea level and close to the Moray Firth. When staying at our Inverness bed & Breakfast we will help you plan your day based on your interests and the weather conditions (which can vary quite a lot in just a few miles). Bring layers of clothing, some waterproof walking boots, and a wind-proof, water-proof jacket and you’re all set for a day of exploring.
The Outlander television series and books have attracted a lot of location tourists over the past few years, and the National Trust for Scotland’s Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre is a popular choice for visitors. The battlefield and memorial cairn are open all year round and are free to walk around, although there is a fee to go to the exhibition at the Visitor Centre when it is open.
Just a mile from the battlefield, the Clava Cairns is a Bronze Age burial site where you can see three quite well-preserved burial cairns and stone circles which date back about 4,000 years. As a bonus, you can also get a great view of Culloden Railway Viaduct from the carpark.
Whilst you’re in the area, why not take a walk through Culloden Woods, where there are a number of fascinating historical and unique sites to pique your interest. St Mary’s Well is a wonderful example of a pagan Clootie Well, where traditionally a piece of cloth (or cloot) was dipped in the water and tied to one of the surrounding trees to wish for a recovery from illness or as a symbol of respect to honour the spirits of the well.
You may be lucky enough to spot some early gorse coming into bloom as we did on a visit in February. Towards the end of the walk, you will also see the Prisoners’ Stone, a grim reminder of the Battle of Culloden which was the last battle fought on British soil, and which marked the defeat of the troops of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
If you are interested in the history surrounding the various Jacobite uprisings then The Culloden Battlefield Visitors Centre has a fantastic exhibition, and you can also take a trip down to Inverness Museum, which has a display of artefacts dating back to the time of the battle. Please remember to check opening times as a number of places will have restricted opening times outside the summer season.