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Outlander inspiration in the Cairngorms

Jacobite caves

On July 28, 2016 By Rebecca Field In All things hiking Explaining Scotland Outlander Suggested things to do Wildlife and nature

Stunning landscape of a warrior’s hideaway

During my holiday in Scotland I went to Boat of Garten in the Cairngorms National Park. I decided to do a walking holiday and tour the countryside which inspired Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander saga.  My guide was from Scot Mountain Holidays. I told him of my keen interest in the Jacobite rebellion and what happened to the Highlanders who fought for Bonny Prince Charlie after the Battle of Culloden.

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John Roy Stuart memorial

Retracing Jacobite steps

Being a connoisseur of the area he took me on a historic day trek through an 18th century village where I saw layouts of old black houses and kilns while tracing beaten carriage tracks. I was shown various medicinal, poisonous, and culinary plants relevant to the people of the time and Outlander’s heroine who delves into Scottish botany.

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Scots pine

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Wood Cranesbill

We spotted a tawny owl who flew by not ten feet in front of us. I tasted a juniper berry with the the richness of gin. I sniffed the vibrant yellow broom wafting of coconut, and took in the spicy scent of bog myrtle used at the time to flavour beers.

We saw two majestic golden eagles floating in circles together on a high wind!

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Spot the golden eagles!

But the most exciting part of our adventure was John Roy Stuart’s cave, a Jacobite rebel and close ally of the Bonny Prince. Andy described his rise as Jacobite leader to eventual fall as a “rebel”. We crouched inside the cave in which he hid from the Red Coats for years after his exile, and discussed what life would have been like at the time.

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Broom – coconut scented, you have to smell it to believe it!

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Globeflower

If ever there was a moment I felt close to James Fraser, this was it!

Stuart even had a young boy who ran him supplies (wee Fergus?) and narrowly escaped death many times. Standing in this place brought a sense of the real history, drama, intrigue and very thorough research by Gabaldon to ground her story in places and situations that happened to real people. I was given the gift of seeing first hand the evidence of their lives.

Delving further into Jacobite history

My hosts took me to the Culloden Battlefield and Visitors Centre. We saw a panoramic video re-enactment of the battle which is very impactful, and got an in depth immersion into the history told by eye witnesses and historical accounts. Plaques made reference to John Roy Stewart’s contribution.

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Place where “John Roy Stuart’s 200” were stationed in line with the Jacobites before commencing battle at Culloden 16 April 1746

We also saw commemorations to the various clans which had lost members during the battle, including the Frasers.

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Clan Fraser memorial, Battle of Culloden 1746

An unbeatable guide

Being able to learn more about Jacobites and the history which informed the Outlander series was truly fascinating. I look forward to seeing more of Scotland’s history through walking its landscapes, and there’s no better guides and base for it than in the Cairngorms with the warm and knowledgeable hosts at Froach Lodge.

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Ryvoan, the other end of John Stuart’s ridge

Check out Scot Mountain Holiday’s Outlandish Scotland: Off-the-beaten-track and Outlander events summer 2016 for more details!

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