Celebrating Robert Burns and his visit to Loch Ness

Kingsmills Hotel

We Scots like to celebrate and, now the Hogmanay and New Year festivities are over, we are at it again. This time we’re organising a catalogue of events in the memory of our national bard Robert Burns – better known as Rabbie.

When did you ever hear of Shakespeare called Oor Wullie? The fondness and endearment for Rabbie Burns is held the world over. His memory lives on strongly, although he died 220 years ago.

Burns was born the 25th January, 1759, and his birthday is celebrated from Beijing to Boston and from Durban to Dubai.

It is usually celebrated with a supper that consists of haggis with potatoes and turnip (known in old Scots as tatties and neeps). We start with Cock-a-Leekie soup (which is chicken and leek) and usually finish with sherry trifle or Cranachan (a traditional Scottish dessert of oats, cream, whisky and raspberries).

The haggis is usually carried in with a piper playing and one of Burns poems, “To a Haggis”, is recited. Other poems are read out, songs are sung and speeches are made. Then, towards the end of the supper, The Immortal Memory is delivered by an eminent member of the company. It makes for a great evening, whether or not you are Scottish.

Robert Burns

Rabbie Burns is known to have visited here. In September, 1787, he arrived on the southern shore of Loch Ness, at the Falls of Foyers, and was so taken with them he wrote a poem on the spot.

Listen to the story and the poem being recited.

Among the heathy hills and ragged woods

The roaring Fyers pours his mossy floods;

Till full he dashes on the rocky mounds,

Where, thro’ a shapeless breach, his stream resounds.

As high in air the bursting torrents flow,

As deep recoiling surges foam below,

Prone down the rock the whitening sheet descends,

And viewles Echo’s ear, astonished, rends.

Dim-seen, through rising mists and ceaseless show’rs,

The hoary cavern, wide surrounding lours:

Still thro’ the gap the struggling river toils,

And still, below, the horrid cauldron boils

On this trip, Burns stayed at what is now the Kingsmills Hotel, in Inverness, with a colleague William Dunbar. According to a letter he wrote to his host, Provost Inglis, he dined very well, just as you can still do today.

In fact, you could combine a cruise on Loch Ness with a Burns Supper here in the Highlands of Scotland.

Or, if you can’t make it on January 25th, why not host your own event? Just purchase a haggis, some potatoes and a good swede turnip, along with a fine bottle of single malt whisky and a sherry trifle. Print off some poems of Burns, invite friends around, download some Burns songs and you can have your own Burns Supper.