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Loch Ness with Jacobite

A history of cruising on Loch Ness 

To Loch Ness with Jacobite - Caledonian Canal - The Great Waterway

We now turn to the origins and development of cruising on Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal.

Highland Scotland is riven by an ancient geological fault that was exploited by glaciers during the last ice age to shape a 60-mile coast to coast valley known as Gleann Mòr Albainn or the Great Glen of Scotland.

Much of the Great Glen is filled with natural fresh water in the form of Lochs Lochy, Oich, Ness and Dochfour. Of these, Loch Ness is by far the largest and deepest.

The Great Glen had long been used as a through route for travellers on foot or horseback but in the seventeenth century a remarkable man with the gift of second sight, who came to be known as the Brahan Seer, made an astonishing prediction.

His name was Coinneach Odhar MhicCoinnich (meaning grizzled Kenneth son of Kenneth) and he said: “Strange as it may seem to you this day, the time will come, and it is not far off, when full-rigged ships will be seen sailing eastwards and westwards by the back of Tomnahurich.”

His strange prediction did, of course, come true and today the bridge at the back of Tomnahurich is exactly where the Jacobite Cruises wharf is located.

Final Jacobite rising

Loch Ness and the Great Glen undoubtedly witnessed more than their fair share of historical action from the earliest times but it was the defeat of the Jacobite cause and its aftermath that set in train a series of events that were to affect the Highlands right up to our time.

The Jacobites took their name from the Latin Jacobus meaning James, in reference to King James Stewart VII of Scots and II of England. Although deposed in 1688, he maintained his claim to the throne of the United Kingdom in opposition to the Hanoverian King George I.

The final Jacobite rising of 1745 was led by James’ dashing if incautious son Charles Edward Stuart, or Bonnie Prince Charlie as he is better known. A dynastic civil war ensued, with Scots and English on both sides, but after a series of brilliant initial victories for the Jacobites, aided by Highland clansmen, the cause ended a few miles east of Inverness on the field of Culloden on 16 April 1746, with the defeat of Charles’ misled and starving army.

For the Highlands, Culloden was a disaster. The government of the time sought to break the clan system and everything it represented once and for all and this they did with ruthless brutality.

By the end of the eighteenth century, the post-45 economic climate was such that Highland people were demoralised, many destitute and a pattern of emigration was under way that was to empty hitherto flourishing glens – the notorious Highland Clearances. Crop failures in 1799 and 1800 brought matters to a head.


Loch Ness with Jacobite
A history of cruising on Loch Ness
By Roy Pedersen
“For Robbie”
First published in Scotland in 2007
Second revised edition 2015


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