The Bonnie Prince Charlie Ride
4 days riding, 2 days sightseeing, 6 nights accommodation
Riding Difficulty: Intermediate
Approximate Distance Covered: 60 miles
Please note, this route requires that all riders must be able to ride at walk, trot and canter. Terrain can sometimes be boggy or steep and guests may have to lead their own horse periodically. Riders are encourage to help out with the morning routine of catching, feeding, grooming and saddling the horses for the day.
On the Bonnie Prince Charlie ride we ride through the countryside and visit places associated with the '45 rebellion when the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart famously returned to Scotland to reclaim the throne that was rightly his.
The Prince and his loyal Jacobite army of Highland clansmen marched South into England and came close to regaining the throne with famous victories at Prestonpans and Falkirk, taking Edinburgh and Carlisle and marching south as far a Derby. But fortunes changed as the expected support from English Jacobites was not forthcoming and funds began to run low, so the Prince pulled back into Scotland awaiting promised funds from France and Spain which never arrived.
The final and most famous battle of all took place on Culloden Moor near Inverness, where the Princes army of near starving Highlanders met the Duke of Cumberlands men in a battle that saw both the Jacobite army and the Princes dreams of regaining his fathers' throne destroyed. The battle took less than an hour and it's aftermath changed the Highlands of Scotland and it's peoples' way of life forever.
The Prince fled from the battlefield and spent five months as a fugitive, running through the heather and hiding out in caves, sometimes being offered shelter by loyal Jacobites. He covered a huge amount of ground, never staying anywhere long and travelled as far as the Western Isles, where he was famously aided by Flora Macdonald, posing as her maid for his journey 'over the sea to Skye'. From Skye he returned to the mainland hiding out again in the hills, until he finally set sail for France, never to set foot on Scottish soil again.
Wherever possible, we try to faithfully follow the routes that the Prince took, however, this is a riding holiday and much of his flight through the heather was on foot as the ground was deemed unsuitable for horses, so we have chosen the best routes that can be ridden - if we cannot ride the exact route, we ride as close to it as possible!
We collect our guests in Fort William around lunchtime, then take you to Glenfinnan, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standart on the 19th August 1745. We visit the monument and visitor centre, then head to our hotel for the night - the Princes House Hotel, which was an Inn at the time of the uprising.
Fassfern to Gairlochy
First day riding. We are transported to the start of the ride at Fassfern, where BPC famously plucked a white rose from the gardens , putting it on his bonnet - the white cockade, the symbol of the '45 uprising. We ride along an old pony path, winding through the glen, following faithfully the route that BPC and the clans took to bypass Fort William.
Gairlochy to Glen Spean
We ride past Highbridge, where the first action of the uprising occurred. We carry on through Spean Bridge to ride on old trails and forestry tracks, taking us to Luiblea which is the entrance to the wild land where the Prince hid in Clunys Cage on Ben Alder.
Glen Spean to Laggan
We ride today through Ardvirikie Estate, famous nowadays as the setting for the Monarch of the Glen TV series. Passing stunning Ardvirikie House overlooking Loch Laggan, we ride to the head of the Loch, site of the largest freshwater beach in Britain, then follow another old drovers route to leave the horses for the night at Garva Bridge, on General Wades road.
Laggan to Fort Augustus
Today we head over the stunning 770m (2526 ft) Corrieyairack Pass. This high, lonely stone track was one of General Wades military roads and was famously taken by the Prince and his men on their march South, when his hopes of victory were still high. The views are stunning!
We leave the horses behind for a day of sightseeing, we drive through Stratherrick, where Prince Charlie fled from Culloden, passing Gorthleck house, where he took shelter then drive on to Inverness to visit Culloden Moor, where we join a tour of the battlefield and visit the clan stones. We also visit the fantastic new battle field exhibition, which is full of interesting memorabilia with interactive characters and an immersion theatre where you can experience first hand what it was like to be in the middle of the action at Culloden. Then we also visit the stone circle at Clava Cairns with it's cleft stone.
After our visit to Culloden, we will take you back to Inverness, from where there are good transport links to get you home.