Scotland Jacobite Rising

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We’ll o’er the water, we’ll o’er the sea, We’ll o’er the water to Charlie; Come weal, come woe, we’ll gather and go, And live and die wi’ Charlie.

– James Hogg, Scottish poet, novelist and essayist

The Jacobite Rising of 1745: Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Battlefields of the Highlands

Scotland’s Northern Highlands are a place of mysterious beauty, where Scottish descendants will find a welcoming homeland, and where all travelers will find a unique and inspirational history. As you’ll learn from our tour, the Highlands have not always been so inviting. In the wake of its defeat by the British army in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, Northern Scotland was left with its lands ravaged and its population either annihilated or exiled.

The seeds of the Rebellion (also known as The ‘45) were sown in 1603, with England’s first Stuart king, James I, at the time King James VI of Scotland. In 1688 his Catholic grandson, King James III, was deposed and fled to France. Nevertheless, the Stuarts held the throne until 1714, when the House of Hanover assumed the crown.

By 1745, Prince Charles Edward—Bonnie Prince Charlie—was the third generation of Stuarts in exile. Counting on help from France and from Stuart loyalists—the Jacobites—Charles entered Scotland in July of 1745, with the aim of winning back the crown for his father.

Jacobites earned surprising victories at Falkirk and Prestonpans, and, though seriously outnumbered, held off the British at Fort William and other sites. Their luck ran out at Culloden, where they were slaughtered in a savage fight.

We’ll see the battlefields, castles, forts and fields where the Jacobites fought well and made their last stand. Our tour will also include some of the film locations for The Outlander cable series—sites where Claire travels back in time to rejoin Jamie during the period of Scottish history covered by our tour.

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Glenfinnan: We’ll visit the site where Prince Charles raised the House of Stuart standard on his arrival in Scotland in September 1745. This was also the site from which he fled back to France after the Jacobites’ defeat at Culloden.

The Jacobite Express: This old-school steam train, famous as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express, will take us from Fort William to Glenfinnan. This trip is considered one of the world’s most breathtaking railway journeys. We’ll cross the Glenfinnan viaduct, steam past Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, and see some of the Highland’s most stunning landscapes.

Glencoe: This is the site where, February 13, 1689, the MacDonalds of Glencoe were slaughtered in a subversive action engineered by the government to look like a conflict between Highland clans. This massacre, which left the dead lying in their beds and fleeing in blizzard snow, was a defining event in Scottish history, damaging the historic relationship of trust between clans.

The College of Piping: Since 1944, the College of Piping has preserved the treasured heritage of the Great Highland Bagpipe. Students here learn to master the instrument whose expressive and distinctive music, identifiable all over the world, defines an important part of Scotland’s identity. On our first night we’ll enjoy a group dinner and a piping performance here.

Highland Folk Life Museum: Here is where we’ll get a taste of authentic 18th Century Highland life, walking through a meticulously recreated village and seeing the museum’s collections of artifacts.

Edinburg Castle and Holyroodhouse: Charles spent extended periods here, consulting with his military advisors and enjoying the perks of presiding over the first Stuart court since James II’s exile in 1688.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo: This annual event is a spectacular showcase for military talent, including pipes and drums, Highland dancers and precision marching formations, with a thrilling fireworks finale.

Prestonpans Battlefield: This is the scene of the first great Jacobite victory. By outwitting the British commanders, the rebels gained the element of surprise, then led their attack with a line of fierce Highlanders wielding broadswords.

Dalwhinnie Distillery: At an altitude of 1,070 ft. above sea level, Dalwhinnie is the highest distillery in Scotland, giving it access to the clear, cold water from melting mountain snow. Dalwhinnie has been making whisky here since 1897, but the distillery was completely renovated in the 1990s. We’ll be among the 25,000 visitors who make the trip each year for a tour and a tasting.

Culloden: In April 1746, the Jacobites faced government forces on the open field and in the muck of Drummossie Muir at Culloden. This savage battle would be the last of the Rebellion and in its aftermath many Highlanders would begin a great migration to North America, leaving the Highlands desolate. We’ll discuss the strategies, accidents and missteps that contributed to this decisive battle.

Day-By-Day Itinerary

DAY 1 To Glasgow

Overnight flight to Glasgow (GLA).

DAY 2 "Why the '45 Still Matters"

There are more Americans of Scottish descent than there are ​S​cots in Scotland.

​In general, the mass migration of Scots​ ​began ​after​ the tragic events of the 1745 uprising, which saw Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the son of James, the Stuart pretender to the throne of England, lead a desperate expedition to defeat the Hanove​rian George II and restore his family to the thrones of both England and Scotland.

Ever since the “’45” reached its bloody climax on Culloden moor,​ the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army of H​ighland warriors risking all for a throne has captivated thousands. Famed author Sir Walter Scott set many of his tales of the highlands amidst the characters of the Jacobite uprising and, most recently, the hugely successful television drama Outlander, ​recalls those dramatic times.

Our tour in the footsteps of the "Bonnie Prince," will begin in Glasgow, where we will enjoy an opening reception and dinner at the world renown National Piping Center, where we will have a chance to view their unrivaled bagpipe collection before a private dinner and performance and dinner by one of the centers best pipers. 

DAY 3 “I am Come Home”

When he first landed in Scotland Prince Charles commanded an “army” of just 8 men. When told by the Scottish chiefs who greeted him to go home, Charles, who had never set foot in Scotland, said, “I am come home.” He then set out on an odyssey that would see him within a few days march of London and his goal-the return of the crown of Scotland, England and Ireland to the house of Stuart. After breakfast we will travel north from Glasgow through the Trossachs National Park and by Ben Nevis before stopping at Glencoe and the site of the infamous 1692 massacre of the MacDonald’s of Glencoe.

After our visit we will proceed to the Prince’s Cairn and the site of Charles landing on the Scottish mainland and his departure nine months later. Our last stop of the day will be at the imposing Glenn Finnan monument where Charles raised his banner on August 19, 1745.

DAY 4 “The March South”

After assembling his small army at Glenn Finnan Prince Charles set off into the heart of Scotland with lightning speed. Ironically it was the roads built by British General Wade in the years after the 1715 rebellion that allowed the highland army to accomplish this incredible task. We will leave Fort William to explore some of the dramatic landscape crossed by the Prince and his men as well as learning something of the life of the ordinary highlander of the 18th century.

Our first stop will be at Spean Bridge, where the first fight of the uprising came to an end. While at Spean Bridge we will visit the impressive Commando Memorial, which is dedicated to all of the Allied Special Forces who trained in this rugged landscape during World War II. From Spean Bridge we will move to the renown Highland Folk Life Museum, as seen in the television series Outlander.

After our visit to the museum and lunch we will travel to Ruthven Barracks. As Charles​'​ Army marched south, a mere dozen brave British soldiers held the important barracks against the highland army. After the battle of Culloden, it was to Ruthven that Charles​'​ battered survivors attempted to rally. Travelling on from Ruthven Barracks we will stop at the historic Pass of Killiekrankie and the site of the dramatic "soldier's leap." A central artery of travel in Scotland, in July 1689 the pass of Killiekrankie was the scene of one of the Jacobite’s greatest victories and the source of the highlanders'​ fearsome reputation in battle.

Our day will finish up at the imposing Blaire Athol Castle, the home of the Dukes of Athol. The castle featured prominently in all of the Jacobite uprisings, but never more so than when Jacobite General Lord George Murray besieged his family home in 1746.

DAY 5 Heart of Scotland

From Pitlochry we will travel to Perth, the first large town in Scotland where Prince Charles proclaimed his father James III, king of the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. After a short stop at the Mercat Cross we will go to Balhousie Castle, which is the home of the famous Black Watch, the oldest highland regiment in the British Army. We will have a private tour of the state of the art new museum and exhibits about the highlanders who stayed loyal to the crown.

From Perth we will head for Doune Castle, which has played a central role in many of Scotland’s most dramatic episode. During the Jacobite uprising it was used by the Jacobites to hold British prisoners taken after the Battle of Falkirk, one of whom, made a dramatic escape and after the uprising emigrated to America, where he became the first President of Princeton University and later a signatory to the Declaration of Inde​pende​nce. Guests may recognize Doune Castle as the site of many of the scene’s of Monty Python’s Holy Grail and from the popular television show Outlander.

From Doune we will travel to Stirling, one of the most beautiful cities in Scotland and the location of some of the most dramatic events in Scottish history. Our visit will begin at the famous monument to William Wallace, with its breathtaking views of the surrounding area, including the famous 1297 Battle of Stirling Bridge. From the monument we will travel into town to see the scene of Wallace’s most important victory.

DAY 6 Wallace and the Bruce-Sterling Castle and Bannockburn

We will spend the morning at Stirling Castle, one of the most historic sites in Scotland. In addition to discussing the central role the castle played in the 1745 uprising, we will also have an opportunity to learn about the castle’s long and storied history. Home of Scottish kings and queens for centuries, the castle is one of the finest examples of R​enaissance architecture in Scotland and has undergone a major restoration that has restored the royal apartments and Chapel Royal to their original splendor.

After visiting the castle we will make a quick journey to the Bannockburn Battlefield where we will learn about Robert the Bruce’s incredible 1314 victory over the English at the new visitor’s center. After learning more about the battles that secured Scottish Independence we will head toward Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland. Along the way we will visit Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.  We will arrive at our hotel in Edinburgh that evening.

DAY 7 From Castle to Cathedral (Edinburgh Day 1)

Our visit to Scotland’s capital city will begin along The Royal Mile, which stretches from Edinburgh Castle to the Royal Palace at Holyrood. It was from this stretch of road that a medieval village grew to become the capital city of a great nation. Given its location, the Royal Mile has been at the very center of Scotland’s long and storied history.

We will begin our study of the mile at Edinburgh Castle. Unquestionably​ one of the most iconic monuments in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle has been fortified since the Bronze Age. Since construction began, the castle has played a part in each of Scotland’s many wars. Among the sites which we will visit at the castle are the crown jewels, otherwise known as the “Honors of Scotland,” which includes the famous Stone of Scone; the Great Hall, which was the meeting place of Scotland’s parliament until 1639, St. Margaret’s Chapel, which dates from the 12th Century and is the oldest building within the castle’s walls, the Palace where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI and the National War Museum of Scotland, which traces the history of Scotland’s armed forces from the middle ages to the present day. 

From the castle we will follow the Royal Mile down as far as the famous St. Giles Cathedral. Officially known at the High Kirk, it was from here that John Knox directed the Scottish Reformation. In the Kirk we will see the spot where Jenny Geddes, a humble market woman, hurled a stool at a high church preacher as he read from an English prayer book and sparked the Covenanting movement as well as the Thistle Chapel, home of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle with its famous bagpiping cherubs. Just outside the chapel we will see Parliament House. Built in 1679, the building served as the home of the Scottish Parliament until the, “Parcel of Rogues,” voted itself out of existence and merged with the British Parliament in Westminster in 1707, an event which had major implications for the Jacobite movement.

This evening we will have a group dinner at the castle before taking our exclusive seats at the world renown Edinburgh Tattoo.

DAY 8 Kings and Queens, Castles and Palaces (Edinburgh Day 2)

Our first stop will be at the Palace of Holyrood, the official Scottish residence of HM Queen Elizabeth. The palace was built on the site of an abbey by James IV in 1498 and from the time that the first stone was laid it has been at the center of the most important events in Scottish history. We will see the throne and dining rooms that are still used today by the Royal Famile as well as the James V Tower where, on a dark night in 1566, Mary Queen of Scots was holding court when a gang of plotters burst into her quarters and murdered her trusted Italian secretary, David Rizzio, in cold blood. We will also the historic state apartments where, in 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie held court after his victory at Prestonpans before embarking on his desperate invasion of England.

Other stops planned for our second day in Edinburgh will be Greyfriers Church where the National Covenant was signed; the National Museum of Scotland with its renown collection of Jacobite artifacts; the historic "New Town," which is rightly considered a gem of 18th Century architecture and the new Scottish Parliament building. 

DAY 9 Claymore!

Leaving Edinburgh we will head to the little village of Tranent, following the path of the Prince’s army as it headed out from Edinburgh to do battle with the British forces under the command of General Sir John Cope.

It would be the first major clash of the uprising. Using a combination of stealth and fury, on the September 17, 1745, 2,300 highlanders charged out of the mist against the 2,500 men of Cope’s army. Terrified by the clansman crashing down upon them, Cope’s army disintegrated in minutes and the Jacobites had secured their first victory crucial victory. In the aftermath of the battle, thousands of Scots enlisted in the Prince’s army and a heretofore reluctant French king decided to more formally back the Jacobite cause. What had begun as a forlorn hope launched in the wilds of Scotland had, overnight, become a very real threat to the security of the Hanove​rian Regime in London.

Heartened by their success, the Jacobite high command made the audacious decision to invade England and march on London. Moving with lightning speed, the Jacobite Army seized Manchester on November 29 and by the first week in December were in Derby, just days away from London. On the cusp of victory, the Jacobite high command fell out amongst themselves and the decision was made to return to Scotland where, it was hoped, the army would be greeted with large numbers of new recruits and regular soldiers sent from France. For more than a month the Jacobite Army alluded their pursuers until, on January 17, 1746 they turned to meet their opponent at Falkirk. In what was to be the largest battle of the whole uprising-more than 7,000 men per side-Prince Charle’s forces, led by Lt. Gen. Murray beat a British force under General Henry Hawley. Fought in driving sleet and rain, Murray’s men hurled back the British and demonstrated that they were every bit as professional a force as their opponents.

After spending time to study the battle, we will depart for Dalwhinnie, where we will stop for a “wee dram” at the Whiskey Distillery. Guests will have an insider’s tour of the distillery to see how Scotland’s amber liquid is made followed by a tasting of whiskeys from around Scotland.

DAY 10 Culloden and the Death of the Highland Army

We will be staying at historic Culloden House, which before the rising was the home of Duncan Forbes of Culloden, a British agent who worked diligently to accustom the Scots to the House of Hanover.

After the start of the uprising Forbes fled and in April 1746 it was taken over by Charles Edward Stuart and his highland army to await a final, climactic showdown with the advancing British forces under the Duke of Cumberland, King George II’s favorite son. On the morning of April 16, 1746, both armies were assembled on a bleak moor outside Inverness. After enduring a punishing bombardment from the English lines, to the skirl of bagpipes more than 5,000 highlanders charged down upon their opponents with sword, shield, claymore and dirk as they had done for centuries. They crashed into the lines of a well-drilled army armed with modern weapons. For a few desperate moments the fate of Scotland was in the balance as the foes battered one another in a brutal hand-to-hand struggle. Eventually, however, the Prince’s Army began to give way and soon routed from the field. It was the last highland charge. We will study this historic battlefield-the last battle fought on British soil-as well as spend time in the brand new visitor center to discuss the end of the Jacobite Cause.

Following lunch at the visitor center we will travel to Fort George, one of the most well preserved 18th Century fortifications in Europe-to discuss the fate of the highlands in the wake of the last Jacobite uprising.

DAY 11 Loch Ness and the Great Glenn

Having seen off the prince and studied the last great highland charge, we will leisurely make our way to Glasgow. In the morning we will enjoy a boat ride down the scenic Loch Ness. The beautiful loch, the second largest in Scotland, sits 52 feet abo​ve​ sea level and its waters sink to depths of more than 700 feet. It contains more fresh water than all of the lakes of England and Wales combined and, by legend, is the home of "Nessie," the famous Loch Ness monster. Our boat trip will conclude at Urquart Castle, one of the most picturesque ruins in Scotland and a stronghold of Clan Grant until the end of the 17th century, when it was destroyed by highlanders loyal to the House of Orange to prevent its capture by local Jacobite clans.

Our trip will conclude in Glasgow, the city that grew to wealth as Scottish merchants made the most of the wealth to be found in the American colonies and from where tens of thousands of Scots began their voyage to the new world. 

DAY 12 Flight Home

Morning transfer to Glasgow Airport (GLA)


Tour Dates

  • August 2025
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TRIP COST $6,490

Price is per person based on double occupancy. For a single room add $1,800.

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