Waters of the Scottish Highlands are clear and cold, usually descending from tall highland peaks, settling in the beautiful lochs or flowing into firths lining the shores of Scotland and then into the North Sea or Atlantic Ocean. Waterfalls are plentiful. Scotland is surrounded by water, and seagulls call in the streets of Edinburgh. The birds’ voices follow you throughout the countryside, because no matter where you travel, you are not far from the oceans.
Scottish waterways were the best forms of transportation in the early days, especially through the Highlands. Roads were scarce, so villages and fortifications lined the shores of the coast, firths, rivers, and burns.
Many of the ancient castles were built on the water for protection. There were various well-hidden ways for entering the castle grounds—water gates, caves, etc.
However, the castles were left vulnerable to ships carrying cannon, especially those located near the oceans. Dunnottar Castle, although well fortified and strategically located on a crag in the North Sea, succumbed to the cannon fire of Oliver Cromwell’s ships in 1652. The castle had stood since the 14th century.
The waters of Scotland provide a livelihood for those living on their shores. In earlier times many Scots were fishermen, hemp harvesters, and merchant seamen. Today, the waters still provide a living for large numbers. The drilling for oil in the North Sea brought renewed prosperity to the Highlands.
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The lands of Clan Munro are located on the north shore of Cromarty Firth. In the Highland Treasures series, Fardach Castle, the home of Chief Andrew Dubh Munro is a short distance from the firth and situated on the banks of the Burn of Fardach.
Excerpt from A Highland Pearl
The bubbling burn beckoned, so she quickly made her way to the banks of the swift stream that flowed from Ben Wyvis, through the highlands, and emptied into Cromarty Firth. Maidie clutched the branch of a low hanging tree as she descended the steep bank, then stumbled and fell on the rocky ground. She rose and looked at the burning palms of her hands now bearing scratches and cuts. How careless. She would be unable to hold the reins of her horse, and they had another day’s ride before reaching Castle Lach. Maidie eased through the gorse, along the edge of the burn to the water, trying not to touch the thorns, then knelt beside the swift stream. The cold water helped ease the burning of her hands. How she wished for her plantain salve to soothe the pain. She removed the quilted jacket, splashing water on her face and arms, then shivered.
“Madam, what are you doing here alone?” A gruff voice sounded behind Maidie, making her jump to her feet with water running down her face and neck.
She turned to see Gavin standing close, so she picked up the jacket, put it on over her sark, and buttoned the garment securely. Gavin watched with brows knit tightly, lips pressed in a hard line. He stepped toward her and took her hands, turning them over to examine the cuts.
“Did you follow me here?” She took a deep breath. He stood too close for comfort.
“Aye. I saw you leave the tent.” His blazing eyes pierced hers. “You should ken to no’ leave by yourself. We’re being watched by MacKenzie warriors and wild animals are about.”
Now she thought how foolish she had been. If MacKenzie warriors captured her, there would be no need to exchange Andrew. He would remain a prisoner.
Maidie returned Gavin’s gaze. “I’m verra sorry, Sire. I did no’ think of the danger, only of washing in the burn’s cool water.”
“You winna be able to hold the reins of your mount now, and we have a day’s journey before reaching Castle Lach.” Gavin shook his head, letting her hands fall.
“’Tis a mess I’ve gotten myself into.” She must agree with the tanist.
A slight grin crossed his face as a glint sparkled in his eyes. “Aye, you are in a mess. Seems you must ride with me this day and let Sven ride with Erskin.”
Maidie turned her head away and gazed at the water running so swiftly over the rocks. “Might I ride with Tavish then, and let Sven remain with you? He’ll be greatly disappointed if he canna complete the journey on your mount.”
Gavin took her chin, turning her face to his. “You dinna wish to ride with me?”
“Nae. I canna do so.” His fingers burned a hot brand onto her face.
“Are you afraid of me, Madam?”
She looked into the hazel eyes pooling with emotion. “Aye.”