Thursday, 08 June 2023
Folklore and history hidden among the trees
Right on the edge of Inverness, this popular forest is a great place to walk, run or ride. It's also full of history: the trees cover part of the site of the battle of Culloden, and the Prisoners' Stone is a grim reminder of that fateful day.
The Battle of Culloden, between government troops and the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie, was the last battle fought on British soil. You can find out more about its causes, what happened on the day and its lasting effects on Scottish history at the National Trust for Scotland’s Culloden Battlefield.
St Mary's Well has a Christian name, but it's a reminder of pagan traditions. It's still used as a place to make a wish and leave a scrap of cloth as a healing charm.
Culloden Wood route card (PDF)
Culloden Wood Trail
Discover the forest's battlefield landmarks and pagan traditions at the infamous Prisoner’s Stone and St Mary’s Well, a local ‘clootie well’.
Mostly wide, uneven gravel and earth surface. Some steep slopes. Parts may be muddy after rain.
Allow 1½ hours
Look out for the scraps of cloth (cloots) in the trees around St Mary's Well. There are wells like this all over Britain, where people leave a token and hope to have a wish come true. You can find another at Munlochy Clootie Well.
Facilities and access
You'll find places to eat in Smithton village, just next to the forest, or Inverness. The nearest public toilets are in Inverness.
Car parking information
There is no charge to park in this car park. Please park with care and consideration. In particular please park in designated parking areas only and do not block entrances or gates.
From Inverness, take the A96 towards Aberdeen and after about 1 mile (1.6 km) take the 2nd roundabout exit towards Balloch, Culloden and Smithton. At the second set of traffic lights turn right towards Culloden Moor and Croy. The car park is on your left after ¼ mile (400 metres).
IV2 7PW is the nearest postcode.
Buses run from Inverness to Smithton, next to the forest. Check Traveline Scotland for details.
Get in touch
Have a question or suggestion for improvement?
An accessible woodland with panoramic views
Walk through history and visit the home of a Pictish king
Drink in the view, listen to the birdsong, explore the past