Scottish Clan Tours
Researching your family tree is a voyage of discovery. Full of intrigue, exotic names and fascinating histories. It is a pastime that rewards again and again. But those who simply trace their family tree from the comfort of their own home are missing out on the real story of their heritage.
For the whole exciting picture, you need to visit the places you read about. And that means a trip to Scotland. To help you plan your trip, we've compiled a number of clan-themed touring itineraries . So if you see your clan name, just follow the trail and walk in your ancestors' footsteps.
The Clan Buchanan takes its name from the lands on which the clan settled many
centuries ago. Their stories are of success and disaster and you will discover
some of them on your journey through these lands, from the 'King of Kippen' to
the tutor of Mary Queen of Scots and to the prosperous merchants of Glasgow.
There are many references to the Buchanans in Scotland's landscapes and cities
although there is no longer a clan chief.
The Clan Buchanan history can be traced in the lowlands of south Stirlingshire and in the lands of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. This is an area of magnificent scenery which has inspired both paintings and literature alike. You will travel through the rolling lowlands, forests and woodlands towards the mountains in the north.
Today you arrive in the cosmopolitan city of Glasgow, Scotland's largest urban centre and a popular destination for a short break. Glasgow's fine museums and galleries are complemented by the Mitchell Library, one of the largest public reference libraries in Europe and home of the city archives.
In the time of William and Mary the youngest son of Andrew Buchanan, the Laird of Gartacharan, came to Glasgow to seek his fortune. He became a prosperous Maltster and his four sons all became prosperous Glasgow merchants, holding high office in the city, Andrew Buchanan was the Lord Provost in1745 and refused to assist the forces of the Young Pretender when they arrived in Glasgow. The four sons also founded the Buchanan Society in 1725, one of the oldest charitable institutions in Glasgow. Look out for the Buchanan name in the Glasgow city geography.
Head west, along the north shore of the Firth of Clyde to Dumbarton. The Buchanans have had an influence on this town over the centuries; George Buchanan, for example was sheriff of Dumbartonshire in 1561. Dumbarton is an ancient settlement. Even before the Iron Age the volcanic twin peaks would have had strategic importance, but through its long history it has suffered from Viking raids, the Black Death, not to mention the attentions of English armies.
Dumbarton Castle is built on the steep slopes of Dumbarton Rock, reached by a steep climb up many steps. The castle buildings provide a fascinating experience of garrison life in the 1700s. Continue northwards towards Loch Lomond. Between the 12th and 14th centuries these were the estates of the Earls of Lennox, who granted lands to favoured families. The Buchanans were given the area to the east of the loch and the loch island of Clarinch ("flat island"). The loch itself is the largest expanse of fresh water in Britain, and is renowned for its beauty and tranquillity.
Drive along the eastern shore to Drymen. Drymen originated as the lowest bridging point on Endrick Water and the remains of a medieval motte can be seen near the modern bridge. It is now a busy tourist town; a gateway to the beautiful Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Clachan Inn in the town centre has been serving refreshments to travellers since 1734!
To the west of Drymen lie the nineteenth century hamlets of Milton of Buchanan and Buchanan Smithy. Many of the buildings you see were built to house the Buchanan estate workers. Earlier in its history this was the centre of Clan Buchanan activities. The original Buchanan Castle was situated near to Drymen but passed from the Buchanans in 1682 when it was sold to the Marquis of Montrose to pay off debts. It burnt down in 1850. The remains of Buchanan Castle seen today in the grounds of Buchanan Castle Golf Course were built in 1857 by the Montrose family.
Turn west to travel a short distance to the picture postcard village of Killearn, nestled at the foot of the Campsie Fells. The village is dominated by the 31metres tall Buchanan Monument. This was built in 1789 to celebrate the birthplace of the great Scottish Scholar George Buchanan. He was born here in 1506 and occupied Chairs at several continental universities as well as being Mary Queen of Scots' Latin tutor. Later he was in charge of the education of the young James VI and took a large part in the public affairs of the kingdom.
2 miles south of Killearn is the attractive Glengoyne Distillery which may be of interest. Head northeast past Arnprior to Kippen . It is between these two hamlets that the humorous story of the King of Kippen, who was John Buchanan, Laird of Arnprior, took place. Visit Kippen to find out more. Now you are in the vicinity of the historic city of Stirling so travel there to spend the night in the wonderfully preserved old town.
To the southwest of the city is the site of the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) and take this opportunity to visit the impressive Stirling Castle, a favoured royal retreat for the Stuart dynasty and the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots. On the castle esplanade is a monument to the 75th Stirlingshire Regiment; Sir George Buchanan, the twenty-first Chief commanded the Stirlingshire Regiment during the Civil Wars of Charles I.
A few miles northwest of Stirling is the busy tourist town of Callander. Leave the main street to explore the older parts of the town. To the east of Callander, near the farm of Dalvey is the ruined fortalice of Auchleshie which was a Buchanan stronghold. Travel to the west to Loch Lubnaig. Leny Falls sits at the southern end of the loch and nearby is the site of the mansion house of the Buchanans of Leny. Little Leny burial ground in Callander is where the Buchanans of Leny House are buried.
In a picturesque location at the northern end of the loch is Strathyre, the birthplace of the Gaelic religious poet Dugald Buchanan. The Leny Buchanans had a very turbulent history, some of which can be read on tombstones in Balquhidder kirkyard, north-west of Strathyre. Before returning to Glasgow, spend a couple of days in Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital.
Here in Edinburgh, you'll be spoilt for things to do and places to visit. A good starting point is the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street. During your visit you'll be able to explore the history of Scotland from early geological times through to the present day. Call in at the nearby Scottish Genealogy Society library in Victoria Terrace where you'll find plenty of fellow travellers and enthusiastic researchers, as well as a wealth of genealogical information and guidance. No appointment is necessary but there is a small charge for non-members.
Before leaving Scotland, and Edinburgh, behind you might like to relax and enjoy one of the excellent bus tours of the city, visit the imposing Edinburgh Castle, explore the famous Royal Mile in the old Town or take a stroll through the elegant New Town.
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