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 history of Clan Cameron is rooted in the Lochaber area in the Western
Highlands. Here is the home of Britain’s highest mountain and deepest
loch; the spectacular scenery is wild and rugged and can be serene and
peaceful, remote from the cities and urban life.
Over many centuries the Camerons have defended their lands and their loyalties with tremendous courage. The best known were perhaps the fearless Sir Ewan Cameron and his grandson the ‘gentle Lochiel’, an enlightened chief who tried to improve conditions for his clansmen. This itinerary will take you to the lands once home to your courageous ancestors, and help you explore their stories.
Arrive in Edinburgh, where 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. Here, you'll find the history of Scotland from early geological times through to the present day. You should make time, too, to call in at the nearby Scottish Genealogy Society, 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.
Head north to the historic city of Stirling. To the southwest of the city is the site of the Battle of Bannockburn. Here in 1314 the men of Clan Cameron fought with Robert the Bruce against the armies of King Edward II of England. Whilst in Stirling, visit the impressive Stirling Castle, a favoured royal retreat for the Stuart dynasty and the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots. Then take the road to Fort William, passing through Glen Coe (narrow glen in Gaelic). Glen Coe’s mountain scenery is as famous as the events which took place there in 1692. A stunning new Visitor Centre can be found at nearby Inverigan where the whole bloody story unfolds in a memorable audio-visual experience. Glencoe’s scenery features in a number of Hollywood movies, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban being the most recent. After a busy day of travelling and sightseeing, relax in Fort William, the largest town in the West Highlands and nestling next to Loch Linnhe at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain.
Inverlochy Castle is a mile north of Fort William and was built in the 1200’s by Comyn of Badenoch. In the fifteenth century the Camerons deserted Alexander, the Lord of the Isles, to join King James I’s royal banner. At the Battle of Inverlochy, 1431, the Camerons were defeated and had to flee to the mountains to avoid the revenge of the Lord of the Isles. From here travel to the west to Glenfinnan on the north shore of Loch Sheil. This is a famous place in Scotland’s history: against the advice of many, including the Cameron Chief, Locheil, Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard here in 1745. Despite his concerns, Locheil committed himself and 850 doomed clansmen to the Jacobite cause. The Glenfinnan Monument was built in memory of the clansmen who fought for the Prince. Double back, unless you want to travel to the coast for a view of the Western Isles, and if time allows leave your car at Benavie and walk along the canal, passing Neptune’s Staircase, a series of eight locks built in 1822. At Torcastle Farm you will find the ruins of Tor Castle. It was occupied by Camerons from 1528 to 1650 and was much fought over between the Camerons and the Macintoshes. Now travel a few miles north to Achnacarry, passing through Gairlochy which is the site of the Battle of Killicrankie where the heroic and chivalrous chief Sir Ewan Cameron was victorious against General Mackay in 1689. Achnacarry Castle (not open to the public) is the home of Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel, XXVI Chief of Clan Cameron and Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle. The nearby Clan Cameron Museum traces the history of the clan since the fourteenth century. It also has exhibits from the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders Regiment, originally raised by Cameron of Erracht in 1793, and tells the story of the time the castle was used as a commando training centre. At nearby Spean Bridge stands an impressive sculpture, a memorial to their courage, dedication and sacrifice.
If you follow the north shore of Loch Arkaig you will travel along the Mile Dorch (Dark Mile) as the road is in a deeply wooded valley with thick mossy walls on either side. At the end of the road is a car park and access to the spectacular water-falls of Eas Chia-aig. The loch is the fabled hiding place of French gold which was on its way to the Jacobites in 1746, but neither the Jacobites nor anyone since has been able to find the treasure! Heading back to Spean Bridge, further east is Roy Bridge. Here there is a monument to the battle of Mulroy and on the hill opposite is the place where MacDonnells of Keppoch defeated the Macintoshes in the last inter-clan battle fought in Scotland in 1688. Two miles from Roy Bridge is Cille Choirill Church. The first building on this hallowed ground was built in the fifteenth century by Ewan Macallan, one of the great Cameron chiefs. He went on a pilgrimage to Rome after the untimely death of his son, Donald. The Pope ordained that he should build six chapels to expiate his sins; this is the site of one of them. Now continue along the A86 towards Inverness. You will pass through the villages of Kingussie and Newtonmore. Here you'll find two fascinating Folk Museums where more than 400 years of Highland life are brought to life in exhibitions which track the everyday experiences of clansman and crofter. Continue on to Inverness.
You may want to relax and enjoy the Highland hospitality of Inverness after a busy few days, and there’s plenty to see. A fine introduction to the area can be found at Inverness Museum. Then, for a truly atmospheric experience, make the short journey to the battleground of Culloden where, in April 1746, 'Bonnie' Prince Charlie's Jacobite rebellion was crushed by Government forces. The character of Sir Ewan Cameron was upheld by his grandson, the "gentle Lochiel", who fought gallantly at the battle and gained the esteem and admiration of many, but hundreds of Cameron clansmen perished in the battle. Lochiel's estates were forfeited as part of the suppression of the insurrection, but later were restored under the general act of amnesty in 1796.
Time now to return southwards. Turn off the A9 at Carrbridge and take the road encircling the Cairngorms National Park to Braemar. This is an attractive village which enjoyed the royal patronage of Queen Victoria. It also boasts the record for the lowest recorded temperature in Britain of -27.2 degrees on 10th January 1982. Half a mile to the east is Braemar Castle, a fairytale castle inside star-shaped walls. This was used as a garrison for Government forces during the Jacobite uprising. The Castle now has many period furnished rooms and museum exhibitions and is well worth exploring. If your schedule allows, a trip on the Cairngorm funicular is well worth taking. Located near Aviemore, this is the highest and fastest mountain railway in the country and a special way to enjoy spectacular views. Head southwest to rejoin the main route south at Perth.
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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THE STATUE OF ROBERT THE BRUCE AT THE BANNOCKBURN HERITAGE CENTRE, STIRLINGSHIRE.Click on image to zoom