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 Campbell Clan has long been one of the most numerous and powerful
clans, gaining allegiances from many smaller clans over the centuries by
both diplomatic and other means. Their success is owed to the remarkable
succession of clan chiefs referred to as MacCailein Mor in Gaelic.
The early Campbell homelands cover the area to the north and west of Glasgow, from Argyll northwards into the Grampian mountains and on into Perthshire. The itinerary takes you around the beautiful and rugged northern area of Scotland where the Campbells have left their marks, and mentions only a few of the many Campbell castles and strongholds.
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.
Head west passed Greenock to Gourock and take the ferry to Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula. Here in Argyll, the land is trapped between Loch Fyne on the west and Loch Long on the east. Following Robert the Bruce's victory at Bannockburn the Clan Lamont Castle at Dunoon was made a royal castle and the Campbell family became the castle keepers. Dunoon Castle had a grizzly past and little remains of the building. Castle House Museum, built in 1820 using the old stone from the original castle tells the story of its past. Holy Loch nearby was home to American nuclear submarines and their mother ships during the Cold War. Head north and travel along the coast of Loch Eck to Strachur, one of the Campbells' acquisitions dating from the late 13th century. Continue north then south around Loch Fyne to sample the hospitality of Inveraray overnight.
The town of Inveraray is one of Scotland's earliest and best preserved planned towns. There is a maritime museum and the award-winning Inveraray Jail , Scotland's living 19th century prison where you can experience life in a cell. Nearby is Inveraray Castle, the permanent base for the now world-wide association of Clan Campbell. It is also the family home of the 13th Duke of Argyll, the 27th chief of the clan. Here you can not only discover much about the Clan Campbell, you can also enjoy 16 acres of formal gardens, park and woodland walks.
Travel north to Loch Awe ("ambush" in Gaelic), where the chiefly line of the Campbells emerged in the 14th century. Their power and wealth increased as a result of supporting the monarchy against the local rebels. Then turn west to the coast to follow the road north to Glencoe ("narrow glen"). The majestic 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. Great value Discovery Tickets give you free admission to National Trust for Scotland attractions for 3, 7 or 14 days. Glencoe's scenery features in a number of Hollywood movies, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban being the most recent. Continue north through Fort William and on to Inverness, spending some time to take in the scenery as you pass by Loch Ness. Look out for the fabled monster! Spend an evening enjoying the restaurants and nightlife of Inverness, or relax by an open fire with a dram.
Now in Inverness, you can experience the beautiful, bustling capital of the Highlands. 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 supported by the Campbells. Further east is the fairy-tale Cawdor Castle. Linked with Macbeth by Shakespeare the castle is owned by the Campbell Earls of Cawdor whose maternal ancestors were the medieval Thanes of Cawdor. The castle is encompassed by three gardens a golf course and wood, through which a path leads to the garden at the Cawdor dower house which was inspired by Tibet's Tsangpo Gorges.
Leaving Inverness, your road south leads to 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. Further south you enter the Perthshire lands of Black Duncan's grandson Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy who in 1681 was created the first Earl of Breadalbane. Taymouth Castle, at the NE end of Loch Tay, to the west of Pitlochry is an early Victorian gothic pile with remarkable interiors, unfortunately not open to the public, however there is the Taymouth Castle golf course and the Loch Tay Boating Centre for a day of fresh air, exercise and breathtaking views. Travel on to Stirling to stay overnight and if time allows visit the impressive Stirling Castle, it was a favoured royal retreat for the Stuart dynasty and the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots. To the east of Stirling lies Clackmannan, which was the chief lowland stronghold of the Campbell clan. Originally called Castle Gloom, Castle Campbell is an awe-inspiring site.
Before returning to Glasgow, spend a couple of days in Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital. The Campbell chiefs combined their role of clan chiefs with taking a leading part in the affairs of Scotland, Great Britain and the Empire over the centuries. Many Campbell clansmen have served the Crown and there have been 16 regiments associated with the Campbells. 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. Here, you'll find the history of Scotland from early geological times through to the present day. If time allows, 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.
A leisurely return to Glasgow with perhaps a last chance to explore the modern side of this dynamic city.
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