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.
In the 14th century Clan Chattan became a powerful Highland confederation of 17
tribes with blood bonds and alliances to the Chattan name. Prior to that time
the Chattan clansmen were the descendants of followers of St Catan who lived on
the Island of Bute. They spread north and east from Bute, living in the
Highlands of Scotland, from Glenloy in the west to Glenshee in the east and
from Inverness in the north to Laggan at the southern end of Strathspey and
Badenoch. They had a turbulent history, being often perceived with trepidation
by both the Lords of the Isles and the Scottish Kings.
This itinerary takes you to the "Jewel in the Clyde", the Island of Bute and through the Highlands of Scotland to visit the lands of your ancestors. It will highlight just a few of the stories and places where the Chattan captains and their followers have left their mark. You can experience the peace and tranquillity of inspiring Scottish landscapes, the evocative splendour of ancient castles, the hospitality of the local people and much more.
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.
(Optional) Clan Chattan is said to have originated from the descendants of Gillichattan Mor, the servant of St Catan who lived on the Island of Bute in the 6th century. Take the scenic route to the island to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and see what life is like in a Scottish island community. Head north-west from Glasgow, travel along the shores of Loch Lomond and through the Arrochar Alps in the heart of Argyll. This is some of the most stunning scenery in Scotland. Reach the top of Loch Fyne, with views across to Inveraray Castle, you head south along the A815 and A886 and arrive at the Colintraive ferry for the short crossing to Rhubodach on the Island of Bute. Once on the island there are numerous visitor attractions including the Rothesay Castle, Mount Stuart - a gothic edifice with fine gardens - and Bute Museum where you can find information on the island's geology, archaeology, local and natural history and archives. At the southern tip of the island are Kilchattan and the medieval church of St Blane. Here was an earlier Christian site dating from the time of St Catan, when he established Christianity on the island.
Retrace your steps back to the shores of Loch Lomond then head north to Crianlarich, then north through the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area. The majestic mountain scenery is as famous as the events which took place at Glencoe in 1692. A stunning new Visitor Centre can be found at 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. Relax in Fort William, the largest town in the West Highlands. It nestles next to Loch Linnhe at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain. Or take a walk to Tor Castle. By the 12th century the descendants of Gillichattan Mor were living in the Glen Loy and Loch Arkaig area, to the north of Fort William. The clan chief's seat was at Torcastle. A mile or so north of Fort William 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. In 1291 the direct Chattan family line ended and the female heir, Eva, daughter of Dougall Dall of Clan Chattan in Lochaber, (the area around Fort William), married Angus Mackintosh, 6th Laird of Mackintosh. He became the captain of Clan Chattan and lived in Tor Castle. There was much feuding between the Mackintoshes and the Clan Cameron and the castle was occupied by Camerons from 1528 to 1650.
Now travel a few miles north to Achnacarry, passing through Gairlochy which is the site of the Battle of Killicrankie, 1689. 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! Travel east along the A86; you will pass along the shores of Loch Laggan and on to the village of Laggan itself. Clan Chattan occupied the lands from Laggan to Inverness - these were the ancient lands of Badenoch, Strathspey, Strathearn and Strathnairn. During the Scottish wars of independence the Captain of Clan Chattan supported the victorious Robert the Bruce, and as a reward was granted lands in Badenoch which had been forfeited by the Comyns, Bruce's enemies. The hit BBC drama series "Monarch of the Glen" is set in the Scottish Highlands in fictitious Glenbogle but it is actually filmed in Laggan and the surrounding area. If time allows explore the peaceful countryside to see a variety of wildlife including possibly, Golden Eagle, Osprey, Red Deer and Pine Martin.
Now continue along the A86 towards Inverness. Just south of Newtonmore is the site of the battle of Invernahavon where in 1387 the MacKintoshes fell out with the Macphersons. Camerons living on lands in Lochaber belonging to the Chattans had refused to pay the rent and Mackintosh-Chattan men had taken their cattle in lieu of the debt without their agreement. Some 400 Camerons gathered to take revenge and the Captain of Clan Chattan, the Mackintosh chief, called upon Davidsons and Macphersons to support him in the battle. The Davidsons were given the honour of fighting at the right hand side of the Mackintoshes and as a result the Macphersons stormed off the battlefield before the fight had even begun. The Camerons now outnumbered the Davidsons and Mackintoshes and killed many of them. The next day the Macphersons were shamed into rejoining the battle and had no trouble in defeating the exhausted Camerons. The Mackintosh and Macphersons joined forces therafter, forgetting their differences, for the good of the Clan Chattan confederation. At Newtonmore and in Kingussie you'll find two fascinating Folk Museums where more than 400 years of Highland history are brought to life in exhibitions which track the everyday experiences of clansman and crofter. South-east of Aviemore is the Rothiemurchus Estate, the lands extend round Loch Eilean, where a ruined castle stands on an island. This is another place to enjoy the beautiful scenery, this time of the Cairngorms, and the natural history of Scotland. It was to here that Angus Mackintosh withdrew from Torcastle when driven out by the hatred of Angus Og of Islay in the 13th century. Continue on to Inverness.
You may want to relax and enjoy the Highland hospitality of Inverness after a busy few days, and there is 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. Clan Chattan and the Mackintoshes suffered heavy losses at the battle in support of the "young pretender".
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. The castle is owned by the Farquharson family who were part of the Clan Chattan confederation. The lands of Glenshee are found south of Braemar extending south to Blairgowrie. On your way back to Glasgow you will pass through Perth. Just north of here is the site of the famous battle of North Inch. In 1396 King Robert III tried to resolve the feuds between the Camerons and the Clan Chattan Mackintoshes. An arena was built and each clan chose 30 of their best warriors to take part in a battle. The fight was so horrifically bloody only one of the combatants survived, and the feuds continued worse than before! If you have time before leaving Scotland, visit the elegant capital city of Edinburgh. On your way to Edinburgh from Perth you will pass to the east of Falkirk. When Prince Charlie returned in 1745, the chief of the Mackintoshes was an officer to George II and in command of a company of the Black Watch. Although he did not rally to the Prince's call of arms, his wife raised the confederation in his absence. She selected MacGillivray of Dunmaglas as the commander and Clan Chattan fought and won under him in the Jacobite victory of Falkirk in 1746.
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. 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. You might like to relax and enjoy one of the excellent bus tours of the city and visit the imposing Edinburgh Castle or explore the famous Royal Mile in the old Town or take a stroll through the elegant New Town.
Travel back to Glasgow where you can enjoy more of the city's many
attractions before leaving for home. *
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