Clan Farquhar itinerary

Farquhar was the fourth son of Alexander Shaw of Rothiemurchus and his grandson, Finla Mor, is said to be the progenitor of the clan. He had nine sons who each founded a different branch of the clan throughout Aberdeenshire and was eventually killed at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547.

This itinerary takes you from the capital, Edinburgh through the Highlands of Scotland to visit the lands of the ‘fighting Farquharsons’.

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  • Culloden Battlefield at dusk, near Inverness
    Culloden Battlefield, near Inverness
  • Old woman in historic dress cooks at an open hearth in the centre of a reconstruction of an old croft house
    The Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore
  • Stirling
    Stirling
  • Lunch at the Kitchen, Inverness
    Lunch at the Kitchen, Inverness
  • The Animal World Gallery at the National Museum of Scotland
    The National Museum of Scotland

Starting from Edinburgh, Scotland’s magnificent historic capital, you’ll be spoilt for things to see and do.

A good starting point is the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street. Here you'll find the history of Scotland from early geological times through to the present day. At the nearby Scottish Genealogical Society library in Victoria Terrace you'll find plenty of fellow travellers and enthusiastic researchers, as well as a wealth of genealogical information and guidance.

To the east of Edinburgh is the town of Musselburgh, built on the banks of the River Esk. The disastrous Battle of Pinkie was fought nearby in 1547. Led by the Earl of Arran, it is thought that nearly half the Scottish army was either killed or taken prisoner by the English. The battle was disastrous both because of the lives lost and the further distancing of Queen Mary from Prince Edward, driving Mary towards the French Dauphin.

A few miles to the west of Edinburgh you will pass Falkirk, where Clan Chattan fought and won in the Jacobite victory in 1746. The previous year, Prince Charlie had returned to Scotland and the chief of the Mackintoshes and commander of the Black Watch did not rally to the Prince’s call to arms, unlike his wife, Anne Farquharson of Invercauld who raised the confederation in his absence. For this deed, Anne was known as Colonel Anne and later saved the Prince from capture when resident at Moy (near Inverness) and was imprisoned for several weeks after the Battle of Culloden.

Continue to Stirling, a historic city with an attractive mix of old and new. The impressive Stirling Castle towers above the river and medieval bridge and offers incredible views across the city.

You may wish to visit the very poignant site of the Battle of Bannockburn which took place in 1314. Robert the Bruce had declared himself King of Scotland in 1306 and began a long and arduous campaign to secure his title, finally achieving success at this battle.

Travel north towards the Highlands on the A9, passing by Perth, Dunkeld, Pitlochry, Killiecrankie (the site of the first battle in the Jacobite uprising) and Blair Atholl. At Newtonmore you’ll find the fascinating Highland Folk Museum, where more than 400 years of Highland history is 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 an Eilean, where a ruined castle stands on an island - this is where the ancestors of the Farquharson clan originated. After admiring the scenery, travel to Inverness, the capital of the Highlands. You may want to relax and enjoy the Highland hospitality after a busy few days, and there is plenty to see and do here. A fine introduction to the area can be found at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.

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 Farquharsons suffered heavy losses at the battle in support of the ‘young pretender’.

Now retrace the journey south down the A9 but turn east at Carrbridge and take the road encircling the Cairngorms National Park towards Ballater. Farquhar's son Donald married Isobel Stewart of Invercauld and their son Finla Mor inherited the Invercauld Estate. His nine sons founded branches of the Farquharson clan around this area, these include Farquharsons of Achriachan, Whitehouse, Monaltrie, Finzean, Tullochcoy, Inverey, Allanaquoich and Broughdearg.

On the way to Ballater you will pass through Tomintoul, the highest village in the Highlands and also where the Achriachan branch lived. The Tomintoul Museum and Visitor Centre features a crofter's kitchen, village blacksmith's shop and the sounds and smells of rural working life.

Travel to Ballater, a new town built by Francis Farquharson of Monaltrie in the 1790s. In Ballater, you can find Monaltrie House which was built in 1782 and is now a hotel. A few miles to the east is Finzean in the Feugh Valley, nestled in woodlands and heathery hills - this was the home of the Finzean Farquharsons, including Joseph Farquharson, a famous Victorian landscape artist.

To the west of Ballater and near Crathie, was Tullochcoy. Balmoral Castle, the beautiful summer retreat of the Royal Family, is also nearby. Prince Albert purchased the Balmoral Estate for Queen Victoria in 1852. Upon its completion in 1856, the original 15th century castle, probably built by Farquharsons, was demolished.

A mile or so further west is Inver. Here Glen Fearder stretches to the north west and the ‘fighting Farquharsons’ gathered at the foot of the Glen when their chief (or the Clan Chattan chief) needed men to help with a raid or a battle. The Farquharson clansmen would meet together, each bringing with them a stone from the river. These were piled up nearby and collected again only after the raid or battle. In this way they knew how many of them had been lost, and the remaining stones were piled up on a cairn of remembrance, the Cairn-a-Quheen.

Continue west to Braemar, the centre of the Invercauld Estate and the seat of the Farquharson Clan. At the end of the 16th century, the Erskines reasserted their claim to the ancient Earldom of Mar and were opposed by the many Farquharsons in the Braemar area, who had both prominence and power. John Erskine built Braemar Castle to defend his lands but his defence failed and the castle passed into the hands of the Farquharsons.

Braemar is an attractive village which enjoyed the royal patronage of Queen Victoria and hosts the world famous Braemar Highland Gathering. Half a mile to the east is Braemar Castle, a fairytale castle inside star-shaped walls. The castle has many period furnished rooms and museum exhibitions and you can discover how the Farquharsons have managed and improved the estate over the last 300 years.

To the west of Braemar on a side road you will find Inverey and Allanaquoich, two more of the places the nine sons of Finla Mor settled.

John Farquharson of Inverey features in the ballad The Baron o'Brackley. Brackley had impounded some of Inverey's cattle and in revenge, Inverey with his followers, took back his own and Brackley's cattle. Inverey was then an outlaw for a while and went into hiding.

After he joined the Jacobite rebellion at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, he had to go into hiding again following the defeat of the government forces. His castle was burned and he escaped to the ‘Colonel’s cave’ in the glen above the village of Inverey.

Travel south from Braemar, through the Glenshee ski resort area and along the highest main road in the UK which travels through the Munro mountains. The Invercauld Estate stretches south to the Spittal of Glenshee and 2 miles south east of here is the site of Broughdearg Standing Stones, the lands of the Farquharsons of Broughdearg.