Clan Buchanan itinerary

Follow this itinerary to discover your connections with Clan Buchanan, which takes its name from the lands on which it 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.

  • Looking down Buchanan Street in the city centre of Glasgow
    Buchanan Street Glasgow
  • Dumbarton Castle and Dumbarton Rock, Firth of Clyde
    Dumbarton Castle and Dumbarton Rock, Firth of Clyde
  • An aerial view looking south over Loch Lomond
    An aerial view looking south over Loch Lomond
  • An illuminated Stirling Castle at dusk viewed from the battlements
    Stirling Castle viewed from the battlements

Trace the history of Clan Buchanan 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.

Start off your discovery of Clan Buchanan in the cosmopolitan city of Glasgow. In the time of William and Mary, the youngest son of Andrew Buchanan, the Laird of Gartacharan, came to Glasgow to seek his fortune and became a prosperous maltster. His four sons all became Glasgow merchants, holding high office in the city and founding the Buchanan Society in 1725, one of the oldest charitable institutions in Glasgow.

Head west, along the north shore of the Firth of Clyde to Dumbarton, where the Buchanans have been an influential presence for centuries. George Buchanan, for example was sheriff of Dunbartonshire in 1561. Dumbarton is an ancient settlement, and even before the Iron Age the volcanic twin peaks would have had strategic importance. However, through its long history it has suffered from Viking raids, the Black Death and the attentions of English armies. Dumbarton Castle is built on the steep slopes of Dumbarton Rock and provides a fascinating experience of garrison life in the 1700s.

Continue northwards towards Loch Lomond, where the estates of the Earls of Lennox were located between the 12th and 14th centuries. The Earls of Lennox granted lands to favoured families, including the Buchanans who were given the area to the east of the loch and the loch island of Clarinch. 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, which originated as the lowest bridging point on the Endrick Water. It is now a busy tourist town and 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 19th century hamlets of Milton of Buchanan and Buchanan Smithy, and 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 31 m tall Buchanan Monument, 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 became heavily involved in the running of the public affairs of the kingdom.

Head 2 miles south of Killearn and you'll come to the attractive Glengoyne Distillery, then travel north east 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 historic Stirling, so why not spend the night in this wonderful city?

Spend the day exploring Stirling, or head south west of the city to the site of the Battle of Bannockburn. The impressive Stirling Castle was 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, commanded by Sir George Buchanan, the 21st Chief during the Civil Wars of Charles I.

A few miles north west of Stirling is the busy town of Callander, where you can 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, where the Falls of Leny sits at the southern end of the loch. Nearby is the site of the mansion house of the Buchanans of Leny, and the 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.