Clan Macfarlane itinerary

Clan Macfarlane has a long and proud history focuses around Loch Lomond & The Trossachs. This 5-day itinerary stretches from Arrochar to Fort Augustus and follows the beautiful lands where the clansmen left their mark. They were descended from the Celtic Earl of Lennox Alwyn, whose son was presented with lands on the shores of Loch Long. 

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  • Dumbarton Castle and Dumbarton Rock, Firth of Clyde
    Dumbarton Castle and Dumbarton Rock, Firth of Clyde
  • Buachaille Etive Mor with Allt Nan Gubhas in the foreground, Glen Coe
    Buachaille Etive Mor, Glen Coe
  • Loch Long and Arrochar
    Loch Long and Arrochar
  • A view from within the walls of Stirling Castle, palace of Mary Queen of Scots, Stirling
    Stirling Castle

Start your information search in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, and head for the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street which has an excellent display of Scottish history dating from early geological times. The museum houses the Society of Antiquaries and the clan’s 20th Chief Walter Macfarlane, a noted antiquary and scholar from Arrochar who spent much of his life in Edinburgh in the 18th century, enjoyed links with this organisation.

The nearby Scottish Genealogical Society library in Victoria Terrace is an excellent resource of genealogical information and guidance, where you’ll find fellow travellers and researchers. Appointments are not required, but a small fee is charged for non-members.

While in the capital, you should also make time to enjoy a bus tour of the Edinburgh’s historic sites and visit the city’s castle, where you can soak up the excellent views across Edinburgh and across to Fife. You can then walk down the famous Royal Mile from the castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse where you can uncover more links to the Macfarlane clan.

During the 15th century, following the death of the last Celtic Earl of Lennox, the Macfarlanes fatally opposed the Stuart’s claim to the Earldom. Despite many family members perishing, Andrew Macfarlane saved the clan by supporting the Stuarts and marrying the daughter of John Stuart, Lord Darnley, Earl of Lennox. This created a new alliance between the two families.

John Stuart’s son Henry (Lord Darnley) was the second husband of Mary Queen of Scots. In the Palace of Holyroodhouse visitors can see where Lord Darnley married Queen Mary in a private chapel on 29 July 1565. Born a year later, their son James became King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England.

Head east of Edinburgh to the town of Musselburgh on the banks of the River Esk which was the site of the Battle of Pinkie fought in 1547. Duncan, the 13th Chief and his brother, fought with the Scots against the English but were both fatally wounded in battle.

Head west to Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, which was the site of the 1568 Battle of Langside. The battle took place near what is now the Hampden Park football stadium and was significant in the Macfarlane history as the clan withdrew its support for Queen Mary following the murder of Lord Darnley and instead fought for the Scottish confederacy against her army.

From Glasgow, travel north west to the ancient town of Dumbarton and visit Dumbarton Castle which is built on sheer rocky slopes. The castle was captured by the Earl of Lennox in 1514 in the wake of the Battle of Flodden, where the 11th Macfarlane chief and many clansmen were killed.

Travel north to Loch Lomond around which much of the land between the 12th and 14th centuries was owned by Earl of Lennox. You can still see faint traces of one of the earliest Lennox castles amongst the rhododendrons and azaleas in the country park at Balloch at the southern end of the loch.

The loch itself is the largest expanse of fresh water in Britain, renowned for its beauty and tranquility and includes the picturesque village of Luss.

Originally it was called Clachan Dubh, (dark village) as it sits in the shadow of the mountain Beinn Eich. In the 19th century church you will find a magnificent Scots pine rafted roof and stained glass windows. This is also the location of the Macfarlane Stone, a memorial to the clan chiefs dating from 1612. It is on the north wall and is inscribed "After death remains virtue".

Continue north to the attractive village of Tarbet a popular tourist destination and once a favourite of Queen Victoria. Walter Macfarlane of Tarbet with 400 of his men fought on behalf of the Chief with the Earl of Lennox and Henry VIII's English army in the battles of the 1540s.

West of the village, at the head of Loch Long is Arrochar, the ancestral lands of the Macfarlane clan. Walter, who was a renowned antiquarian, built Arrochar House in 1697 but these clan lands were sold after Walter's death in 1767. A hotel now occupies the site of the original house.

Continue along the shore of Loch Lomond to Inveruglas. The Macfarlanes were a restless clan and some were outlaws, stealing cattle under the "Macfarlane lantern" as the moon was referred to on these night raids. They built a stronghold on Eilean I Vow, an island in the loch, which was destroyed by Cromwell's troops in the 17th century. Loch Sloy to the north west of Inveruglas was the place the clansmen gathered to plan their raids. In the late 1500s laws were passed making the clan Chiefs responsible for the peaceful conduct of their followers.

However this did little to control their lawlessness and in 1624 many clan members were tried and convicted of theft, and some were banished north to Strathaven in Banffshire.

Now head north to Fort William and travel through the National Scenic Area of Glen Coe and Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain. The majestic scenery is as famous as the events which took place at Glencoe in 1692 and the landscape has provided the backdrop for several Hollywood movies.

A stunning new visitor centre can be found at Inverigan where the whole bloody story of Glencoe’s history unfolds in a memorable audio-visual experience. You can relax in Fort William, the largest town in the West Highlands on the banks of Loch Linnhe at the foot of Ben Nevis.

On the final day of tracing the Macfarlane connections in Scotland, travel one mile north of Fort William to the imposing Inverlochy Castle. In 1645 the Macfarlanes fought here for the victorious Montrose against the Campbells and the Duke of Argyll. They had marched through the night from Kilcumin (now Fort Augustus which is at the southern end of Loch Ness), through Glen Roy and took the enemy by surprise.

Continue your journey and head south to the historic city of Stirling and visit the impressive Stirling Castle which towers above the river and medieval bridge.

Then journey a mile or so southwest of the city to visit the site of the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Robert the Bruce declared himself King of Scotland in 1306 and began a long and arduous campaign to secure his title, finally achieving success at this battle. The Macfarlanes' ancestor Malduin, Gilchrist's grandson, sheltered Robert the Bruce when he had to flee to the west Highlands. Later the Macfarlanes fought with him here at Bannockburn.