Clan Menzies itinerary

The ancestral lands of Clan Menzies focus around the southern Highlands and stretch from Glen Orchy in the west to Atholl in the east, in the foothills of the Grampian mountains. The clan’s anscestors played an important role in Scotland’s early history, and Sir Robert de Meyneries and his heirs gained royal patronage during the 13th century.

Follow this six-day itinerary which charts the areas where the chiefs of Clan Menzies and their followers left their mark.

  • The woodlands of the Blair Atholl estate
    The woodlands of the Blair Atholl estate
  • Looking out across the Falls of Dochart, Killin
    The Falls of Dochart, Killin
  • Glencoe and North Lorn Folk Museum
    Glencoe and North Lorn Folk Museum
  • The Palace of Holyroodhouse with Arthur's Seat in the background
    The Palace of Holyroodhouse

The National Museum of Scotland in the magnificent historic capital of Edinburgh is the ideal starting point on your journey of discovery of the story of Clan Menzies. Situated in the city’s Chambers Street, it features an excellent display charting the history of Scotland from early geological times right through to the present day.

Take the short walk to the Scottish Genealogical Society library in Victoria Terrace where you’ll find an outstanding genealogical resource. Appointments are not required, but there is a small charge for non-members.

No visit to Edinburgh is complete without exploring the Royal Mile. Walk up to Edinburgh Castle and enjoy the commanding views of the city’s Old and New Towns. Then wander down the historic Royal Mile and soak up the atmosphere before reaching the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the bottom.

From Edinburgh, head north to Stirling and visit the iconic Stirling Castle, which was known as a favourite retreat of the Stewart monarchs and the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots.

A short distance from the city is the Battle of Bannockburn site where Robert the Bruce declared himself King of Scots in 1306. The grandson of Sir Robert de Meyneris was companion-in-arms of Bruce and was subsequently granted land at Aberfeldy and Weem for his service to the King. A new interactive centre to commemorate the Battle of Bannockburn will open during the summer of 2014.

Leave Stirling and head north-west to Lochearnhead before turning west along the River Dochart. These lands, and those of Glen Orchy to the west and Glen Lyon to the east are the ancient Clan Menzies land.

Enjoy the spectacular drive through Rannoch Moor and onto the majestic Glen Coe, which means narrow glen. This stunning mountain scenery has been immortalised on the big screen numerous times and is almost as well-known as the 1692 massacre. Stop by the visitor centre at nearby Inverigan where you can learn about the full events which led up to the bloody battle.

From Glen Coe head back through Glen Dochart and continue east to Killin on the edge of Loch Tay. Although the Menzies Clan settle elsewhere in Scotland, the Tay valley was its main power base.

Learn more about Scotland’s clans in general at the Breadalbane Folklore Centre in the heart of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. You can enjoy spectacular views over the picturesque Falls of Dochart waterfall.

The Menzies were granted significant areas of land across Scotland, such as the area around Finlarig which was granted by Robert the Bruce. The ruinous remains of the castle, built by Black Duncan Campbell can be seen here, completed with what is thought to be a beheading pit.

Continue along the shore of Loch Tay and take a detour into the remote Glen Lyon to Fortingall, which includes a steep single track road. Glen Lyon and area around Atholl, were lands granted to Sir Robert de Meyneris by King Alexander II. Sir Robert rose to the position of Lord High Chamberlain of Scotland.

For an alternative route along Loch Tay, turn off at Fearnan to reach Fortingall which sits in open land at the eastern edge of Glen Lyon. Look out for the traditional thatched cottages and a 5,000-year-old yew tree.

The Menzies were also involved in a number of land feuds across the area, with Sir Robert Menzies being imprisoned in a dungeon in order to persuade him to sign over his lands. However, King James IV rescued Sir Robert and he kept his charter for the Rannoch lands.

Close by is the impressive noble house of Castle Menzies, which was the seat of clan chiefs for 400 years. Bonnie Prince Charlie was said to have rested here en route to Culloden in 1746.  It is now home to a museum and clan centre where you can find detailed information about the story of Clan Menzies.

The nearby towns of Weem and Aberfeldy were both granted to the Menzies during the 13th century and the Menzies mausoleum can be found at the Old Kirk of Weem.

Slightly further north in Blair Atholl lies the seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl, Blair Castle. It is set amid the stunning backdrop of Highland Perthshire it is open to the public and features extensive collections of everything from armour to paintings and furniture, as well as beautiful grounds. The Menzies enjoyed connections to the Earls of Atholl through the granting of land here during the 13th century.

In 1737 Menzies of Culdares (near Fortingall) introduced the larch tree into Scotland. Plants were given to the Duke of Atholl at the time and now the larch can be seen growing on the Blair estate and all over Scotland.

If time allows, travel the 40 miles north to the village of Newtonmore, where the Highland Folk Museum brings 400 years of Highland living to life and depicts the everyday experiences of clansmen and crofters.

On your way back south to Edinburgh, you’ll pass through the bustling town of Pitlochry and  further south, Dunkeld. There have been religious settlements in Dunkeld since 730AD and now the narrow winding streets lead to the magnificent cathedral. Two of the larch saplings given to the Duke of Atholl in 1737 were planted beside the cathedral and are still growing there today.