Archives for : June2017

Trip Diary – April/May 2017 – Days 47 & 48– Blair Castle, Atholl Highlanders, Clan Gathering

Blair Castle, at the heart of Blair Atholl, is the historical seat of Clan Murray. The Atholl Highlanders, a private army created with the blessings of Queen Victoria, guard the castle and stand ready for orders from the 12th Duke of Atholl, who lives in South Africa. The castle itself is run by a national foundation, but the Highlanders have exclusive access to the ballroom below.

Michael Murray, Marquis of Tullibardine, and his younger brother, Lord David Murray, are sons of the Duke. Michael is in line to inherit the title of 13th Duke of Atholl. Both officers in the Highlanders, they were officiating over the annual Parade the Saturday before the Clan Gathering.

The Clan Gathering on Sunday was interesting for several reasons. We were looking forward to a Highland Games in Scotland so we could compare with games we’ve been to in Colorado. The usual food, jewelry, clothing, and amusement booths were in abundance, but there was much more of an emphasis on the Shot Put, Caber Toss, Hammer Throw, and bagpipes than we have seen. Once the games had concluded, Michael Murray kicked off the festivities, and the field opened up to family events and sports. Sporting events at games in the States are usually off to the side somewhere, and are not usually headline events.

We first saw fidget spinners in London, but many of the shops couldn’t get enough to keep them on the shelves. We didn’t know they had appeared in the States until we got home.



Trip Diary – April/May 2017 – Day 46 – Murray Tour

After traveling south from Inverness to Blair Atholl and the center of Scotland, we spent the afternoon visiting sights of interest to the Murray Clan, both Abercairny and Tullibardine. In the first photo below, Daniel Parker, President of UK Clan Murray and a cousin through his wife, Anna Murray, showed us around “The Stables,” a wedding venue they started a few years ago. The structure was actually the horse stables of the Estate of Abercairny a few miles down the road where Anna’s father lives. It was moved up the road stone by stone during the 1700’s, and is filled with original paintings of Murray ancestors.

Traditions and memories are the hallmark of the UK. Near The Stables is a small plot of land where the dogs of the family since the mid-1800’s are buried. There are also several gardens available for weddings, including this formal garden with 17th Century furnishings.

Tullibardine Chapel was our next visit, with its original wood ceiling beams and glass windows. The Murrays of Abercairny married the Drummonds of Strathearn, ending up with over 13,000 acres of land altogether. The Murrays of Tullibardine left the area and moved south toward Perth, eventually ending up with enormous holdings in their own right.

If the chapel looks familiar for some reason, it was featured in the last few episodes of season two of the hit television show, Outlanders. This was the church the group hid in while trying to evade the British soldiers.



Trip Diary – April/May 2017 – Day 45 – Loch Ness & Inverness

Inverness is the gateway to the west of Scotland and the isles (Skye and the Hebrides), and also the north of Scotland and the isles (Orkneys and Shetlands). Loch Ness and its famous, although questionable, inhabitant, “Nessie”, is BIG business in Inverness. An exhibition center and mandatory gift shop tell the story of Nessie, but also introduce visitors to the real science taking place in the lake over the decades. A major study of Zooplankton and other minute sea creatures has prompted sonar studies of the lake itself, eventually mapping the entire lake to its full 700+ foot depth. Loch Ness was also the site of an ill-fated land speed record attempt, one of the few recreational uses ever made on the lake.


The only way to truly “see” Loch Ness is by ferry. Loch Ness is actually one of three lochs and a canal leading north to Inverness. A lighthouse that doesn’t look much like a lighthouse makes the end of the canal where the loch begins. The ruins of Urquhart Castle lies on the west shore of the loch at its midpoint.

You can’t go on the lake without wondering whether you’ll see Nessie or not. One possible solution to hundreds of sightings over the years is shown in the photo below. When two boats, in this case large ferries, cross paths on the loch, the wakes eventually intersect and form loops that could be mistaken for “humps” of a creature under the right conditions. On this day, however, Nessie was nowhere to be found.