15-27 July 2009 MacDuff Clan Tour

The Tour visited the Falkirk Wheel, Stirling Castle, Bannockburn, Loch Lomond, Oban, Mull, Iona Abbey, Duart Castle, Glencoe, New Lanark, Alloway, Pollock House, Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Ellisland, Kirkcudbright, John Paul Jones cottage, Sweetheart Abbey, Dumfries, Globe Inn, Caerlaverock Castle, Gretna Green, Abbotsford House, Melrose Abbey, Rosslyn Chapel, Gathering Edinburgh and MacDuff Castle near Leven in Fife, Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Clan MacDuff proudly marching up the Royal Mile to attend the Pageant

Holyrood Palace official home of the Queen in Scotland - where we started the march
Edinburgh castle as night falls


During the Pageant

The story of our Ancestors

This is also the arena for the Annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Our children - the future

Clan MacDuff Tour 2009 and Proposed Tour 2015

Thursday, 6 August 2009

After the tour - A quick look back

Falkirk Wheel, Iona, Glencoe, Robert the Bruce, Burns Memorial
Ellisland, John Paul Jones, Globe Inn, Caerlaverock, Ruthven Cross
I am now recovering from all the fun and excitement on the Clan MacDuff tour. The weather was mixed as it often is in Scotland, but on the most important days the sun shone - at Iona and the Gathering and March up the Royal Mile. At other times, we spent less time outside than we might have done when the rain came on. Overall the weather does not seem to have spoilt our trip and holiday. Our coach driver drove us safely and expertly on some very narrow single track roads on the Isle of Mull and our coach was very comfortable. This is important when we spent 11 days travelling on it. We had drinking water on the coach and at most hotels and restaurants throughout the tour. Have just realised that Europeans do not drink as much water as Americans! We had some very special times together throughout our trip. I particularly loved our trip to Iona and the se King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822. Our visit to Gretna Green was a good shopping experience for many and chance for Bob & Maria to renew their vows in a ceremony over the anvil as runaways have done down the centuries! Our informal Burn's night in the Globe Inn in Dumfries was a highlight for everyone on the tour even if everyone was not too keen on the haggis! The accordian player at the Globe was fantastic and I would have loved to listen to him for longer. The Gathering and the Pageant, I have covered in a separate blog post. Our trip out to MacDuff castle is always good - just sad to see that all the bushes are growing up around it. Someone suggested that we should see if we can get some steps put in to enable visitors to easily get into the castle. The Serrvice in St Michaels Chapel, which is the oldest building still in use today, along with the dedication of Larry MacDuff's bench. I got a very strong impression that everyone enjoyed Steve's whisky nosing and tasting at New Lanark, even although he is English! Next trip we must make sure to include at least one Whisky distillery tour. The Falkirk Wheel is a modern engineering feat which we enjoyed in glorious sunshine. There is so much history packed into Stirling Castle and Bannockburn that it made us all realise that Scottish history is long and complicated. Without William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Bannockburn, there would have been no Declaration of Arbroath and no independent Scotland from the 14th to 17th Century. Without this independence, not given up in battle, but by joining the Crowns of Scotland with England in 1603 when James VI of Scotland became James I of England on the death of Queen Elizabeth, there would be no Scottish identity as we know it today. As we moved forward in time to the life and death of Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Owen, we learn of the start of the Industrial Revolution, free education for Scottish people and the birth of Scottish tourism in the form of Sir Walter Scott's arrangements for the visit by King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822. Our vist to Gretna Green was a good shopping experience for many and a chance for Bob and Maria to renew their wedding vows in a cermeony over the anvil as runaways have been doing down the centuries! Our informal Burns' night in the Globe Inn in Dumfries was a highlight for everyone, even if everyone was not too keen on the haggis! The accordion player at the Globe was fantastic and I would have loved to listen to him for longer. The Gathering and the Pageant, have been covered in a separate blog post. Our trip out to MacDuff castle is always good - just sad to see that all the bushes are growing up around it. Someone suggest that we should see if we can get some steps put in to enable visitors to easily get into the castle, but knowing health and safety, we would probably be told that the building is not safe!

The MacDuff Clan tour members with Sir Lachlan Maclean, Chief of Clan Maclean
At MacDuff Castle after the AGM

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Gathering 2009

The sun shone which was an important fact in making the Saturday of the Gathering such an outstanding day for the Clan MacDuff tour group. Our treasurer, Davey Cottrell had the opportunity to meet Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay and many in my group were delighted to see both the Duke and the Duchess walking around the Clan Tent area at the Gathering. We all enjoyed Prince Charles speech at the Opening Ceremony, as for us in summarised much of our travel around Scotland in the preceding 10 days visiting Burns country at Mauchline, Alloway and Dumfries to honour the 250th anniversary of his birth and our visit to Abbotsford to learn about the writing skills of Sir Walter Scott and of his start of the tourist industry and the re launch of tartan. The march up the Royal Mile was a specially significant event with people who were lining the street constantly calling out " Lead on MacDuff" or just well done MacDuff. We thoroughly enjoyed the pageant which again summarised much of our tour which had also visited Bannockburn and talked about the William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. We loved the idea of looking back down and seeing life through the eyes of our ancestors as so many of us were in Scotland doing exactly that. Scotland on Sunday had nice photos and an article about the event.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Clan Tour at Beardmore Hotel Glasgow

It is warm and sunny today although Lynda and I drove through some thunder showers to get to Glasgow. My navigator did a great job and got me here first time. We have a room overlooking the Clyde at Clydebank and we can hear the birds along the water as well as aircraft flying into Glasgow airport. All 38 members of the tour were here for the slideshow which you can view at the link above which takes you to my picasa web album. Many are on their first trip to Scotland and excited by it. I am looking forward to our trip on the Falkirk Wheel and visit to Stirling Castle.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Clan MacDuff Tour Itinerary

Itinerary Clan MacDuff Tour 15-27 July 2009

15 July Arrival at the Beardmore Hotel and Conference Centre in Clydebank. A Meet & Greet is arranged for 6 p.m. in the auditorium close to the reception desk followed by Dinner at 7 p.m.

16 July The start of the tour – the coach departing at 8.30 a.m. Visits today include the Falkirk Wheel and Stirling Castle. The Falkirk wheel connects the Forth & Clyde and Union canals and enables boats to travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow or vice versa. The Wheel was built as a result of receiving Millennium Funding and showcases engineering of the 21st Century. Later in the tour we will be investigating engineering from the time of the industrial revolution in the 19th Century. Lunch today is in Stirling at the River House before we spend the afternoon at Stirling Castle. Stirling Castles location rivals even Edinburgh Castle for sheer magnificence as it sits on its high volcanic rock, visible for many miles in every direction. The site is important as Stirling guards the crossing point of the River Forth and would have been of strategic interest to anyone wanting to control central Scotland. The castle provided a home for Scottish Kings and Queens from the days of Alexander I until the Union of the Scottish and English Crowns under James VI. The Great Hall was built between 1501 and 1504 by James IV. Scotland's National Hero, William Wallace was born in 1270. In 1297 he led an uprising against the English which spread throughout south and central Scotland. Teaming with Sir Andrew de Moray and his men, the Scottish forces soundly defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Following this victory Wallace was knighted and became Guardian of the Realm before being given to the English and being hung, drawn and quartered in London. Stirling is also where probably the most well known battle in Scottish history took place, the battle of Bannockburn. We will visit the site and learn about Robert the Bruce later in the tour. Return to Clydebank and overnight at the Beardmore Hotel.

17 July Travel north and west today with a short visit to Luss on the banks of Loch Lomond. From there we travel to Inveraray to visit the Duke of Argyll’s home followed by a visit to the Cruachan underground Power Station and a 2 night stay on the Island of Mull. Loch Lomond is one of the most beautiful areas of natural beauty in Scotland and became our first National Park in 2002. Loch Lomond and the Trossach National Park have an area of 750 square miles. Inveraray was built in 1744 on it idyllic setting on Loch Tyne when the Duke of Argyll decided to build his principal seat on the site of the original town! The 300 year old courthouse and 19th century jail are much visited and were visited on a previous clan tour. The castle was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh who was the architect of famous English palaces: Castle Howard in Yorkshire and Blenheim Palace. The castle was the first of its type in a remote part of Scotland. Work on the castle was completed by the Adam family who became very famous architects in Scotland. William Adam was responsible for the design of Duff House in Banffshire. Inveraray was home to the author Neil Munro who created the Para Handy books. There was a remake of the series on the TV in the early 1990s with Gregor Fisher. The puffer boat used in the series is in the harbour. We will drive North West through the hills for lunch at Loch Awe Hotel stopping to admire Kilchurn castle on the way. In the afternoon we will visit the Cruachan underground power station. Situated on the side of Loch Awe, the power station is in a cavern under Ben Cruachan. This is the first high head reversible pumped storage hydro scheme. The visitor centre houses the free exhibition area and is the starting point for our guided tour. The power station lies one kilometre below ground in a massive cavern, high enough to house the Tower of London. Here turbines convert the power of water into electricity, available at the flick of a switch. This is an underground world on a spectacular scale. Around 3 p.m. we will arrive in Oban, the "Gateway to the Isles" and join the ferry trip to Craignure on the Isle of Mull. The ferry trip takes 45 minutes and goes through some enchanting mountain scenery with views to Mull, Island of Lismore and back to the mainland. We will stay at the Isle of Mull hotel close to the ferry for the next 2 nights. Weather permitting we have great views to Duart Castle, home of Sir Lachlan McLean from the hotel. A special treat tonight, we are going to be entertained by an accordionist and a fiddler after supper.

18 July This is our day to explore 2 islands, Mull and Iona. We will visit the enchanted religious island of Iona and Duart castle home of the Clan McLean. Mull is a wild and beautiful island with over 300 miles of dramatic scenic coastline and stunning beaches which rise to the peak of Mulls' highest mountain Ben More at 3000 feet. Mull is a nature lover's dream with wildlife galore to marvel at on and around the island. It is possible to see otters, sea eagles, whales and seals. Iona is often referred to as the 'Cradle of Christianity' in Scotland; as, in 563 AD, this was the first place in Scotland that St Columba landed after being banished from Ireland. To this day, Iona Abbey retains its spiritual atmosphere and remains one of Scotland’s most sacred and historic sites. Attractions include the Abbey itself, St Columba's writing cell and a superb collection of over 180 medieval carved stones and crosses. The Iona community continues the tradition of daily worship and visitors are welcome to attend the daily services. We will have lunch at the Martyr’s restaurant on Iona with views across the sound to Mull. After lunch we will re-cross the island to visit Duart Castle. Standing proudly on a cliff top guarding the Sound of Mull, Duart castle enjoys one of the most spectacular and unique positions on the West Coast of Scotland. For over 400 years this has been the base of the Clan Maclean's sea-borne power. Duart was originally a rectangular wall enclosing a courtyard. In 1350 Lachlan Lubanach, the 5th Chief, married Mary Macdonald, the daughter of the Lord of the Isles and she was given Duart as her dowry. Lachlan Lubanach built the keep (tower house) on the outside of the original curtain wall but forming an integral part with it, and enclosed the well. Later in the mid 17th century small vaulted cellars with a hall at first floor level and perhaps a small chamber above, were built within the courtyard on the South East side. At the same time the defence to the gateway entrance to the courtyard was strengthened by a two story gatehouse. In 1673 Sir Allan Maclean rebuilt the three stories building on the North East side of the courtyard, facing the entrance. There was a kitchen at ground floor level and residential rooms above. In 1691 the Maclean’s surrendered Duart and all their lands on Mull to the Duke of Argyll. The Castle, although in a fairly ruinous condition was used as a garrison for Government troops until 1751. It was then abandoned until 1910 when it was purchased by Sir Fitzroy Maclean, 26th Chief. He then set about the enormous task of restoring the building. The current owner of the castle is Sir Lachlan MacLean. We return to the Isle of Mull hotel and stay overnight.

19 July We leave the hotel at 0815 this morning to catch the ferry back to Oban. From Oban we travel north past Castle Stalker to Ballachulish and Glencoe "The Glen of Weeping" where the Campbell’s murdered the McDonalds in 1592; from there we head south through some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland for a visit to the Battle of Bannockburn site and on to New Lanark for a 3 night stay.. Glen Coe is a steep-sided valley climbing steadily south east from the village of Glencoe on the sea-loch, Loch Leven. It emerges from its enveloping mountains on to Rannoch moor. Glen Coe is best known for an event that took place at 5 a.m. on the morning of 13 February 1692, but whose origins go back much further. For the previous two hundred years the Glen Coe MacDonald's had been regarded as cattle-thieves, especially by the Campbell's, whose more fertile lands lay towards Loch Awe to the south and Glen Lyon to the south east. After a stop here to enjoy the beauty of this area we will head south stopping for lunch at the Green Welly. We then head to Stirling and the Battle of Bannockburn. Bannockburn is the site of the 1314 battle won against all the odds by Robert the Bruce against Edward II of England. This win led to the re establishment of an Independent Scotland and a few years later to the Declaration of Arbroath. After a full and exciting day learning many aspects of Scottish history and travelling through some stunning landscapes, it will be lovely to relax at the Mill House Hotel New Lanark.

20 July Today we will visit Mauchline where Robert Burns farmed at Mossgiel and we will visit the house where he first lived with his wife Jean Armour, then on to Alloway his birthplace and finally to Kirkoswald where his cronies from Tam O’Shanter lived. 2009 is the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns born on 25th January 1759 - a wonderful time to visit this area and learn about our most famous poet. In Mauchline, the Burns House Museum is a fresh combination of interactive and traditional exhibits. Situated in the cobbled back streets of Mauchline where Robert Burns lived and worked between 1784 and 1788, years considered being the most important and formative of his life. It was also Mauchline where he met and married his great love Jean Armour. On display here are a number of original manuscripts and objects from Burns’ life, including poems and letters, as well as an original Kilmarnock Edition. Across the road in Nanse Tinnock’s (an alehouse in Burns’ day) visitors can discover more about two Mauchline Industries – curling stones and Mauchline Boxware. We will also see the first National Monument to Burns built in Victorian times on the edge of Mauchline as we drive past Mossgiel Farm on our way to the Tarrbolton Bachelors’ Club where Burn’s attended dancing lessons and formed a debating club in 1780. In 1781 he was initiated as a Freemason here.

A short drive takes us to Alloway. At the southern end of Alloway are the Burns Monument, Garden and Statue House, the Brig o' Doon and the Tam o' Shanter Experience which together form the Burns National Heritage Park. We will lunch in Alloway. Not far from the centre is Alloway Old Kirk which played a starring role in the poem Tam o' Shanter. At the northern end of Alloway is Burns Cottage. The Burns Cottage Museum is being rebuilt by the National Trust and unfortunately will not be completed until 2010. However many special items have been put on display in Rozelle House Art Gallery in an exhibition entitled – “A Star is Born: Robert Burns and Alloway”. Rozelle House was originally built to a Robert Adam classical design, but was remodelled to remove the classical structures. There is an opportunity to see 54 paintings by Alexander Goudie of Tam O’Shanter. There is also an exhibition about golf entitled “The Whole in One” It is fascinating to view some of Burns original letters and poems. The gallery is set in lovely park lands. In the afternoon we will travel to Kirkoswald to visit Soutar Johnnie’s cottage and churchyard. Robert Burns went to school here. Later in the Tour, we will follow Robert Burns' life to Dumfries where he lived for the last 7 years of his life dying of rheumatic fever on 21 July 1796 at the age of 37. Tonight we will have a chance to learn about Whisky as Steve, my husband has offered to do a Nosing and Tasting before dinner tonight. Overnight stay at Mill Hotel New Lanark.

.
21 July
A more relaxed day today as we will spend the morning at New Lanark and in the afternoon visit Pollock Country Park with house and Burrell Collection or the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow which was refurbished and reopened in 2006. The architecture, art and displays are stunning. Our morning will be spent at New Lanark learning about Robert Owen and his Mill and millworkers. Also time to enjoy the leisure facilities at the New Lanark Mill Hotel. New Lanark Cotton Mill and village have been beautifully restored and is a World Heritage site. We will learn the fascinating history of this 18th century cotton mill village nestled into spectacular south Lanarkshire valley in southern Scotland close to the Falls of Clyde. The village first rose to fame when Robert Owen was mill manager 1800-1825. Owen transformed life in New Lanark with ideas and opportunities which were at least a hundred years ahead of their time. Child labour and corporal punishment were abolished, and villagers were provided with decent homes, schools and evening classes, free health care, and affordable food. Highlights of any visit will include the magical New Millennium Experience ride and an audio-visual theatre show called 'Annie McLeod's Story' where the ghost of a mill girl appears on stage.

Pollock Country Park comprises Pollock House and gardens owned and operated by the National Trust and the Burrell collection. There is a shuttle bus between the 2 buildings. Pollock house was built in the 18th century and has lovely gardens as well as beautifully furnished rooms with some stunning paintings by El Greco, Blake and Murillo. The Burrell Collection is as its name suggests a collection by one man gifted to the City of Glasgow on the understanding that the collection would be kept together and displayed in one place. At the Burrell Collection you can wander round important collections of medieval art, tapestries, alabasters, stained glass and English oak furniture. There are many European paintings, including works by Degas and C├ęzanne, an important collection of Islamic art, and modern sculpture including works by Epstein and Rodin. We have a fine collection of works from ancient China, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Architectural features from the collection have been integrated into the structure of the building. You can walk under arches built for medieval lords and ladies. There are also reconstructions of rooms from Sir William’s home, furnished in gothic style with items from the collection.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a fabulous space to display art and artefacts from Scotland and beyond. Scottish Art is little known outside Scotland, but we had some very talented artists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There is work by the Glasgow Boys - a group of Scottish artist who rebelled against Victorian sentimentality and revolutionised Scottish painting between 1880 and 1895. The Scottish Colourists - Fergusson, Peploe, Cadell and Hunter brought a colourful French style to Scottish painting. We can compare our Scottish artist with work by French, Italian and Dutch artists. If our artists are not well known, many people have heard of Charles Rennie Mackintosh the famous architect and designer who like many before him was better known in England than Scotland. However much of his work in Glasgow can still be seen today and examples of it are on display at the museum. We can also explore Scottish wildlife and life in Scottish lochs. There is also an opportunity to learn a little about Scotland's first people. The museum is an amazing experience. I have already visited twice and look forward to my next visit! We return to New Lanark for overnight. We are going to be entertained by an accordion player tonight with a chance, I am sure to practise our singing!


22 July
Today we head south to Dumfries. We visit Ellisland Farm, Kirkcudbright and John Paul Jones Cottage and Sweetheart Abbey before reaching the Station Hotel for a 2 night stay. Robert Burns was 29, in the prime of his life and the peak of his powers when he came to Ellisland Farm in Dumfries. Many of his best loved nature poems were inspired by the tranquil setting of Ellisland farm. Today it provides great insight into life on a farm 200 years ago. Tam O'Shanter was written here and is probably his best known poem which we will have learnt about at Alloway. The following is the first few lines from it:
"When chapman billies leave the street,
And droughty neibors, neibors, meet;
As market days are wearing late,
And folk begin to tak the gate,
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
An' getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps and stiles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Where sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm".

We head for Kirkcudbright which is known as an artist’s town. The main exhibition in the Town Hall is called Home Again and shows works by artists associated with Kirkcudbright from the late 19th century. Kirkcudbright has its own castle MacLellan’s at the centre of town close to the River Dee. Sir Thomas MacLellan built this castle between 1577 and 1582 on the site of Greyfriars friary. It is currently managed by Historic Scotland. The Tolbooth Art Centre is housed in the town’s old stone Toolbooth at the corner of the High Street. It is a beautiful building with a busy programme of art and craft exhibitions. Also in town is the Stewarty Museum with an amazing variety of archaeological and historic artefacts. This year it also has an exhibition about Homecoming. We will have lunch at the Selkirk Arms Hotel where Robert Burns visited when he was a customs officer in Dumfries and attended the Customs house in Kirkcudbright. Mid afternoon we head to the John Paul Jones Cottage Museum to see the humble beginnings of the man who became the Father of the American Navy. He was born 6 July 1747 to and lived until 18 July 1792 making him a contemporary of Robert Burns. They certainly lived in a changing world with America becoming an independent nation in 1776. He was a Captain from the age of 21 and appears to have had chequered history depending on where you view it from Britain or America. One of his exploits was to try and capture for ransom the Earl of Selkirk, but he was not at home! On 23 September 1779, Jones was commanding the 42 gun Bonhomme Richard, which was sailing with four other US ships off Flamborough Head, in Yorkshire. Here they encountered and engaged a convoy of merchant vessels guarded by two Royal Navy ships. The Bonhomme Richard was engaged and severely damaged by the rather larger HMS Serapis. During the encounter, Jones' ship had the masts and the flag blown away and was clearly sinking, and the British captain is said to have asked whether the Bonhomme Richard was surrendering. John Paul Jones' reply, which has gone down in history, was “I have not yet begun to fight." Jones then rammed HMS Serapis and a boarding party captured her. The French responded by making him Chevalier John Paul Jones, and the Continental Congress produced a gold medal in his honour in 1787. In Britain he was regarded as a pirate. He died in retirement in Paris and his remains are under permanent military guard in a tomb at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

Finally we will visit Sweetheart Abbey. The substantial remains of Sweetheart Abbey, near the village of New Abbey are the testament of the love John Balliol's wife Lady Devorgilla had for him. On 10 April 1273 she signed a charter establishing a new Cistercian abbey here in memory of her husband who had died four years earlier. Thanks to the Reformation her later endowment of a college at Oxford University in his name turned out to be a more enduring memorial. After her death in 1290 Lady Devorgilla was buried in the sanctuary of the abbey church with the casket containing her husband's heart. Sweetheart Abbey stopped being a religious community after the Reformation of 1560. Over the centuries stone from the Abbey was used to build in the surrounding area. In 1779 local subscribers clubbed together to conserve the remainder of the abbey church. The Abbey is currently managed and maintained by historic Scotland.

23 July Today we visit Gretna Green, Caerlaverock castle and Dumfries. Our first stop today is at Gretna Green - famous for run away marriages over the centuries followed by a visit to Caerlaverock Castle. We will return to the Station Hotel Dumfries for lunch and free time. Later we will meet up at 24 Burns Street, where Burns lived after he gave up Ellisland and visit his mausoleum is in St Michael's Churchyard. We will also see a lovely statue of Jean Armour close to the churchyard. Burns spent the last years of his life in Dumfries, dying in Dumfries in 1796.

Every year over 4000 weddings take place in Gretna Green which amounts to about one in eight of all weddings that take place in Scotland. Gretna Green lies a mile across the border into Scotland from England. In 1754 a marriage act in England meant that no one could get married there under the age of 21 without parental consent. This law did not apply in Scotland where anyone of 16 or over can get married without their parents' consent. Gretna Green was the first place you reached in Scotland when following the main route north from Carlisle and thus became a centre for runaway marriages. The act of marriage came to be marked by the blacksmith striking his anvil, symbolising the joining together two pieces of metal in the heat of the blacksmith's fire. Like them the couples involved were joined to the heat of the moment and bound together for eternity.

Caerlaverock Castle is one of the most attractive and interesting castles in Scotland. It is surrounded by a moat and is a most unusual shape, an equilateral triangle with its apex at the huge northern gatehouse. This castle was started in 1270, completed by 1300 when it was successfully besieged by 87 knights and 3000 men of Edward I of England. The English retained the castle until 1312. The castle was besieged again in 13 56 this time by the Scots who were not sure of Maxwell's loyalty to the crown. The castle we will view mainly dates back to the rebuilding in the late 1300's and 1400s. After the union of the crowns in 1603, peace finally descended on the borders after 400 years of sporadic warfare. In 1634 Robert Maxwell, the First Earl of Nithsdale, built the east range whose ornamental stonework still dominates the interior of the castle. The castle is managed and maintained by Historic Scotland.

We return for lunch at the Station Hotel and browse around Dumfries during the afternoon. Dumfries was founded as a Royal Burgh in 1186 on the east side of the lowest crossing point of the River Nith. The land beyond the Nith, Galloway, only securely became part of Scotland during Alexander II's reign in 1234: so Dumfries was very much on the frontier during its first 50 years and it grew rapidly as a market town and port.

The first bridge over the Nith, Devorgilla Bridge, named after Devorgilla, the mother of King John Balliol, was built here in 1432. Rebuilt more than once and shortened from the east in the 1800s, this is still used by pedestrians and is one of Scotland's oldest standing bridges.

We will meet later to visit Burns House and Mausoleum and to visit the Globe Inn Burns Howff. It was indeed his favourite HOWFF (an inn or meeting place) and with its close (street) retains much of its former atmosphere. We will have an informal Burns Supper here this evening. First we visit the simple sandstone house in a quiet Dumfries street that Robert Burns, spent the last years of his brilliant life. He died here in 1796 at the age of just thirty seven. The house gives us a picture of how the poet and his family lived in the late eighteenth century. It is now a place of pilgrimage for Burns enthusiasts from around the world. You can see his desk and chair in the study where he wrote his best known poems, the famous Kilmarnock and Edinburgh editions of his work, many original manuscripts and belongings of the poet and his family. Established in 1610, The Globe Inn, Dumfries has long been associated with Robert Burns. In 1796, Burns wrote: "... the Globe Tavern here, which these many years has been my Howff ...", and in 1819, the first of what was to become the annual tradition of Burns Suppers was held here at The Globe Inn. At his howff (or haunt) his favourite seat still survives, and some of his poetry may still be seen inscribed by Robert Burns with a diamond on his bedroom windows. The Globe Inn is an important historic pub, steeped in the history of Robert Burns and Dumfries. Every corner is packed with fascinating memorabilia. Overnight at the Station Hotel.


24 July
Today we journey north to Edinburgh through the borders. We will visit Melrose and stop at the beautiful abbey We will also visit Abbotsford House, home of Sir Walter Scott a famous writer and poet and finally Rosslyn Chapel made famous in the film “The Da Vinci Code” before completing our trip to Edinburgh.

The name of Melrose, or Mailros, was confusingly applied first to a loop in the River Tweed two miles east of today's town. This was home to a monastery founded by St Aidan from 650AD and destroyed by the Scots in AD839. When King David I asked the Cistercians to set up an abbey at Melrose in 1136 he had in mind the site of St Aidan's earlier monastery. The Cistercians preferred a site two miles to the west and they built over the following 50 years took the name of Melrose Abbey. Melrose Abbey was first staffed by an abbot and 12 monks from Rievaulx, who set to work constructing the abbey buildings. The east end of the Abbey Church would have been built first, and a service of dedication for it took place on 28 June 1146. Other buildings in the complex were slowly constructed over a period of at least another 50 years. The best known monk at Melrose during this period was Jocelin, who rose to become the 4th Abbot of Melrose Abbey in 1170. In 1322 Melrose Abbey and the town that had grown up around it were attacked by the English army of Edward II. Much of the abbey was destroyed and many monks were killed. The subsequent rebuilding was helped greatly by the generosity of Robert the Bruce. This link was later formally recognised when Robert's embalmed heart, encased in lead, was buried at Melrose Abbey.

Sir Walter Scott lived from 15 August 1771 to 21 September 1832.He was a contemporary of Burns and lived at Abbotsford House. He can be thought of as the first international literary superstar. As a poet and as a historical novelist, he was popular throughout the world in his day and, to an extent, his books remain read today. He did much to popularise the image of Scotland particularly in relation to tartan and landscapes. Scott was born and educated in Edinburgh and practised law there. Due to childhood ill health, he spent time in the borders with his grandparents and acquired a broad knowledge of folklore and ballads. His most famous poem published in 1810 was The Lady in the Lake and his most famous novels were Waverley, Rob Roy and Ivanhoe. He unearthed the Honours of Scotland: the crown, sceptre and sword of state which had been locked away deep in the bowels of Edinburgh Castle forgotten since the Act of Union in 1707. In 1820, he was created a Baronet and in 1822 he organised the visit by King George IV to Scotland: the first visit of a reigning monarch to Scotland since 1650. Scott is buried in the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey. Abbotsford must certainly qualify as one of Scotland's longest standing tourist attractions. Those visiting included Queen Victoria on 22 August 1867. In 1883 the total number of over 1500 visitors included 20 from the USA. Today's visitor is therefore following a very well established trail. We will have lunch here.

Our last visit today is to Rosslyn Chapel made famous by the film “The Da Vinci Code”. I have long been fascinated by the chapel and the exquisite Apprentice pillar in it. I first visited in the early 1970s and remain fascinated by the architecture and mystery surrounding it. We will have a guided tour which will highlight the main points. Founded in 1446 as the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew by Sir William St Clair, the Chapel took some forty years to complete and was not finished until after Sir William’s death in 1484. The beauty of its setting and the mysterious symbolism of its ornate stonework have inspired and intrigued artists and visitors ever since. Rosslyn has survived turbulent times. In 1571, Protestant reformers seized the building, and in 1592 the altars were demolished; the Chapel ceased to be used as a place of worship and over the years fell into a state of disrepair. Although some initial restoration work was carried out in 1736, it was not until the early 1800s that the St Clair family began work in earnest to restore the interior of the building, and by 1862 the Chapel was once more a working church. One of the things that you will notice during a visit to Rosslyn Chapel is the steel canopy which sits over the building and protects it from the worst of the weather. It is possible to climb steps to look at the architecture from above. This canopy was erected in 1997 to enable the stonework inside the Chapel to dry out naturally. It has nearly completed its job and once the works to the roof are finished it will be removed and the Chapel revealed in all its glory. Most conservation projects use conventional stonemasonry techniques, but the delicate nature of Rosslyn Chapel’s ornate stone carvings commands a very different approach. Techniques more usually associated with single pieces of museum sculpture will be painstakingly applied throughout the Chapel. While plying their skill, the highly specialised conservators will train a new generation of skilled craftspeople. So, in addition to protecting an historic building, they will be protecting skills that will be practised and passed on for years to come. We drive to the Dakota, Queensferry Hotel for 3 nights.


25 July This morning we will arrive at the Gathering at Holyrood Park in time for the Opening Ceremony by HRH Prince Charles and Camilla who are known in Scotland as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay. We will spend the day at the Gathering before joining the parade of Clans up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle for the Pageant. MacDuff castle is not in as good state of repair as many of the castles that we have visited on our trip. The tower is the only remaining part of a large building which was first built in the 13/14th centuries. The ruin lies on the cliff-top above the Wemyss caves near East Wemyss. Edward I of England visited here in 1304, staying with MacDuff's descendant, Michael Wemyss. However, Wemyss later joined forces with Robert the Bruce and Edward ordered the castle to be destroyed. We will hold the Clan MacDuff AGM here today making our own piece of history. After a trip along the Fife coast it will be time to join the other Clans for the Highland Gathering in Holyrood Park Edinburgh. From all that |I have read about the Gathering, we are going to have a fabulous time. In the early evening we will gather together to march up the hill from Holyrood Park to Edinburgh Castle. The Clans will march in alphabetic order which will mean that the MacDuff’s will be towards the back to parade. Each group of Clans will be led by a Pipe Band. We will all be seated at Edinburgh Castle in time for the Pageant which will run from 2200 to 2300. We will then return to the Dakota Hotel for overnight.


26 July This morning we will visit MacDuff castle. MacDuff castle is not in as good state of repair as many of the castles that we have visited on our trip. The tower is the only remaining part of a large building which was first built in the 13/14th centuries. The ruin lies on the cliff-top above the Wemyss caves near East Wemyss. Edward I of England visited here in 1304, staying with MacDuff's descendant, Michael Wemyss. However, Wemyss later joined forces with Robert the Bruce and Edward ordered the castle to be destroyed. We will hold the Clan MacDuff AGM here today making our own piece of history. After a trip along the Fife coast it will be time to join the other Clans for the second day of Highland Gathering in Holyrood Park Edinburgh. There will be an option to visit Rosslyn Chapel or the National Museum of Scotland. It seems as if there will be lots to do and see. Overnight at the Dakota Hotel.


27 July After breakfast end of the tour.

Hotels during the Tour: To phone from the States dial 0044 and drop (0) in the numbers below:

The Beardmore Hotel and Conference Centre Stay from 15-17 July

Pool and Gym

Beardmore Street, Clydebank, Glasgow, Dunbartonshire, G81 4SA.

Telephone: 0141 9516000

Web: http://www.thebeardmore.com/

The Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa Stay from 17-19 July

Swimming Pool, Gym and outdoor Hot Tub

Craignure, Isle of Mull, PA65 6BB

Telephone: 0870 9506267

Web: http://www.crerarhotels.com/ourhotels/isle_of_mull_hotel/

New Lanark Mill Hotel Stay from 19-22 July

Health and Fitness Suite and Swimming Pool
South Lanarkshire, Scotland ML11 9DB
Telephone: 01555 667200

Web: http://www.newlanarkhotel.co.uk/

Best Western Station Hotel Stay from 22-24 July
49 Lovers Walk, Dumfries, Dumfries-shire, DG1 1LT

Telephone: 01387 254316

Web: http://www.bestwestern.co.uk/Hotels/Best-Western-Station-Hotel-83501/Hotel-Info/Default.aspx

Dakota Forth Bridge Stay from 24-27 July
Queensferry, Edinburgh, EH30 9QZ

Telephone: 0870 4234293

Web: http://www.dakotaforthbridge.co.uk/