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Tour Killiecrankie, Tenandry and Strathgarry

Killiecrankie, Tenandry and Strathgarry.

Killiecrankie is one of the famous names of Scotland, renowned both for its history and its scenery. The Pass of Killiecrankie lies three miles north of Pitlochry, and for a mile threads the deep, steep, thickly-wooded gorge of the Garry, between a spur of Ben Vrackie (2757 feet) and Tenandry Hill, with the village at the north end. Through this narrow winding defile, above the rushing river, run the A 9 highway and the railway to Inverness.

About a mile beyond the Pass, to the north, was fought in 1689 the famous battle, between the forces of William of Orange, newly brought to the throne, and the unseated and exiled James VII and II. General Mackay, a veteran of the foreign wars, led the government forces, and Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, the Jacobites. It is rather strange how popular a hero he has become in Scottish minds--for he was scarcely popular at the time, his stern hand at the putting down of the Covenanters, during the preceding 'Killing Times', making his name execrated by many. However, his looks and the well-known song between them, seem to have metamorphosed him. 'Bonnie Dundee' won this battle, but fell in the moment of victory, a stone marking the spot. His dying words are famed. "How goes the day ?" he gasped, of a man named Johnson, who had aided him down from his saddle. "Well for King James," the other answered. "But I am sorry for your lordship." The dying Dundee said, "If it is well for him, it matters the less for me" He did not speak again. Two thousand of the government troops were killed or captured, for a loss of 900 Highlanders. Nevertheless, with Dundee's death, the victory was more or less fruitless, and that Jacobite campaign soon ended.

The Pass, once a dangerous trap for travellers, and the key to Atholl, is now a popular venue for visitors, and the National Trust for Scotland, owners of the property, have an attractive centre here. Towards the north end is the famed Soldier's Leap, where one of Mackay's fleeing men managed to jump the foaming cataract between two fearsome rocks, and so escape the pursuing enemy.

Spanning the river to the south is Bridge of Garry, recently replaced by a modern structure. This carries the road to Tummel and Rannoch. Just over the bridge, a small and very steeply-climbing side-road branches off to the right, to ascend high above the Pass on the west side, passing the remotely but beautifully sited church and manse of Tenandry. Although an ancient parish, the present church was built only in 1836, with seating for 430-- an extraordinary provision for a place of worship with no centre of population for miles around. The graveyard is most attractively carved out of the steep birchwoods.

This high back-road drops as steeply beyond, to rejoin the A 9 by another bridge, at Killiecrankie village, passing a lofty-sited dun on the way. But a branch-road continues on up the south side of the Garry for nearly four miles, coming to a dead-end opposite Blair Atholl, with which it communicates only by a footbridge. On the way, this riverside road serves the scattered farms and mansion of Strathgarry, and the large and inevitably unsightly quarry near Glackmore. Two fords are marked on the map as crossing the wide and rushing river; but it would be a bold motorist who attempted them.

If you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:

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