We’ll be staying in the Trossachs as a base of operations for about two weeks. Last night I discovered Dalnair Castle Lodge, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it. It’s a Scottish baronial gatehouse in the village of Croftamie in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The village pub and restaurant is a 5 minute walk, and the lodge has that quintessential feature – a castellated turret. Because, you know, turrets are a must.
The catch – it’s expensive. Of course, we are travelling in peak season (which I never do in Australia) so I may just have to accept accommodation is going to be expensive no matter what I do.
Also, it’s perfect. We’re travelling with my parents, so something that offers two ‘main-type’ bedrooms with own bathrooms is a must, and a second sitting room with TV would be useful so they can have their own space. The Castle Lodge offers upstairs bedrooms for us and the girls, with a bathroom, while downstairs offers my parents a double bedroom with own bathroom, and a ‘reading room’ separate from the main sitting room so they can watch TV separately if they desire. So much of the accommodation that is big enough to accommodate us only offers one double room with the others all being twins or singles, so this is a rare find.
Rob Roy’s Grave
Now that we’re settled in, we’ll be off on a relaxed sightseeing programme. I’ve already been to Rob Roy’s Grave, but I would like to go again and take my Dad. We saw some beautiful scenery on the way, and stopped at Monachyle Mohr hotel for lunch afterward.
You can find Rob Roy’s grave at Balquhidder Parish church in the village of Balquhidder. We never would have found it the first time (or even known it existed) except for the advice of our host, Donnie, at Ballochneck House.
Balquhidder kirkyard is interesting in its own right and reflects Celtic worship for 4000 years, being situated in what the Celts believed to be a ‘thin place’ between our world and the spiritual world. The hill above the kirkyard is called Tom nan Aingeal, meaning ‘hill of fire’ as it was used by Druids as a site for sacred fires at Beltane and Samhain.
The first known church was built here in 1250 by Abbot Labhran; his heirs became known as the Clan MacLaren. A stone in the kirkyard records how the MacLarens were attacked by the MacGregors of Glen Dochart. In 1558, the MacGregors murdered 18 MacLaren families and got away with it! This was one of the factors (along with killing several hundred Colquhouns in 1603) that later led to the outlawing of the entire Clan MacGregor. As a result, even the name MacGregor became a capital offence.
In case you don’t know, Rob Roy was a MacGregor – although since he died in the 18th century, I think it’s safe to say he wasn’t directly responsible for any of the murders in the 16th and 17th centuries. That outlawing lasted a long time, and I can see how a hundred years later you might feel justifiably aggrieved by not being allowed to use your clan name. His gravestone was added to the kirkyard in 1981 and bears the inscription ‘MacGregor Despite Them’.
Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne
Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 - join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!
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