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Click here for our road trip itinerary.
Casey specifically wanted to go the Killiecrankie to see a battlefield where the Jacobites fought troops supporting Protestant King William in 1689. If you want the full history, click here.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the battlefield because it’s owned privately. That being said, there’s a cute visitor’s center with nature trails and exhibitions about the battle right off A9. (They do charge £2 to park, but everything else is free).
You can see two historical locations there, one which we missed, and the other called “Soldier’s Leap” where a British solider supposedly leapt 18 feet across the River Garry to escape the Jacobites.
It looks pretty harrowing, but possible!
We didn’t stay long because we wanted to get to the castle, but we enjoyed the drizzle-covered scenery enough to take a few pictures.
Blair Castle is just a short drive down the road — maybe 6 minutes. We paid just to tour the castle grounds, rather than to tour the castle because it was cheaper, and we knew we didn’t have a ton of time for a tour. (It’s £5.90 for adults and students). You do have to pay to get anywhere near the castle, I’m afraid.
It felt very “Cinderella” to me with the pretty turrets and white walls. I imagine in the sunshine it’s absolutely breathtaking.
The only part of the grounds we ended up seeing was Diana’s Grove, a stunning forest named after the Goddess Diana of giant trees. Fun fact: Casey’s parents are Blair and Diana, so it was too cute that we saw Diana’s grove at Blair Castle 🙂
Here’s a handy snippet about the Grove:
Diana’s Grove is a tranquil wooded area situated near to Blair Castle within the grounds of Atholl Estates. Visiting is a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the country’s finest and tallest trees in a space of just two acres. Diana’s Grove is the home of a Grand Fir which is the UK’s second tallest tree measuring at 62.70 metres, Japanese Larch which is the tallest in the UK at 44 metres and a Red Fir which is the tallest in the UK at 39 metres.
Diana’s Grove is named after the Roman Goddess of Hunting. Blair Castle is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl, known as the ‘Planting Dukes’ in the 18th & 19th centuries, by 1830 the family had planted over 27 million trees within the Atholl Glens.
But the coolest of the trees, for us Americans, was the baby Redwood 🙂 You will see in the gallery below Casey and I on a mound with one giant tree — that’s it! The mound is called “The Mount Strange.” Ash at TreeBlog says:
The Mount Strange tree was grown from seed collected from the Grizzly Giant, the largest redwood growing in the Mariposa Grove of Yosemite National Park, California. The mound on which it grows was reshaped in 1884 to match the diameter of the trunk of the parent tree (according to Wikipedia the Grizzly Giant has a dbh of 780 cm these days!) – it initially commemorated “the 2nd Duke of Atholl taking his seat in parliament. He had recently inherited the title Barony of Strange through his paternal grandmother and went under this to parliament in 1737, the year in which Diana’s Grove was originally laid out.”
Fun facts! We had a great time roaming around the Grove and taking tons of pictures. It was particularly drizzly all day, so the tree cover actually kept us dry.
Should you go? If you have the time, I bet going into the castle would be super fun (it’s £5 more than just a garden tour), and I’m sure all the other gardens on the property are lovely (we missed those too!). That being said, Diana’s Grove was well worth the admissions price for a tranquil and lovely walk through an enchanted forest. And the Killiecrankie Visitor’s Center? Only go if you are interested in the battle — save the forest-wandering for Diana!
Need a place to stay? Killiecrankie was just a stop on our journey, but here are the 10 Best Hotels near Killiecrankie according to TripAdvisor.