Killiecrankie: a walk into some Scottish History



“I went above the pass where I met with another water very deep, it was about eighteen foot over betwixt two rocks, I resolved to jump it, so I laid down my gun and hat and jumped and lost one of my shoes in the jump.”

Those were the words of Government fighter Donald McBean who leapt the raging River Garry at the Pass of Killiecrankie, escaping the victorious Jacobite soldiers pursuing him.

The Battle of Killiecrankie has gone down in Scottish history as a legendary rout by the Jacobites in this first Jacobite uprising in 1689. Unfortunately, they were defeated a month later at the Battle of Dunkeld having lost their leader, Viscount ‘Bonnie” Dundee, to Government forces at Killiecrankie.

Walking along this picturesque wooded gorge now, it’s hard to imagine it being the site of a deadly battle: wood anemones twinkle like stars on the earthen bank, punctuated by the soft yellow glow of primroses; birds chatter in the trees above.

We visited the Pass of Killiecrankie with a group of friends, most of who had small children. From the visitor centre we followed a trail down to Soldier’s leap โ€“ where the aforementioned McBean had jumped to safety, albeit with only one shoe โ€“ from there we walked along the river for about a mile until we reached a footbridge.

The trail stayed close to the river, the Killiecrankie viaduct towered above us at one point, I bet the trains using this line afford fantastic views for their passengers.


Our little party reached to footbridge and we all took turns checking out the view: only 10 adults are allowed on the bride at one time, a self-regulated safely precaution. I don’t want to tumble down into the black river below, I’ll leave that to the bungee jumpers throwing themselves off the adjacent, gorge-spanning, Garry Bridge (who weren’t to be seen while we were there).

KilliecrankieWe turned around and slowly meandered back to the visitor centre, little legs were getting weary, passing the Balfour Stone: a recumbent stone marking the grave of Brigadier Balfour (Government) who was fatally wounded during the Battle of Killiecrankie.

The rain had stayed off and we had all enjoyed the walk.

Killiecrankie is just south of Blair Atholl where we had spent the May Day Bank Holiday weekend camping, on the Blair Castle Caravan Park. We were comfortable and cosy in our new van/truck/Thunder, everyone else braved the inclement weather and camped under canvas.

killiecrankie1It was a great opportunity to spend some time in the van, testing out the electrics and living space. The day before we’d stopped off at Ikea, driving up to Scotland from Yorkshire, and I’d bought new bedding and a few bits and bobs to make living in the van easier.

We learned that the central heating in the camper unit sure does live up to all expectations: it was so warm and cosy, we had to open the windows a few times! It made a great refuge for sodden, cold children and a precious, princess dog!

The campsite is great for families, the kids enjoyed exploring and it is in a fabulous location: Blair Atholl is just a short drive up the A9 from Pitlochry.

Have you explored this bit of Scotland?

By Rachel A Davis

Try these posts:

Dundee’s First Instameet Was Amazing!Showcasing Scotland’s coolest little city with the world!

12 Ways Shetland Will Amaze You! Puffin gifs galore and a whole heap of Shetland wanderlust!

5 Beautiful Places in Dumfries and Galloway Don’t bypass the Borders, there’s beauty to be found!

5 Amazing Wildlife Experiences From white tailed sea eagles on Skye to tigers in India!

By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

8 Responses

  1. Looks beautiful, Rachel. I haven’t visited Scotland yet, but I’m hoping to go later this year with a girlfriend (if she can make the trip from the U.S.). Fingers crossed…

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Oooo, my fingers are crossed for you! It’s so beautiful. We are heading off north next month for 4 or 5 weeks of roaming so there’ll be more to inspire you!

  2. Ed Rex says:

    Ahh, what a great post! I love reading about history in the destinations and I think I’ve found a kindred spirit in you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Didn’t you want to bungee jump? Come on, you shoulda, woulda, coulda!

  3. I love learning about the local history of a place, especially when it’s somewhere that has changed so drastically. It looks so quiet and peaceful now! Glad the new van is working out, bet you were glad of that heating! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Me too, it’s so interesting!
      Yep, the camper is awesome, but our truck is overheating when we drive it so we’re trying to sort that out! Grrr!
      I’m super cosy in it right now though, so I’m still happy ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Dave Rowley says:

    Love all the beautiful photos! Looks like a beautiful day for hiking and camping. Did I see a sign for Pitlochry in one of the photos? The same place we visited for the distillery?

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thanks Dave! It’s a lovely place. Yes, Blair Atholl and Killiecrankie are both near Pitlochry, and the Edradour distillery we all visited is pretty near too: happy memories!