Today we continue our tour of Blair Castle and the grounds surrounding it. Last week
I covered some of the history and shared some pics.
Blair Castle sits in the middle of a 145,000 acre estate which includes hills, farmland, mountains, forestry, housing, industrial development and hiking trails.
Blair Castle was captured by Cromwell in 1652 and held until
1660 when Charles II was restored to the throne. The 2nd
Earl was made Marquis in 1676 as a reward for his loyalty to Charles II. His
son was rewarded with a dukedom in 1703 by Queen Anne. When she wanted him to
support the Act of Union between England and Scotland, he refused until better
terms could be reached. As a result, he was placed under house arrest at Blair
Castle for several months in 1708.
|Huge trees between the road and pasture|
Things became more complex for the family during the
Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745. The Duke and his second son, James,
supported the government. The oldest and youngest sons, William and George,
supported the Jacobite cause (the Stewarts). As a result, William was stripped
of his inheritance and exiled to France. The 2nd
succeeded his father in 1724. In 1745, William returned from France with Bonnie
Prince Charlie and raised the Stewart standard at Glenfinnan. On the march
south, they stayed at Blair Castle. His brother, the duke, had already left
because knew what was happening. Soon after, government forces captured Blair
In 1746 the third son, Lord George Murray, returned from commanding the Jacobite campaign in England and besieged his own home. Before he could take possession of it, he was recalled to the Battle of Culloden. He survived but died in Holland in exile. His brother William died imprisoned in the Tower of London. Their brother James, still in possession of Blair Castle and having just inherited the Isle of Man, returned to Blair and made repairs. He turned the castle into a grand Georgian mansion. In order to keep the castle in the family, he was forced to marry off his second daughter to her first cousin, John Murray, son of the exiled George. He became the 3rd Duke in 1764. He sold the Isle of Man to the government to help finance the remodeling of another of his properties.
The 5th Duke suffered ill health and his nephew Lord Glenlyon became the 6th Duke. In the 1840s Glenlyon lent Queen Victoria Blair Castle for a three-week stay. Queen Victoria is known to have had a huge love for Scotland and the Highlands. During her stay, she was given a guard of Athollmen. In appreciation, she granted the Duke and his men her colors and the right to bear arms. This is how the Atholl Highlanders became a private army. Today they are the only private army remaining in Europe.
The 7th Duke made a huge amount of money because of the railway. He turned the Georgian mansion into a grand Victorian baronial masterpiece.
In the 20th century, wars brought financial difficulty to the estate. In 1932, the estate was formed into a company, now known as the Blair Charitable Trust. In 1936 the castle was opened to the public for tours, one of the first in Britain to welcome visitors in this way.
Bruce Murray is the current and 12th Duke of Atholl.
The Whim is a folly built in 1761 and is simply a façade
with Gothic arches and a parapet wall with two pavilions. We didn't walk all
the way up to it.
Diana's Grove is two acres of beautiful, quiet woodland
beside the castle. It contains some of the country's tallest trees. One, called
the Grand Fir, is the UK's second tallest tree at 62.70 meters. Diana is the Roman goddess of hunting, fertility and the moon. This woodland park was originally created by the 2nd Duke in 1737. The 7th Duke replanted it in 1871 with exotic conifers. Unfortunately many of these were blown down in a massive storm in 1893. It was later replanted with grand fir, noble fir, Douglas fir, larch, western hemlock and Wellingtonia. Many of these trees are native to North America. This is considered one of the best big tree collections in the country. Most of the trees are over a hundred years old. At least twenty of the trees are over 150 feet tall, the tallest being grand firs. One is over 208 feet tall. A Douglas fir is over 194 feet tall.
|A gate in the beautiful old wall. Somewhere beyond this is a ruined kirk, St. Bride's.|
|click on this photo to enlarge and read the info|
Walking through this grove of tall trees was an amazing experience. It's very peaceful and tranquil, shady and cool. I couldn't help but look up and try to see the tops of the trees. A stream, Banvie Burn, runs along one side of the trail.
This tree is planted on a huge mound of dirt, very unusual and interesting.
|Click on this photo to enlarge|
|18th century bridge over Banvie Burn|
|Such a wonderful place to walk|
|one of the huge trees|
|View of Blair Castle through the trees|
Thanks for taking this walk with me through Diana's Grove!
I want to walk in Diana's Grove, Vonda. So lovely, and so inspiring to the imagination. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Mairi! You would love it!
I think I was the least stressed I've ever been while I was in Scotland. Every time I read your blog I get that same relaxed feeling. I'm loving these postings.
Amazing place, Vonda! I'd love to go for a walk through those woods. Terrific pictures!
Teresa, thanks! That's true, Scotland will take your stress away. It's a very relaxing and enjoyable place.
I'm glad you like the pics, Vanessa! Thanks! These woods are wonderful. Very cool and relaxing.
I love Diana's statue the most! Beautiful pics, Vonda.
Vonda, if you weren't so successful doing the romance novel writing thing, you could be a travel writer (and photographer). Really fascinating stuff here! And I LOVE LOVE that last photo.
My heart almost stopped beating when I saw the last photo, Vonda. WOW that is beautiful and I bet it could win in contests. Not only is the setting great but you can almost feel the magic that is Scotland coming from it.
You are so good at taking the photos. Thanks for sharing again.
Keira, thanks! It was a lovely old statue. It definitely sets a nice mood for the stroll through the woods.
Wow thanks, Randy! That means a lot to me! I love photography and taking photos of beautiful places. I also love writing about Scotland. I'm so glad you like that photo of Blair through the trees. It was a great photo opp.
So glad you like that photo, Paisley. Thanks! I agree, it's sort of a snapshot of the magic, mystery and beauty of Scotland. I truly love taking photos.
Wonderful photos, Vonda! Hubby and I visited Blair Castle several years ago while on a bus tour of Scotland. We didn't get to take all the walks due to time constraints, but what we saw was enthralling. Did you see some peacocks wandering the grounds? We did and took a couple pics of them. Thanks for sharing yours!
I feel I'm walking/touring with you Vonda!! Thank-you for sharing...
Beautiful & educational :)
Thanks, Lyn! How wonderful that you got to tour Blair Castle. Yes, we saw some peacocks but unfortunately they wouldn't spread their tail feathers so I could get a good pic. :)
Thanks, Jennifer! I'm glad it felt like a tour.
June, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Enjoyed the tour of Blair Castle. Lovely photos.
Thanks so much, Brenda! I'm glad you liked it.
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