Marguerite & Betsy Trip to Scotland in 2009 Marguerite & Betsy Trip to Scotland in 2009

Marguerite & Betsy Trip to Scotland in 2009

Scotland has particular significance to Marguerite and her sister, Betsy, because their family name is McMillan. They decided to take the Highlands and Islands tour with Globus to learn more about their ancestral roots and also get a feel for the whole of Scotland. Marguerite and George had visited Scotland in 2003, with George driving, and found the area where the McMillan clan had been in the 1400s. George drove because this area of Argyll, Scotland, is not on the tourist venues.

Marguerite and Betsy revisited this area, using a local guide that George found on the internet, before they joined the Globus Tour for a two week adventure all over Scotland because George felt it was not a good idea for Marguerite and Betsy to drive on the "wrong side of the road", down one way cattle trails, with no signs to navigate. Even George found this somewhat taxing.

Kilmory Chapel and McMillan Cross

In the 1400s, the McMillan Clan was in the southern part of Scotland near the town of Lochgilphead, Argyll, Scotland. Marguerite and Betsy are leaning against the McMillan cross which dates from that time and is the focal point of the ruins of the tiny Kilmory Chapel. The ladies are wearing their McMillan Tartan scarves.

Go to Lockgilphead to learn more about the area.

Castle Sween

The ruins of the Castle Sween near the Kilmory Chapel have several plaques with references to the McMillan clan. Unfortunately, the Campbell Clan came along in the late 1400s and routed the McMillans out of the castle! These ruins are maintained nicely and are adjacent to a holiday park with small manufactured homes that families can rent during the spring and summer to enjoy the clean air and beautiful water.

Our Private Tour Guide, Nigel Cole

George found Nigel Cole, a professional tour guide based in Glasgow, to take Marguerite and Betsy to visit their ancestral roots on the internet. We all decided it was much better to hire a tour guide than rent a car and attempt to drive on the "wrong side of the road". Nigel is a charming Scottish fellow who knows lots about Scotland. His wife has McMillan ancestors so he also had some additional personal information from her. Turns out about 10% of the people now living in the Argyll area of Scotland are descended from the early McMillans.

The Globus Tour

We joined the tour group on Saturday evening, May 23. The tour group included 42 people -- mostly couples, mother-daughter pairs, and a few singles. We were the only "sister set" among the group. Our tour guide John was outstanding -- a delightful Brit with great knowledge of Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, and the history of Great Britain. Our driver, Alister, was terrific too -- driving a large Globus bus all over the tiny roads of the highlands and then getting us on and off several ferries so that we could visit the islands.

The Globus Tour Group

In this photo you see on the left our tour guide John and our driver Alister, only guys in ties.

Hadrian's Wall

An early visit was to Hadrian's Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes. It is now a national park. As you can see, the weather was gorgeous -- no rain and clear skies the entire trip. You can see Betsy in red.

Mary, Queen of Scots

We saw many castles on the trip -- some in ruins and others still occupied. Here Marguerite is waiting to visit Carlisle Castle which has guarded England's frontier with Scotland since the 11th century. It is at this castle that Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in 1568.

Hail Britannia

A highlight of the trip for both ladies was an optional tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Until about 10 years ago, this yacht was the royal residence for the Queen's glittering state visits and family holidays. It is now permanently berthed in Edinburgh harbor as a tourist attraction. We took a self-guided tour with a "hand held wand" and learned about how the Royal Family and crew of 240 lived and worked on board. At any one time there were probably fewer than 30 guests, so the guest to crew ratio insured enormous personal attention. Of course, we did some shopping at the gift shop attached to the venue!! Marguerite and George had also visited this Yacht in 2003 and have a similar picture with the yacht's bell.

Edinburgh Castle

Each morning the military guard gets ready to "protect" Edinburgh Castle throughout the day. We arrived early to see this demonstration and then visited the Castle. After the visit we bought McMillan fabric at the Woolen Mill nearby. Marguerite and Betsy will use the fabric to cover dining room chair cushions -- one set for Gar's Port Angeles cabin; one set for Betsy's North Carolina cabin.

Gardens of Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle was originally built in 1275 and is still the home of descendants of the Sutherland Clan. This clan once owned more land in Europe than any other clan, and was well known for being a major participant in "The Clearing" of Scotland in the late 1700s. During that time, landowners determined that sheep farming was a renewable resource but tenant farming cost more than it brought in. Accordingly, the aristocracy banded together and "cleared" the lands of the tenant farmers. To insure they did not come back, their dwellings were burned down. Most of those evicted were given one-way passage to the American Colonies and Australia. We think this how the McMillans got to south Georgia, although we don't have enough information to know exactly when or how our ancestors came to the United States.

On to Orkney Islands

We took many ferry rides during the tour. This was our first ferry ride from John o'Groats to the Orkney Islands. It was cold and windy, but the skies were clear. The Orkney Islands are as far north as we went on the trip. They are beautiful and very rustic. We saw many old ruins and did lots of walking.

Celtic Rings

There is a very interesting ring of the remains of 60 stones that were erected during Celtic times. There is much mystery about how and why these stones were erected, here and in other places throughout the world. The winds were terrific as we walked around and took photos.

Dunvegan Castle

Next we went to another set of islands, the Isle of Skye, where we visited the remote Dunvegan Castle, seat of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod since 1200.

Ferry to Isle of Mull

Here we are on the way to the Isle of Mull. In this group of islands is lots of clan history that goes back to the 500s AD.

Isle of Mull

While on the Isle of Mull we visited a fully-functional castle and met the "Laird" who lives there with his wife, three beautiful children, and his mother. He gave us a personal tour of the Castle along with the history of his family. At the end of the tour, our host provided a taste of wonderful local whiskey, and we then made an obligatory visit to the gift shop that is managed by his mother. The grounds around the castle are beautiful. The estate includes lots of land, many sheep and cows, and flower and vegetable gardens. The family opens the home to the public from mid-April through mid-October and the admission fees help with the costs of upkeep. A very expensive endeavor!!

Loch Lomond

After our final ferry ride, we headed back to Glasgow on the road known as the "Rest and be Thankful" to the "Bonnie Banks" of Loch Lomond. By this time, both ladies were pretty much out of energy and ready to head home. We celebrated the trip with a farewell dinner at the Glasgow hotel, then got up at 4:00 AM to catch our flights home. It was a wonderful trip and we both now know lots more about our McMillan roots.

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