Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Travel: Walk in the footsteps of mighty clans at Kinloch Rannoch

The iconic Schiehallion in Perthshire
The iconic Schiehallion in Perthshire

The heavens open as we pull off the busy A9 heading for Dunalastair Estate and beyond to its namesake hotel in the pretty little village of Kinloch Rannoch in Perthshire.

We’re on the General Wade Military Road, one of a network dreamed up in the 18th Century by the general – Commander in Chief of North Britain – as part of a British Government attempt to keep fearsome Scots at bay after the Jacobite uprising of 1715.

“Well that didn’t work,” quips McDonald Jr as I end my wee history lecture. “Dad’s mob were back up and at ’em again 30 years later,” she says with a wicked grin and a nod to the second rising of 1745, ignoring the fact that it ended in tears.

Kinloch Rannoch

We’ve reached this point from a single track through deserted moorland. There’s not another vehicle in sight and, with the speeding traffic of the motorway now a distant memory, it feels as though we’ve hurtled back in time.

This is Outlander country – the realm of Clan Donnachaidh and of the MacDonalds, MacGregors, MacDougalls, Menzies, Camerons and Stuarts. And it’s spectacular. Little wonder it’s a go-to location for the film and TV industry. Liam Neeson, as the Clan Chief Rob Roy (MacGregor) in the eponymous 1995 movie, springs to mind. Partly shot on the Great Moor of Rannoch, to the west of the village and one of the last great wildernesses in Europe, MacGregor’s cave sits just above Dunalastair Water. Not far from the spot, on private Dunalastair Estate is the site of Craigh na Dun, the fictitious stone circle where Outlander’s time-travelling heroine Claire is thrown back to the 1700s. It’s an eerily quiet spot but the magic of the place is palpable.

The estate itself has a history worthy of the big screen. The great Jacobite poet and 13th Chieftain of Clan Donnachaidh, Alexander Robertson of Struan (1669-1749) – with a hat-trick of Jacobite battles under his belt – had his home burnt to the ground by government troops after the 1745.

General John Macdonald bought the estate in 1853 and built a baronial mansion there which is now a ruin, but its outer walls and soaring towers still stand. MacDonald also built part of Kinloch Rannoch, including the MacDonald Arms Hotel, now the Dunalastair Suites, our luxurious five-star hotel.

Dramatically flanked by the Allt Mor waterfall that tumbles down Meall Dubh and Loch Rannoch, a mystical 440ft deep, 10-mile expanse of tranquil water stretching to the Bridge of Gaur, it sits in the shadow of Schiehallion, which, at 3,553ft, is dubbed “the beginner’s Munro”.

Dunalastair Reservoir

Once a Victorian hunting lodge, the hotel has had a multi-million-pound makeover resulting in an interior that oozes contemporary style and comfort. We enjoyed its Flagship Suite with a chic and sumptuous bedroom and a separate lounge with dining area and modern kitchenette – glorious!

The hotel’s Monadh restaurant, staying true to the seasons, sources its ingredients from the finest of Scotland’s farms and fisheries and promises, “fine dining without the fuss”. Good to their word, we feasted on King scallops and rack of lamb and felt completely pampered by attentive staff. High standards of service are the norm here. As he mixes mocktails, South African deputy general manager Denzil Arendse, 34, revealed he had “looked after” friends of the late President Nelson Mandela at the opulent Saxon Hotel, among them Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman and Bono.

There’s so much to see and do in and around Loch Rannoch. Nearby Aberfeldy-based Highland Safaris and Red Deer Centre can arrange for guests to be picked up from their hotel by helicopter and taken on an exclusive VIP Land Rover excursion with a personal kilted ranger. Just one of a range of activities – like panning for gold – to suit all ages and pockets.

© Courtesy Unknown
Dunalastair Hotel Suites

Blairgowrie-based Outdoor Explore offer guided kayaking on Loch Rannoch. Mains of Taymouth Estate has riding stables, a nine-hole golf course, eatery and shop. And Pitlochry Festival Theatre has re-opened after almost a two-year hiatus with an exciting line up of shows.

But we’re off on the loch’s Clan Trail. On the north side, among the oak trees is “the Grove” where many MacDonalds were hanged, the last in 1745. McDonald Jr is not impressed.


Starting rate for a room at Dunalastair Hotel Suites is £179 including breakfast. Visit or call (01882) 580444.

P.S. The Rannoch Highland Gathering takes place in August and has run every year since 1881 (world wars and pandemics aside). I t includes heavy events, piping and Highland dancing.