In 1785, Glen Tilt had been the first of the key sites which evidenced geologist James Hutton’s Plutonism theory and revolutionised our concept of time. Hutton’s findings meant the glen was famous to scientists around the world. The behaviour of the 6th Duke of Athole in denying public access led Hugh Miller to write in 1847: “There is scarce in the Kingdom a better-known piece of roadway than that which runs through the glen” and that “if the Scottish people yield up to his Grace their right of way through Glen Tilt, they will richly deserve to be shut out of their country altogether”.
This old route is one of the great historical rights of way in Scotland. In 1847, a party of University of Edinburgh botany students led by John Hutton Balfour had an acrimonious encounter with the Duke of Athole and his ghillies. This resulted in a lengthy legal battle between the ScotWays and the Duke to establish the route’s status, a dispute which ultimately went to the House of Lords. Importantly, this case established that ScotWays could act on behalf of the general public in defence of public rights of way.
Atholl Estate dates back to the 13th century. The 145,000-acre estate employs around 75 full time and 60 seasonal staff and has a full-time Ranger.
Duke of Atholl is a title held by the head of Clan Murray and was created by Queen Anne in 1703 for John Murray. The Duke has the right to raise Europe’s only legal private army (The Atholl Highlanders), a unique privilege granted to his family by Queen Victoria after visiting the castle in 1844. The current Duke, Bruce George Ronald Murray is the 12th Duke of Atholl.