Cycling through Scotland: What has changed since my ancestors lived there?

As I continue to travel virtually with Street View and cycle on my stationary bike through the countryside of Scotland where my three-greats-grandparents once lived, I ask: What has changed?

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DateDistance Traveled (minutes)From/To
Jan 2020Auchleven to Keig
Jan 2220Auchleven to Keig
Jan 2420Keig
Total Distance since Dec 30, 2021 250 minutes

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My three-greats-grandfather, John Clark, was born in Keig in about 1793, according to his military record. Between 1851 and 1861, he emigrated from Scotland to Nova Scotia, Canada. But modern Keig looks very little like a 18th century village. Keig today is a series of relatively modern houses along a asphalt country highway.

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There is one old church and associated cemetery, down a short side road. The church was built in 1834, before my relatives left Insch for Canada, so they may have known this church.

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They may also have known the much older church ‘nearby’ which the 1934 church replaced. To see some photos of the remains of this old church, see https://canmore.org.uk/site/18056/keig-old-parish-church-and-burial-ground

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There are maps of the old layout of Keig. The Ordinance Survey of Scotland (First Series) done in 1856 shows what has changed in 160 plus years. It is fun to follow the 1856 roads on the modern map and see how old farmsteads have survived (often rebuilt) until today. To see this old map, visit

https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/maps/sheet/first_edition/1856-95sheet76

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So what is the same? The landscape probably has not changed and John Clark would recognize the terrain of the flat valley and distant hills. The course of the River Don and the Keig Burn are basically the same. The road pattern of 1956 is still visible on the landscape, although some roadways have fallen into disuse and some new roads have been built. The crossing of the River Don is at the same location. Curiously, the 1856 map shows the old church closer to the river and does not show the 1834 church. A landmark known as Castle Forbes is on both 1856 map and the modern map. A ‘stone circle’ marked on modern maps is not noted on the older map.

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Comparing old and new maps is one aspect of genealogy I enjoy. It gives hints about how much has changed and about what would still be familiar if my ancestors traveled forward through time.

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Enjoy your own exercise routine!

Alexandra

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stationary cycle and virtual travel

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DateDistance (Minutes)from/to
January 1120Insch to Auchleven
January 1320Auchleven
January 1520road to Keig
January 1720road to Keig
January 1920road to Keig
cumulative total (since Dec. 30/21)190

Continuing on my virtual travel in Scotland while on my Stationary Bike at home: this week I cycled every second day and increased my time to 20 minutes per session. Travel in the country side is very much like travel here in New Brunswick.

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Along the road are plants that seem familiar. This is probably a relative of our fireweed.

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Along the road are plantations of what I think must be Christmas trees. Acres and acres of Christmas trees.

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Back Burn near Auchleven

Crossed a couple of streams, called Burns.

Occasionally I see forested areas and I love the older, bigger trees. Perhaps some were there in the 1700s when my ancestors lived here.

On Friday, I will reach Keig, a possible birthplace of my third great-grandfather John Clarke.

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Stay well,

Alexandra

virtual tour: Insch Scotland

I’ve had fun looking around the streets of Insch, Scotland for three days of biking.

DateDistance (minutes)from/to
Dec 3015
Jan 115
Jan 315Insch
Jan 515Insch
Jan 715Insch
Insch to Auchleven

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Insch is a residential village, full of older homes. I saw an old church and graveyard, and lots of tree-lined streets. The main river flowing through the village is The Shevock. There is a castle ruin (Dunnideer Castle) south of Insch.

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The 15 minutes of cycling goes very fast when you are busy looking around a town!

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Dunnideer Castle ruin

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Next biking will be on the way to Keig, Scotland, by way of Auchleven.

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All my best,

Alexandra

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virtual biking in Scotland

When I am stationary cycling, it is always a challenge to alleviate boredom. Of course, I can read or edit, but sometimes my eyes are tired, or the light is not quite right. By far the best activity during biking is to take a virtual tour of any countryside. In the past, I have cycled through France, Cornwall, Southern Ireland and northern New Brunswick. All virtually, using Google and Street View.

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This time I decided to tour a part of Scotland. My third great-grandmother, Jane Cooper (1799 to 1887), came from Scotland. She married my third great-grandfather, John Clark (1793 to 1855?), from Insch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1822. I have never been to Scotland, so I thought I’d use this biking tour to bike the roads they may have once walked.

I decided to start my tour in Insch, Scotland and after a look-around there, work my way to Kaig, Aberdeenshire and north to Fyvie, Aberdeenshire (I have found a military record showing John Clarke was born in Kaig, southwest of Insch; I also found the 1851 Census for Scotland, listing Jane’s birthplace as Fyvie, Aberdeenshire).

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Today I started in Insch, biking to the edges of the village. The countryside is rural, agricultural, not that different from the area where I live.

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In Insch, the charming stone and wood construction I’ve seen elsewhere in England dominates. A great way to start my tour.

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Off I go!

All my best to you in your wellness journey!

Alexandra