A few miles north of Stirling is Dunblane, a small town made famous by Andy Murray, Scotland's most accomplished tennis player, yet sadly known as the location of a tragic mass shooting that took place more than two decades ago. Just a 15-minute walk from the train station is the area of Kippenross - a central point in the Jane Stirling Project. It was in this very place that Chopin's benefactress was born and it was this very location that Chopin failed to visit. Too bad for him. Had he accepted Jane Stirling's invitation, he would have enjoyed the opportunity to admire what Susan Stirling-Aird calls "the most beautiful place in Scotland". And indeed, so it is.
New Kippenross House. Photo: Jakub Orłowski
New Kippenross House. Photo: Jakub Orłowski

I came to Dunblane for the first time in 2015 during my initial expedition with Marek, following in the footsteps of Frederic Chopin in Scotland. We did not enjoy the luxury of a rental car at that time. It was on foot or by means of public transport that we made our way to the places we wished to visit. Luckily enough, one can get to Dunblane by railway, whose tracks were laid as early as in 1849, a year after Chopin's stay in the area.  

After visiting the magnificent Dunblane Cathedral, with a skimpy map in our hands and limited knowledge of the town and its neighbouring areas, we began our search for traces of Frederic Chopin and Jane Stirling in the vicinity of the train station. We had two objectives in mind - the Kippendavie House and the Kippenross House. As it turned out a couple of hours later, the former is there no more. The latter, however, certainly is, majectically standing over the banks of the Allan Water. We were not able to see it that easily, though. Trying to enter the area from the side of the Old Kippenross House, we were successfully discouraged by the man in the lodge, who claimed no such house stood there any more. It seems he did his job with an adequate degree of commitment, as apparently required by the Stirling-Airds, who were later to become our friends. 

Susan Stirling-Aird's description of Kippenross was no overstatement. Indeed, it does exhibit an abundance of esthetic value. Enormous trees towering over the park are a reminder of all those years that the history of this place embraces. And the sinuous Allan Water proudly flowing across the bottom of Kippenross with the blissfully browsing sheep over its eastern bank suggests this place must have looked just the same two hundred years ago. Was it there that Jane Stirling spent her pastime contemplating the next meeting with Chopin or planning his next concert? It could have been, but I cannot be sure. The only witness would have been the Scottish larches, a few broken trees, and the stones in the river that have been there for centuries.>>>


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