A NEW Jacobite trail following in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie ignores Prestonpans, where the Young Pretender enjoyed what many describe as his finest hour.

The tourism campaign, which has received £40,000 of funding from VisitScotland and will be launched in May, only features sites which are owned by its ‘partners’.

It does not include the 1745 Battle of Prestonpans, arguably the Jacobite’s most famous victory.

The Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust was dismayed by the decision to “ignore much of that heritage where it is cherished independently”.

It added: “Most regrettable, perhaps, is the assertion that what is on offer follows in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie. It does not.”

National Museums Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Royal Collection Trust and The National Trust for Scotland have joined forces to create the new trail of 25 properties and attractions throughout the country.

A new website – www.jacobitetrail.co.uk – has been created for the campaign.

The trail can be downloaded now, with further resources to be added. However, it does not mention Prestonpans, nor East Lothian, instead including just three sites under the Edinburgh and Lothians: the National Museum, Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle.

The trust said other sites not owned by the heritage groups partnering the project had also been dropped.

The Battle of Prestonpans took place on September 21, 1745, and was the first significant conflict in the Jacobite Rising of that year.

The victory over Government troops was a huge morale boost for the Jacobites.

The trust, which wants to create a battle visitors’ centre, said: “The tragedy is that this initiative channels yet more resources into the sites which already have the greatest capacity to promote themselves, leaving independent sites out in the cold.

“It isn’t just Prestonpans and Falkirk, where the Prince again triumphed in 1746: the Jacobite omissions include Sheriffmuir and important places such as Blair Castle, the West Highland Museum, the Cameron Museum at Achnacarry, Thirlestane Castle, Traquair House, the list goes on. It’s an instance of extremely poor partnership work, and shows a regrettable disjunction between the national heritage bodies and the independent local ones.

“In an era when the strategic direction is to encourage and support independent and community-driven heritage initiatives, it’s got the makings of a unnecessarily missed opportunity.

“Hopefully it’s not too late to get back on a sensible course and when the website gears up in May, a more appropriate and supportive representation will occur.”

Iain Gray, East Lothian MSP, said: “Frankly, a ‘Jacobite trail’ which does not include Prestonpans is just a joke.

“Some of the sites included have a pretty tenuous connection to the Jacobite rebellions compared to Prestonpans.

“It must be very dispiriting for the battlefield trust and others locally who have worked hard over the years to see this important historical site properly recognised, interpreted and publicised to be ignored like this.

“East Lothian Council too have worked very hard to increase visitor numbers and support tourism, and now we have a publicly funded tourism initiative which manages to snub the county in spite of our having the key historical site here in East Lothian.

“Visit Scotland owe us an explanation, and an apology.”

A spokesperson for VisitScotland said: “On the Trail of Bonnie Prince Charlie is a targeted tourism marketing campaign. Its primary focus is on a selection of properties and collections retained by partner bodies.

“VisitScotland has supported the campaign through the VisitScotland Growth Fund, which supports collaborative tourism marketing projects.

“The partner organisations and VisitScotland recognise the number of other locations, sites, organisations and people with fascinating and relevant connections to the Jacobite story and VisitScotland will continue to direct visitors to a wider scope of inspiring information in addition to that featured in the Jacobite Trail, so that all can benefit from the surge of interest in this fascinating period of Scotland’s history.”