ROB ROY COUNTRY
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Looking east along Balquhidder
Glen past Lochs Doine and Voil.
The vantage is the south flank of Stob Binnean above Inverlochlarig.
Rob Roy MacGregor farmed this land with his family and served as the
FIRST APPEARED IN FEBRUARY, 2002. EXPANDED
2010 & LAST UPDATED 2014.
Scenic Reasons for a
Scottish National Park
One of the first very visible
public works of national scale to begin during the new era of Scottish autonomy
development of a national park in central Scotland. The park, "Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park", encloses
approximately 600 square miles of beautiful mountain and lake territory north and
northeast of Glasgow. The park encloses many towns and villages, including several
Home At First has sent guests for many years:
Strathyre, Lochearnhead, Killin, and Callander.
While the controversial plan raised doubts
in the minds of some local citizens, there has never been any doubt about the scenic treasures the park
protects and promotes.
WORTHY OF NATIONAL PARK STATUS
The citizens of Balquhidder and
many other settlements in Central Scotland have reason to be concerned. Loch Lomond &
Trossachs National Park, Scotland's first national park, has
focused international attention on the remarkably scenic and fragile
region of lakes and mountains north and northeast of Glasgow.
Other areas of Scotland are more
remote. Other areas of Scotland are much less settled. Other areas of
Scotland are true wilderness.
Looking east down
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The national park, established in
part to protect the region from uncontrolled development,
has the potential to create more development by bringing attention to
the region. The very possibility of rapid development under the control
Authority bureaucrats in Edinburgh
is, for many affected residents, more frightening
than the status quo. So far, at least, the fears have not been realized, as the
broad economic slowdown of the early 21st century has certainly held
many plans for development in check.
THE PRISTINE PRESENT
The future may still be in doubt, but the present is
certain: there is great natural beauty in this wonderfully convenient part of Scotland.
cyclists can still experience the scenic wonders
of the region privately, intimately. There are lovely, remote glens to explore, and some
of Britains highest mountains to climb. There are grand views of pristine lochs from
the hilltops. And there are no crowds, no concessions, and no entrance fees.
Rob Roy's grave
at Balquhidder Church
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A look at the map,
suggests the area west of Balquhidder leading into the mountains and towards the northern
tip of Loch Lomond is likely rugged, scenic, and unpopulated. The map is correct.
country, where the famous MacGregor outlaw lived, ran cattle (his and others), sheriffed,
died (surprisingly, of natural causes), and is buried. Remarkably, despite the notoriety
of Rob Roy, few tourists go beyond the Rob Roy Centre in Callander and his gravesite in
Balquhidder churchyard. To get a real sense of the man and his environment, one need only
go west of Balquhidder.
Drive (slowly!) the one-lane paved road west
from Balquhidder Village Hall along the north shore of Lochs Voil and Doine. If there is
no wind, the lochs can mirror the rounded green and rust hills to the south.
Watch for the pink (!) house on the
right that is the
(and hillwalkers bar). This small, remote way station is a top-ranked Scottish restaurant. If you dont get a chance to have a meal there, at
least make plans to stop for drink after walking. The hillwalkers bar is beyond
cozy its tiny and theres no avoiding sharing adventures with other
walkers over a pint or a dram.
You may not notice Loch Doine, which
in wet times is a continuation of Loch Voil, and in dry times is
connected to Loch Voil by a small stream. Nevertheless, west of the
water you arrive at the signed parking place near the entrance to
Inverlochlarig Farm, the largest estate in the Balquhidder Glen,
encompassing the former farmland of Rob Roy MacGregor. The parking place
is the start point for walks in all directions. Many climbers head north
across the stile and up the south flank of Stob Binnein (1165m, 18th
highest peak in Scotland) toward Ben More, the dominant mountain in the region and, at 1174m
(3,851 ft), 16th highest peak in Scotland.
If climbing the rarified heights of
Stob Binnein and Ben More is
not for everyone, following the trail out of the south end of the car park and then west
along the stream (River Larig) is truly walking for everyone.
WHAT TO BRING
Remember to carry the following things, even if you plan a leisurely stroll:
Something to eat and drink.
Raingear or (less helpful) an umbrella.
Sun protection & sunglasses (lets be
Layers to put on and take off: sweater,
windbreaker, gloves, jacket or mackintosh.
Ordnance Survey Pathfinder (1:25000) Series Sheets NN
41/51 and NN 21/31 or Landranger (1:50000) Series Sheets 50, 51, & 57 all apply,
although not one map covers all the territory of western Balquhidder Glen. At the very
least, refer to the Home At First map
weve designed before heading
After crossing a bridge, the trail becomes a
rough, unpaved road, and takes off due west toward the hills at the end of the glen. In
5-10 minutes the road wanders through the farmhouses and barns at the Inverlochlarig Farm,
then continues west, crossing a style, staying north of and parallel to the steam (River
Larig). Now every step leads further from civilization, the last outpost of which is the
farm. The road clambers up and down, following the topography and following the stream,
Late December west of
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crossing numerous tributaries on its way west.
casual walkers, the road is the thing. Follow it until you have had enough exercise,
enough splendid scenery, enough of a sense of the majesty of remote Scotland, then turn
around. The hills are largely rounded bald-tops: sometimes golden, sometimes brown,
sometimes russet, sometimes purple with heather, always begging you to stop and gawk or
take another photo.
There is no shortage of picnic spots along the way. You will see
animals, too mostly sheep but there will be some cattle, too, and maybe you will
see large red deer or small roe deer, ptarmigan (grouse), pheasants, hawks, or even an eagle.
RESPECT FOR THE
LAND AND PROPERTY
Be kind to the environment, here. Stay to the
road or on obvious trails. Dont bother the animals. Take special care not to disturb the sheep during the
lambing season in the spring. Take all your litter home. Remember, you are guests on
private land, which will be welcome to guests only if the guests respect the land and its
If the walking west of Inverlochlarig is fine
for casual walkers, it is even better for the dedicated day hiker and the long-distance
overnight hiker. In
we suggest walks for the experienced, properly-equipped day-hiker and