Follow in the footsteps of famous folk hero and outlaw, Rob Roy MacGregor, on this seven day walk across the Southern Highlands.
Starting from Drymen on the West Highland Way, the route goes north east to finish in Pitlochry and is 77 or 94 miles in total, depending on the route taken. One of Scotland’s Great Trails, the walk follows paths and tracks used by Rob Roy in the 17th and 18th centuries. These paths were also used during the Jacobite uprisings and local clan feuds.
Passing through Aberfoyle, Callander, Strathyre, Killin or Amurlee and Aberfeldy, walkers will enjoy beautiful scenery from Loch Venachar, Loch Lubnaig and Loch Tay and will pass by Ben Ledi, Ben Lawers and Ben Chonzie.
The route opened in 2002 and crosses the Highland Boundary Fault – a geographical fault where the Highlands meets the Lowlands – which offers unparalleled views, so remember the camera.
Beginning in Drymen near the southern coast of Loch Lomond, the walk passes through the Loch Ard Forest to Aberfoyle then on through the Menteith Hills to Callander before heading upwards to the River Teith and Ben Ledi before following the shores of Loch Lubnaig to Strathyre. From here there’s a long stretch, which would be ideal for cyclists, that leads on to Lochearnhead village and crosses Glen Ogle to Killin. The route then climbs up into the hills and mountain paths before descending along the southern shores of Loch Tay to Acharn. For the final stretch walkers will enjoy a track that offers amazing views of Loch Tay before passing the Falls of Moness towards Aberfeldy, which then leads on to Pitlochry.
Despite including some mountain hikes, the walk is fairly straightforward and follows paths, tracks, cycle routes and minor roads in the glens making it perfect for beginners or those looking to enjoy the scenery without too strenuous a climb (the hikes do not include summits).
Where to stay
The Drymen Inn is a contemporary bar with en-suite accommodation, which will provide walkers with all they need before setting off. From home-cooked food and a drink or two, to comfortable beds in the modern rooms.
Continue the Rob Roy connection with a stay at Duchray Castle in Aberfoyle. This 500 year old accommodation has undergone a renovation to turn it into a luxurious retreat. Offering both self catering and B&B options, the Castle has a rich history that includes a visit from Rob Roy himself, who apparently hid there from a party of Redcoats who were looking for him. These days there is a Rob Roy Suite, if you fancy really treating yourself.
Abbotsford Lodge is a family-run guest house situation within Callander. Offering home-cooked meals, a wet room to dry rain soaked waterproofs and a range of well designed rooms, it’s a great choice if you’re stopping off in the picturesque town.
The Ben Sheann Hotel, a charming Victorian building, is located on the main street and offers comfortable accommodation, classic pub meals and a well-stocked bar. Rooms are nicely decorated and a stay includes breakfast. A family-run hotel, Ben Sheann offers an excellent location for a stopover in Strathyre.
Unwind from a day of walking in the traditional Falls of Dochart Inn, which overlooks the Falls of Dochart. A former blacksmiths dating from the late 1800’s, the inn is now a contemporary dwelling, with plenty of Scottish touches. The restaurant has a varied menu of traditional favourites and there’s a well-stocked whisky bar. Packed lunches can be arranged on request.
This charming town is a must visit whilst on route thanks to its many interesting shops, places to eat and accommodation. Balnearn House is situated on the edge of the town and a two minute walk from the Birks o’ Aberfeldy, a circular walk around the nearby woodlands. Balnearn House offers ten guest rooms and a range of breakfast options within its comfortable and cosy dining room. Afternoon tea can be arranged prior to a stay.
There’s a range of hotels, B&B’s and guest houses in this bustling tourist town meaning you can treat yourself to some luxury at the end of the walk. Fonab Castle and Spa is worth a visit for some rest and relaxation or enjoy some Scottish hospitality in a local B&B. For a good mix of both, check in to the Fishers Hotel, which is situated in the heart of the town. Offering lovely food and recently renovated accommodation for a reasonable price, Fishers is well placed for exploring Pitlochry and nearby places of interest.
Where to eat and drink
Each of the towns have a selection of cafes and pubs in which to enjoy local cuisine, which will usually be home-made fayre. There is also a good range of Scottish drinks, from single malts to gins and crafts beers.
A quirky deli/tea room on the main street in Drymen. Tuck into a full Scottish breakfast or stop for sandwiches, soups and sweet treats at lunchtime.
Local produce is in abundance at the traditional Faerie Tree Inn. Ideal for dinner or a hearty lunch, expect classic pub grub, sharing platters and pizza.
Ideal for lunch, Pip’s Coffee House serves up a selection of sandwiches, baked potatoes, home-made soup as well as delicious home-baking to be enjoyed with tea or coffee.
Broch Cafe will set you up for the day thanks to its breakfast rolls and Italian coffee, or pop in for home-made cakes and a hot drink, or an evening meal, after a day’s walk.
The Courie Inn is worth a visit even if you’re not staying there. The cosy atmosphere, modern Scottish and local food and drinks will make the inn an ideal pit stop for dinner. There’s also a good selection of veggie options on the menu.
Habitat Cafe offers a range of coffees, including a variety of brews, lunch options and home-baking plus a selection of veggie and vegan options, making it a popular lunchtime spot.
You’ll be spoiled for choice in Pitlochry thanks to its range of restaurants, cafes and hotels. Victoria’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop serves Italian, European and Scottish food with gluten free options. They also have a terrace which is popular on sunny days. For lunch try Hetty’s Tearoom and for a laid-back dinner, The Plaice to Be serves fresh fish and chips.
Avid stargazers will appreciate the lack of light pollution on this route, and may be lucky to spot the Northern Lights depending on the time of year.
Be sure to keep an eye out for local wildlife as this part of Scotland is home to red squirrels, deer, grouse and birds of prey.
The route passes many historical sites such as Roman forts and viaducts, crannogs, standing stones and stone circles and bridges built by the English during the Jacobite rebellion.
There are a few notable whisky and distilleries nearby, if you fancy sampling a dram or two. Not far from Pitlochry there is Scotland’s smallest distillery, Edradour Distillery. Dewars Aberfeldy and Glengoyne distilleries are on route and showcase some of the best of our national drink.
For beer lovers a trip to the Moulin Brewery, one of the first microbreweries in Scotland, is a must.
Rob Roy’s grave is located at Balquhidder (near Strathyre), at the foot of Loch Voil, so can be visited whilst on route.
If there’s been a downpour then don’t despair. This weather makes one of Scotland’s picturesque waterfalls more beautiful. The Bracklin Falls near Callander are well worth a visit.
Aberfoyle is home to the Scottish Wool Centre that stocks everything from whisky, wine and clothing. There is also a daily dog and duck show.
A trip to the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre, near Aberfoyle, is a great way to find out more about Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. There’s also a high wire tree top adventure for adrenaline junkies at Go Ape.
Things to do before you go
Pack for all weathers as Scotland is renowned for having all seasons in one day.
Insect repellent is a must, especially in the summer during midgie season.
Remember water, snacks and refreshments for along the way as some areas are obviously very remote.