Welcome to The Trossachs
Less than five hundred years ago The Trossachs appertained to only a small wooded glen bordered by Ben A'an to the north, Loch Achray to the east, Ben Venue to the south and Loch Katrine to the west. Over the centuries the name began to refer to a much wider area. Today, the Trossachs is bordered by the Crianlarich Hills and Balquhidder in the north and Aberfoyle and the Loch Ard forest in the south, while the shores of Loch Lomond mark its westernmost boundaries and Callander its easternmost. The area includes mountains, hills and glens, seven major lochs and many more small lochs, a rich variety of scenery as well as some picturesque towns, such as Callander, Strathyre and Aberfoyle. In 2002 the opening of the 'Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park' was seen as recognition of the value of preserving this largely unspoiled landscape.
More than with any other character from Scotland's history The Trossachs is associated with Rob Roy MacGregor (1661-1734). Indeed, one unofficial name for the Trossachs is 'Rob Roy Country'. Rob Roy was many things: a patriot, a soldier, an entrepreneur, a rustler, an outlaw and a folk hero. He was born in Glengyle, on the northern shores of Loch Katrine. His father was a clan chief and from his mother he inherited his red hair and hence his name: Rob Ruadh (Gaelic for Red) was later anglicised into Rob Roy. His first appearance in Scottish history was in 1689 when he fought, aged 18, alongside his father in the battle of Killiecrankie as part of the Jacobite army against government forces. Although the Jacobites won the battle the ultimate failure of the uprising led to the MacGregor name being outlawed. Taking his mother's name of Campbell he set up in business as a drover, driving cattle to the market in Crieff. The 17th century cattle trade in Scotland was a dangerous business but Rob Roy's savvy and famed swordsmanship made him successful and wealthy; eventually he became the laird of Inversnaid, on the east side of Loch Lomond.
All this changed in 1693 when Rob Roy's chief drover disappeared with one thousand pounds borrowed from the Duke of Montrose. Holding Rob Roy responsible, the Duke had him outlawed, seized his lands and had him and his family evicted. The legends of Rob Roy as an outlaw emerge from this time. In revenge, Rob Roy began raiding the Duke's lands, stealing money and cattle. He even succeeded in kidnapping the Duke's factor, who was carrying over three thousand pounds in rent at the time. Rob Roy began to develop a protection racket at the expense of The Trossachs' fearful landowners: the term 'blackmail' is said to come from the 'black meal' (a form of cattle feed) he extorted from his unwilling sponsors. At the same time the Duke's enemies were more than happy to aid the wily highlander in his vendetta. Rob Roy's knowledge of the country made him an ideal aid to the Jacobite armies of the 1715 uprising, who used him as a guide. However, after this not only was he an outlaw but had a price on his head for treason. He was hunted down by the authorities, captured several times but always managed to make daring, now legendary, escapes. When, in 1723, Daniel Defoe's book on Rob Roy ("Highland Rogue") was published, he had been an outlaw for thirty years. The book made Rob Roy a living legend and partly as a result of popular pressure he was pardoned in 1726. He lived out the rest of his years quietly in Balquhidder, where he now rests in peace in the Old Kirk's graveyard.
Following the 'Rob Roy Way', a 79 mile walk between Drymen and Pitlochry, one can visit many of the places associated with the Highland Rogue and get a good overall view of the Trossachs. However, there are countless routes for exploring this beautiful landscape. A more leisurely way to get a flavour of the area is to take a trip up and down Loch Katrine onboard the 100 year old pleasure steamer, The Walter Scott. One does not need to be interested in Rob Roy to enjoy the varied scenery and wildlife of the area. The Trossachs are home to some of Britain's most rugged mountains and picturesque lakes. For breathtaking views, it doesn't get much better than this.