Roaming the Rob Roy Way
By Megan Cowper
I work in the sales team here at Mickledore, which gives me the great job of being able to book clients on to the beautiful walking routes which we offer all over the UK. Since starting my role here I have been very eager to try out one of the routes for myself and I was delighted to be given the opportunity to walk the Rob Roy Way this summer. For many different reasons Scotland has always been a special place to me, I have very cherished memories of visiting the highlands not only as a child but over the last couple of years and so the chance to reminisce these memories walking through the southern highlands of Scotland was too good of an opportunity to miss.
One of the best parts about this experience was that my boyfriend Liam was able to join me on this holiday and although we are both keen walkers, this was something new for us and our first walking holiday together.
Day 1: The Journey up North
We started our journey up north to Scotland, we decided to drive to the last location on the route Pitlochry, so that after we completed our holiday we had the ease of driving home straight away. Once we arrived at Pitlochry, we took public transport down to Aberfoyle which was the starting point of our walk. This journey ran very smoothly and we even managed to get a small glimpse of the amazing scenery that we had to look forward to in the coming week. The official starting point of the Rob Roy Way is Drymen which is 10 miles south of Aberfoyle, however we opted for one of the shorter itineraries which suited our timescale perfectly.
Once we arrived at Aberfoyle we were greeted warmly by our accommodation hosts and arriving here early meant that we had lots of free time to explore around the village. After a few hours of exploring and trying out a few of the local pubs we arrived back at our accommodation and enjoyed some delicious food, excited for the week ahead of us.
Day 2: Aberfoyle to Strathyre
Not only was this our first walking day, this was also our longest walking day out of the whole week and as we sat down to eat our full Scottish breakfast, a challenging 19 miles lay ahead of us. After leaving our accommodation we were pleasantly surprised with the sunshine and blue skies that were above us, this was unexpected as we had packed for full Scottish rain. We proceeded to leave Aberfoyle and joined the trail of the Rob Roy Way.
Once we had joined the trail we emerged on to a woodland forest track, which was very peaceful and a great way to begin the long day of walking ahead of us. The forest trail soon led us alongside the beautiful Loch Venacher, which was a relatively flat path but soon elevated us up above the loch, providing us with stunning views over the loch and the mighty Ben Ledi in the distance.
We walked beside the loch until we had reached its southern shores and began to bypass the village of Callander, which is a small town located midway and a commonly used location to shorten this 19 mile day walk, however we carried on. The path took another change of scenery as we joined on to a flat old railway line track, which was also used by lots of cyclists. The old railway line sat right beside the river banks where we came across the perfect bench to have our lunch stop.
As we carried on alongside the river, it soon flowed away and transformed into the magnificent loch Lubnaig, also known as ‘the loch with a bend’. This loch was breathtaking to walk alongside next to and it was a great tourist hotspot as we observed so many people canoeing and sailing out on the loch as we walked by.
We carried on walking past the whole stretch of the loch before coming closer to our next destination of Strathyre, a small but charming little village. We rewarded ourselves by going straight to the local pub to celebrate accomplishing our first and longest walking day of the route. It was certainly a challenging day and despite our slightly sore feet, we were very excited for what the next week had in store for us.
Day 3: Strathyre to Killin
After a superb breakfast made by our lovely B&B hosts, we set off on the second day of our adventure along The Rob Roy Way. Within the first few minutes of leaving Strathyre and entering a path through the woods, we saw our first red squirrel of the week climbing above us in the trees.
The trail ascended gradually through the woods and forest where we had amazing views over the tall trees and hills. It wasn’t long before we came downhill again and connected with another old railway track which we walked on for some miles, this was another popular track for cyclists. This was relatively flat at first however we were soon walking uphill to join a higher railway line platform.
We enjoyed the views over the beautiful Loch Earn to our right as we walked along the old railway line.
After a few miles of walking along the old railway line, we approached the Glen Ogle viaduct where we decided would be the perfect place to stop for our lunch. As we sat down to take in the scenery around us, we were surprised by a group of mountain goats chilling beneath the viaduct. Watching the family of goats for a couple of minutes was one of the highlights from the whole day.
We continued on the railway path which eventually veered into another forestry track where our next destination was in sight, only a few remaining miles away. Once we arrived at Killin, we were immediately captivated by the river of Dochart and the sight of tourists gathering around the river banks. We were told by locals that a family of beavers live in this river and that many tourists will crowd around the banks hoping to see them. The day concluded with dinner at the local Inn next to the river, where afterwards we had a walk by hoping to get a glimpse of the beaver family but unfortunately we were not lucky this time.
Day 4: Killin to Ardtalnaig
Fueled by yet another great breakfast we set off on our third day of walking, unaware that this day would provide us with our favourite views along the entire route. We left Killin and commenced our trek following an uphill track which soon emerged us through the woods.
Looking back towards the amazing views over the high Scottish mountains and woodland forest, we had a great viewpoint of Ben More, the highest point in Stirlingshire.
After a few miles of elevating between the mountains we were soon approaching the impressive Breaclaich dam which came in to our sight in the distance. Behind the dam, Loch Breaclaich was sitting peacefully, we learnt that this small dam provides a major power source to the local area and drives three separate power stations.
After passing both the dam and loch, our journey along the path led us past an old quarry site and around a bend, revealing the stunning mountain scenery that became one of my favourite views from the entire route.
After descending down the path, we saw our first glimpses of Loch Tay in the far distance. We followed some perfectly located yellow marked sign posts to help us navigate our way towards the loch, the path was easily camouflaged within the grassy slopes so these way markers helped us find our path down.
It was during our descent towards Loch Tay that we encountered our first highland cow of the week, which added a touch of the true highlands to our experience.
Once we had reached the narrow road beside Loch Tay, we followed the last section of the journey towards Ardtalnaig, a tiny hamlet on the shores of the loch. Following the road with the view of the loch to our left was a perfect way to end a great day of walking and looking back possibly my favourite walking day of the week.
Day 5: Ardtalnaig – Aberfeldy
This morning’s journey began with a transfer back to Ardtalnaig to resume our walk, as we had stayed a second night at our accommodation at Killin. Once we arrived back in Ardtalnaig we continued on the narrow road which ran along next to the south of Loch Tay, possibly one of the biggest lochs I had ever seen. Again, we were very lucky with the weather and the blue skies reflecting off the loch made our views for the first couple of miles spectacular.
After a few miles and once we were almost at the end of the loch we turned off at a small hamlet called Acharn, known for its waterfall and cascades. We followed the gravelly road uphill and soon on our left we saw ‘Hermits Cave’ where we couldn’t resist but go inside and explore. Inside the cave it follows through a long dark tunnel and where another opening leads out to the viewing platform for the Falls of Acharn, but due to the lack of rainfall that had been there recently, it was more of a trickle rather than a waterfall.
We left the cave and after a few minutes we stumbled across more viewing platforms revealing further amazing views over the cascades.
Once we had left the viewing platform areas, we left the wooded area and joined a grass track leading us over the hills with some incredible views over the mountains and the end of Loch Tay in the distance behind us. We followed this path for a few miles, with some perfectly located Rob Roy Way signs keeping us on the right track.
As we could see our next destination of Aberfeldy approaching in the distance, the path took us slightly away from the town and up towards the path of the ‘Birks of Aberfeldy’, a wooded gorge. As we walked downhill past the gorge, we experienced several viewing platforms which looked over the falls of Moness Burn, this was a great way to end such a superb day of walking. After leaving the wooded area, we walked into the small market town of Aberfeldy which is certainly worth a look around once arrived.
Day 6: Aberfeldy – Pitlochry
For the first time all week we woke up to heavy rain, but we were lucky as this was our last walking day so we didn’t mind our boots getting wet. Soon after leaving Aberfeldy we joined a peaceful riverside path beside the river Tay, which was something a bit different to what we had experienced during the previous few days.
Although the rain was coming down we became sheltered by some trees as the path left the riverside. We continued on this path until we reached the small village of Strathtay, which was the perfect place for a midpoint coffee and a little shelter from the rain. From here we turned uphill beside a golf course, and the weather also took a turn as we began walking in to the fog. Every so often glimpses of the distant mountains would catch our eyes, which undoubtedly on a clear day would have provided a stunning backdrop to this section of the walk.
We encountered further rainfall during our final stretch towards Pitlochry, as our finish line was in sight we were hit by an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. Although the weather wasn’t on our side during the last day we were sad that our journey was coming to an end. As we passed over the bridge to the town center we proceeded to go and celebrate our achievement of completing our Rob Roy Way experience.
Day 7: Rest day in Pitlochry
We decided to end our holiday with a rest day in Pitlochry, a perfect location to explore what the local area had to offer. Of course the first thing we went to do was visit the notorious fish ladder, a fascinating structure which helps salmon migrate upstream from the River Tummel to Loch Faskally. This is situated alongside the Pitlochry dam which is in place to generate electricity to the surrounding areas. It was very interesting to walk along the dam and we even managed to spot some salmon jumping out of the river, afterwards we explored the visitor center which helps explain why the dam and fish ladder is in place and how it helps the annual migration of the salmon.
Since we were in Scotland, we couldn’t resist going to the local distillery and trying some of the locally distilled Blair Athol Whiskey. This was a great activity and we really enjoyed sampling the local produce which certainly added some authenticity to our experience in Scotland. We definitely recommend booking a tour in advance, as we found that the tours do get booked up very quickly.
Overall, what I enjoyed the most about walking The Rob Roy Way is how each day is a different experience, from the scenic landscapes to the diverse terrain this route really does have it all and there are certainly no two days the same. The Scottish highlands truly are beautiful and this is brilliantly showcased along this route. If you’d like to know more about the Rob Roy Way, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can email us [email protected] or call 017687 72335, we’d be delighted to hear from you.