Balquhidder is little more than a village, yet it draws visitors from across the world because of its association with Rob Roy. The intrepid outlaw is buried in the churchyard, under the crumbling ruins of the old 17th century church. The grave is simple, with a low iron railing, and you can get as close to it as you wish. The inscription at the head of the grave says it all; "MacGregor despite them". Beside are the graves of Rob Roy's wife and two of their four sons, Coll and Robin. It seems likely that the gravestones were reused, for they appear to be of a much earlier date than the death of the MacGregors would indicate.
The story of Robin MacGregor is a strange one. He killed a MacLaren of Invernenty in a land dispute, but escaped punishment, but later he was found guilty of kidnapping a wealthy widow and was hanged in Edinburgh. He was brought back to Balquhidder in ceremony and laid in the grave of his brother Coll.
Legend tells that oldest church here was built on the grave of St Angus, a 7th or 8th century monk who built an oratory, or cell, in the field below the church. A newer kirk was then built in 1631 by David Murray, Lord Scone, whose initials can be seen above the door. This is the church that Rob Roy would have attended - if indeed he attended church at all, which we do not know. One of the most famous vicars of Balquhidder was Robert Kirk (see Aberfoyle), and Kirk's wife is buried here. Lord Scone's church is now little more than crumbling walls, a victim of damp and decay.
In 1855 the new building was built on a small rise just above the older church. The church was built by David Carnegie, laird of Stronvar, whose grave and those of his family lie in the ruins of the old church. Inside the Victorian building, the most immediately striking thing to meet your gaze is the font. This is a huge, rough stone bowl, which may date to the days of St Angus, or possibly even to pre-Christian times. The bowl was found when the 1631 church was demolished. It had been built into the wall of the church.
Creag an Tuirc
There is much more to Balquhidder than Rob Roy's grave, however. Just a short walk through the woods behind the church brings you to a lovely little waterfall on Kirkton Burn. Its a beautiful spot, though certainly not a spectacular cascade. But the best is yet to come. Take a fork in the path back to the church, and begin to climb the slopes above the village. The way is generally easy, and if you come in spring or summer you will see wildflowers growing on the hillsides, and rowan trees showing off their berries.
A climb of some 20 minutes brings you to ‘Creag an Tuirc’ (Rock of the Boar). A cairn marks the spot where clan MacLaren assembled in times of trouble. When danger threatened the clan, runners would spread the word to all the clansmen, who would gather their weapons and make haste to reach this spot high on the slopes over Balquhidder.
Two popular walking trails lead through or near Balquhidder. The Coast to Coast Walk from Oban to St Andrews and the Rob Roy Way, which stretches from Drymen to Pitlochry, are both easily accessible from the village.
Most people come to Balquhidder, view Rob Roy's grave, and return to the A84 at Kinghouse. But if you do that, you'll miss a treat. Instead, carry on up the narrow road that leads along the northern shore of Loch Voil to Loch Doine. The scenery is spectacular, though the way is narrow, and you'll have to keep a close eye out for oncoming traffic. To the north the hills rise to the Braes of Balquhidder, made famous in the song of the same name by Robert Tannahill.
The road ends just beyond the western tip of Loch Doine, just beyond where a traditional burial ground of Clan MacLaren is situated above the shore. If you carry on to the very end of the road you will find Inverlochlarig, where a farmhouse stands on the site of Rob Roy's house. This is such a peaceful, timeless spot, the hustle and bustle of the world at large seems unimportant and very far away. There are several hotels and rental cottages along the shores of Balquhidder, making it a nice place for a peaceful holiday.
Killin and the Falls of Dochart