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Day 4 - Balquhidder to Killin



Summary

Distance

18km (11.25 miles)

Total ascent

550m (1800ft)

Time

6-7 hours

Download Route PDF

This part of the Ring of Breadalbane long distance walk starts at Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave in Balquhidder and visits the rallying point of Clan MacLaren, whose lands were plundered by the MacGregors. It finishes by the burial ground in Killin of Clan Macnab, who held the country to the east.

This section is one of the more challenging parts of the walk, with the route climbing to nearly 600m/200 feet above sea level to cross a mountain pass where some navigation is necessary. The reward is some wild scenery and wonderful views. Having descended into Glen Dochart the last third of the walk is fairly level along a disused railway line.

Tell us about your Rings of Breadalbane.

Highlights

  • Balquhidder has been a religious site since Neolithic times. Beside the Parish Church is the Old Church, which stands on the burial site of St Angus, who brought Christianity to the area, recognising it as a ‘thin place’ where the spiritual and earthly worlds come close together.
  • Rob Roy MacGregor’s Grave at Balquhidder Church, where the folk hero was buried beside his wife and two of his sons in 1734. Despite being an outlaw for much of his life, he died peacefully aged 63.
  • Creag an Tuirc, ‘rock of the boar’, a splendid viewpoint overlooking Balquhidder & Loch Voil, which is the meeting place of the Clan McLaren, who acquired the surrounding lands in the 9th century.
  • Rob Roy’s Putting Stone, a giant boulder at the base of Creag an Eireannaich, which is said to be where MacGregor and his men hid from their enemies.
  • Lochan an Eireannaich, the high ‘loch of the irishman’, is thought to be a reference to 5th century Irish missionaries who lived in the area.
  • Falls of Dochart, where the river cascades down a series of rock steps and flows under the Bridge of Dochart, which was rebuilt in 1831 after being partly demolished by a flood.

Essential Info

 

Section no.

4

Section name

Balquhidder to Killin

Start

Balquhidder, road sign for Rob Roy’s Grave: NN536208

Finish

Killin, Falls of Dochart Inn: NN571324

Grade

Fairly hard; significant climb involved and hill navigation skills needed

Distance

18km (11.25 miles)

Total ascent

550m (1800ft)

Highest point

590m (1935ft)

Time

6-7 hours

Terrain

Forest tracks to a high pass through the hills, where there is only a faint moorland path over rough, wet ground, then a track along a disused railway line through Glen Dochart.

Variations

This is a commiting route, but it can be shortened by descending to the A85 road at Ledcharrie (keep ahead under the railway bridge at point 5). Transport would need to be prearranged.

Driving to the start

Leave the A84 where signed for Balquhidder, follow the minor road for 2 miles to the village then look for the sign for Rob Roy’s Grave. There is a small car park up the drive on the right, in front of the churchyard.

Public transport

The nearest scheduled bus service (C60 Callander to Killin) stops 2 miles from the start on the A84 near the Kingshouse Hotel (now called Mhor 84) and near Manse Road on Main Street in Killin. Demand Responsive Transport (a taxi Service at bus fare prices) is available in this area, phone Highland Glen Travel on 01567 830388 24 hours in advance to make a booking.

The Ring of Breadalbane Explorer Bus stops at Killin from 1st June to 19th October on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.

Refreshments

No refreshments available before the finish at the Falls of Dochart Inn. Several other places to eat and drink or buy food are the other side of the bridge in Killin.

1st Leg

Start at: NN536208

From the road walk up the drive to Rob Roy’s Grave, which is to the left in the churchyard, in front of the ruined chapel. Return out of the churchyard and cross the drive to a walks notice board. Take the track to the left of the notice board and soon come to a Forestry Commission sign for Kirkton Glen. (To view a pretty waterfall, take short detour just before the sign: to the left and up Kirkton Burn to a footbridge). Continue past the Forestry Commission sign and follow the track steeply uphill.

At the first junction, beside a high metal fence, turn right on a track to Creag an Tuirc, continuing to the end then going through a wooden gate and up through Scots pine trees onto the rocky knoll. Return the same way to the main track and turn right to continue uphill.

Follow the track for 5.6km (3.5 miles) up the glen, keeping straight ahead at all junctions and staying on the right hand side of Kirkton Burn. The gradient soon lessens and the forest becomes more open so that there are views of the surrounding hills, including the prominent cliff face of Leum an Eireannaich, ‘Irishman’s Leap’, below which the route passes.

Near the head of the glen, the track divides – here follow the main track as it sweeps around to the right to return down the glen at a higher level. On the bend, just before the track crosses a burn, turn left up a small path between trees by a green sign for ‘Glen Dochart path’.

2nd Leg

Start at: NN523237

The narrow path climbs steeply between young trees to the fence at the top of the forest. Here go a short distance left, across a burn, to a stile. The path continues uphill across grassy moorland, levelling off in an amphitheatre below a craggy knoll at the head of the glen, where it becomes very vague. Now head uphill to the right and after crossing a small stream turn left and follow it towards Rob Roy’s Putting Stone, a tree-topped boulder the size of a house.

Pass below the looming cliffs of Leum an Eireannaich and keep ahead over a slight rise to teardrop-shaped Lochan an Eireannaich, a great lunch spot. Skirt the northern tip of the loch and go through a gap between two ancient metal fence posts at the top of the pass.

There is now a long descent of 3km (2 miles) down the glen of Ledcharrie Burn. A series of wooden posts mark the intermittent path, which is fairly rough going through patches of heather and boggy areas.

After the initial descent the glen opens out, giving a view west to Stob Binnein and Ben More. The path passes below some ruined shielings before drawing close to Ledcharrie Burn. Near the bottom, go through a ruined wall and gateway then cross a substantial side stream by a bridge near its confluence with Ledcharrie Burn. Just below the disused railway cuts across the glen.

3rd Leg

Start at: NN507274

Go under the railway bridge and through a gate then turn right diagonally up the embankment. Now walk eastwards along the old line, which is mainly grassy underfoot with superb views over Glen Dochart. One awkward fence across the line, topped by a telegraph pole, is easiest ‘rolled’ over.

Beyond gates you enter Dochart Forest. Look for an old railway platform on your left, by a new house, and shortly beyond fork left where the old railway divides (the right branch goes up and over into Glen Ogle).

The left branch is a hard-surfaced track that gently angles downhill for 2km (1.25 miles) to the A85, running parallel to a power line and passing below Wester Lix.

4th Leg

Start at: NN547300

At the main road, cross with care to a path on the right that leads back up onto the old railway embankment. Continue ahead through woodland, skirting to the right of some fallen trees if they are still blocking the path. Beyond a bridge over a burn go through a high gate and exit Dochart Forest.

At a crossroads of tracks meet National Cycle Network route 7 and keep straight ahead on it. Soon there are views over fields on the left, with the Tarmachan and Ben Lawers mountains coming into view.

Pass under a bridge with a partial barrier underneath and soon turn follow the track left downhill to the A827, the main road through Killin. Turn right and in a short distance reach the Falls of Dochart Inn and the bridge over the tumbling river. The Clan Macnab burial ground is on an island accessed from the bridge.

Profile

18 km, n/a

The map below is intended for guidance only. You will need a compass and OS Explorers 365 & 378 or OS Landranger 51. You can zoom in and move the map around to see the route in more detail.
Click here to see a full screen Ordnance Survey map of the route


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