If there’s one character from Scotland’s long history who seems to split opinion, it’s Rob Roy MacGregor.
We all think we know something about him: robber, thief, outlaw, hero, Highland legend, patriot. The list goes on. Sir Walter Scott immortalised him in his novel Rob Roy 200 years ago but who was he really? Wilderness Guide Gill McMillan gives us her take on both the man and the long distance trail named after him – the Rob Roy Way.
Named for him in 2002, the Rob Roy Way passes through country that Scotland’s most famous outlaw knew very well. You’ll get a real flavour of the rugged beauty of the land and see Highland cattle, trout-filled lochs and mountains a-plenty. Along the way you can pop into a café for tea and scones or take a leisurely pub lunch and have a blether with the friendly locals about their thoughts on the man. It’s a pleasant and fairly well signposted route that’s ideal for those new to long-distance walking and old hands alike.
Who was Rob Roy?
From my own perspective I recently read W.H. Murray’s Rob Roy MacGregor: His Life and Times and the author takes every opportunity to defend Rob Roy. He notes that ‘thieving’ or ‘lifting’ in the form of cattle rustling wasn’t considered theft by Highlanders, but instead an accepted means of survival for many centuries.
It seems that Rob, if anything, was an honourable man, physically strong, quick-witted, an excellent swordsman and expert tracker. Rob quickly became one of the best. His strong track record put him in high demand from powerful landowners who needed skilled and trustworthy men to drive their cattle to market.
As you follow in his footsteps along the 126 km route from Drymen to Pitlochry you’ll walk the land he relied upon as he fell out of favour with the gentry. The walking is straightforward; the route makes use of cycle routes, paths, tracks and minor roads, and is hilly in sections.
- An optional loop from Loch Tay inland to Amulree adds another 49km.