Thoigh a fictionalised account of Rob Roy Macgregor was published, perhaps most famously by Sir Walter Scott, Rob was a real life historical figure. There are plenty of places around the Trossachs and Loch Lomond that have Rob Roy connections.
Just before a kind of gazetteer of places associated with Rob Roy Macgregor, a reminder of how Sir Walter Scott helped ensure Rob Roy’s place in Scotland’s culture and folk lore. He published his story in 1816. As in his earlier ‘The Lady of the Lake’ he set the narrative very much in real landscapes, so that visitors would be able to see the settings of episodes in the book.
Scott heard many tales of the exploits of Rob Roy Macgregor - and even talked to old men who could remember Rob. In Scott's novel Rob Roy, Rob became the symbol of a vanishing way of life - under threat from the Lowland-based government and the spread of industry and commerce. This does make Rob sound a bit like Butch Cassidy or his partner, but chronologically speaking, the clan system was dismantled after the last Jacobite misadventure at Culloden, only twelve years after Rob's death.
You can track down these places associated with Rob Roy Macgregor by taking the Trossachs tour from Edinburgh.
His place of birth is marked by Glengyle House (greatly rebuilt since Rob's day) which stands in Glen Gyle on the shores of Loch Katrine in the heart of the Trossachs. (This dwelling is private and can be viewed only from the nearby road). There is a Clan Gregor graveyard close by.
Also in the same area on the north-west end of Loch Katrine are Portnellan farmhouse, on the site of the first house he occupied after his marriage, and another Clan Gregor graveyard. This one is just a little way beyond Portnellan, on a little causeway on the very edge of the loch, the gravestones themselves having been moved when the loch's water level was raised when it became Glasgow's water supply.
It was after seeing these graves in their original position in 1803 that the English romantic poet William Wordsworth composed the poem 'Rob Roy's Grave'. However, he was mistaken in identifying this site as Rob Roy Macgregor's last resting place (see below) though some say that Rob's father, Donald Glas of Glengyle (d. 1693) lies here.
The Glen Gyle places of interest can be reached on foot or cycle from Stronachlachar - where the famous steamer the SS Sir Walter Scott calls in the summer months. Factor's Island - pictured above, with the Stronachlachar pier on the left - is just off shore. Rob once held the Duke of Montrose's factor to ransom here - one of many incidents in Rob's private war with Montrose. The island was also reduced in size following the raising of the water level. Note that the road round Loch Katrine west of Stronachlachar is only open to pedestrians and cyclists (even if your map suggests differently!).
Around Loch Lomond
In Rob Roy Macgregor's legitimate cattle-dealing days, he owned the estate of Craigrostan on the east bank of Loch Lomond now traversed by a long-distance footpath, the West Highland Way, north of Rowardennan. His house was at Inversnaid on the shore of Loch Lomond. Later, barracks were built (now in ruins and part of a sheepfold) further up the hill, to control the unruly Macgregors.
Rob's wife Mary (who was also his cousin and called Helen in Sir Walter Scott's novel) came from Comar, a farm just north-east of Ben Lomond, reached only by fit walkers via forestry paths from the Stronachlachar/Aberfoyle road. Loch Arklet, east of Loch Lomond as well as Loch Katrine had many Macgregor families nearby - and there is an old rallying ground of the clan at the east end of Loch Arklet, though the area is altered with the damming of the loch in connection with feeding Loch Katrine.
Rob Roy Macgregor's grave, in the kirkyard at Balquhidder, is a place of pilgrimage (of a kind) for many visitors.
This beautiful glen in Rob's time was a settlement area of all sorts of landless clansmen, as well as a Clan Gregor stronghold. Rob eventually settled here and lived peaceably after 1720. He was buried with his wife in Balquhidder Church graveyard. Maps still mark the site of his house at Inverlochlarig (private) where the public road ends at a carpark towards the west end of the glen. Nearby Loch Lubnaig was one of the many places where he outwitted forces sent from Stirling Castle to capture him.
He also escaped from Logierait Castle, near Dunkeld, after treachery by the Duke of Atholl and from the Duke of Montrose at the Fords of Frew on the River Forth.
A quick tour round some other points of interest
Killiecrankie: 1689 battlesite near Pitlochry. Rob's father, and possibly the young Rob Roy Macgregor himself, fought on the Jacobite side in the first effort to return James VII to the throne.
Kippen: the scene of a notorious cattle raid by Rob and his men in 1691.
Glen Dochart on the main Callander-Oban road, below Ben More: the site of Auchinchisallen, the farmhouse where Rob lived under Campbell protection, after being declared an outlaw. The remains of a house are (barely) visible from the main road.
Inveraray Castle: Rob surrendered here to the Duke of Argyll, then lived for a time at Glen Shira nearby.
Sheriffmuir: a battlesite in the Ochils, near Stirling. Rob took part on the Jacobite side in the 1715 uprising.
Glen Shiel: Rob took part in a skirmish between government forces and Jacobites (including Spanish troops) in the 1719 uprising. The incident is recalled in the Gaelic name of one of the many high hills along the glen: Sgurr na Spainteach - Spaniards' peak.
Eilean Donan Castle: This famously picturesque castle was totally destroyed by naval gunfire after occupation by a force of Spanish soldiers in the short-lived 1719 Jacobite rebellion. The castle lay in ruins until restoration between 1912 and 1932.
Finlarig Castle, Killin: The home of the Earl of Breadalbane, a sometime Jacobite sympathiser, and a Campbell, as was Rob's mother. Rob lived under Breadalbane's protection for a time when on the run from the Duke of Montrose. The castle itself is very ruinous but what is said to be the only surviving beheading pit in Scotland can still be seen. (At least, there’s a large hole in the ground at the back of the ruin. Hmmm.)
Culter, Deeside: A kilted figure, said to represent Rob Roy, stands on a rock above a tributary of the River Dee, west of Culter (between Aberdeen and Banchory). It is visible from the main road.
Burn o Vat, near Ballater: This spectacular rock formation on Deeside draws many visitors each year and is popularly associated as a hiding place of Rob Roy, though well away from his usual haunts. In fact, it was used by Patrick Gilroy Macgregor, perhaps a distant kinsman, who was leader of a notorious band who plundered all over Deeside until this particular Macgregor was caught and hanged in Edinburgh in 1658. Oh, all right - I agree. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the real Rob Roy Macgregor. But folk get confused!
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