Welcome to the backyard of 17th century Highland Rogue ‘Rob Roy’ MacGregor, easily reached on a day tour from Edinburgh or Glasgow. Rob Roy knew this part of the world well. He walked in the shadow of the magnificent medieval fortress at Stirling, drove stolen cattle across the upper reaches of the mighty River Forth and terrorised those living south of the Highland Line. This spectacular geological fault separated two very different worlds. The green fields, villages and farms of Lowland Scotland and the untamed mountains of Highland clans and Gaelic song.
This 1 day tour follows some of the haunts of the ‘Children of the Mist’ or the wild and often outlawed MacGregor clan. We might begin the day at Stirling Castle, best known for its role in Scotland’s medieval Wars of Independence. Near here, two key battles in Scottish history were fought - and won - by ‘Braveheart’ William Wallace and ‘Outlaw King’ Robert the Bruce.
We visit the grave of Rob Roy MacGregor and a typical Highland church where a minister once wrote about the Commonwealth of Elves and Faeries. We can ponder on the field below the church where Rob Roy fought his last dual against the champion of the Clan Maclaren. Today, the Maclaren chief still lives in the glen of his forefathers. Its name, Balquhidder, probably means the ‘settlement of the back country.’
We may go on to explore by steamer Loch Katrine, immortalised by English poet Wordsworth and Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem The Lady of the Lake. Or perhaps travel deeper into the Highlands to the hauntingly beautiful Glen Coe where a tragic massacre of the Macdonald clan took place. This is a route Rob Roy would have known well as he drove cattle down from the western islands to southern markets.
It is Rob Roy’s country.
The Great North-West
Scotland’s north-west coast is a land of wind and mountain, sea loch and ragged coastline.
The daunting Bealach na Baor Pass of the Cattle leads to the remote Applecross Peninsula. This spectacular road often feels vertical to the adventurous driver. It reaches a height of 626 m under the watchful eye of a hill called Sgùrr a' Chaorachain.
Until the 1900s Applecross was only accessible by boat. The name Aporcrosan is one of the oldest known names in Scotland - as much as 1300 years old. It is thought that it derives from the ancient Pictish language meaning 'confluence of the river’.
There are spectacular views from here across to the island of Skye. Beyond the peninsula, lies beautiful Torridon, with its loch and glen of the same Gaelic name. It describes a place where people used to transfer goods from boats to dry land.
The sea is still important today and Ullapool, a main centre, is where travellers take a ferry to Stornaway, in the Western Isles, across a stretch of sea called the Minch..
Further north, is Sutherland. The Vikings called this land Suðrland or ‘southern land’ even though it is one of the most northerly parts of Scotland. In the past, giants of geological investigation came here to discover and debate what are now known as the oldest rocks in Europe. We can explore the North-West Highlands Geopark and Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve, where with our hands we can literally span aeons of time.
This part of Sutherland is called Assynt. The name is probably Viking for ‘ridge.’ However, according to local legend there was a fight between two brothers called Unt (man of peace) and Ass-Unt ( man of discord). The ‘man of discord’ won and gave his name to this wild place.
The poster-boys of Scottish hills are here - Stac Pollaidh, Quinag, Canisp, Ben More Assynt and Suilvan, Scotland’s own ‘Sugar Loaf Mountain.’
This is spectacular country and forms part of the North Coast 500, one of the great road trips of the world.
The difficulty planning a journey to the north-west is where not to go.
Above are a few suggested tours but honestly, we could go on and on and on.
Whether you dream of visiting some of Scotland’s 2000 castles or wish to explore family roots, brew a hot drink in a lonely glen or meet working sheep dogs, Noost can help put together your own, personal experience.
Noost can also assist with advice on accommodation from boutique hotels to bed and breakfast or glamping on a remote farm croft. Or we can simply share a golden glass of whisky - ‘the water of life.’