16 Jan 2011

Dreaming of spring in Rob Roy country

Thank you for the many kind suggestions on how to beat my winter blues. I am slowly starting to feel settled again, but one suggestion in particular has rooted itself in my mind. Wayne suggested posting some photos of Scotland in the spring, which is exactly what I have decided to do.

So let’s fast forward through the rest of the dark season and walk out into the new fresh world of spring, returning to Balquhidder Glen in time to see the daffodils blooming next to the gravestones in the churchyard.

This small churchyard is where Rob Roy is buried, along with this wife and two of his four sons. Their graves are alongside the gravel path and are surrounded by a metal rail with markers of their deaths (though I have read that the age of Rob Roy’s death shown on the marker is wrong, and that he died at the age of 63, not 70).

Rob Roy’s life has been extensively romanticised over the centuries, starting with his first appearance in Daniel Defoe’s “Highland Rogue” which led to a royal pardon for the famous cattle rustler. After his death, Sir Walter Scott’s novel “Rob Roy” brought the story to a wider audience, and Hollywood has gone on to cement his fame.
Compared to the rest of the churchyard, which contains the ruins of the original church and old gravestones surrounded by swathes of lush green grass, the burial site of the MacGregor family seems run down and somewhat sad.

If you are intrigued by the Rob Roy story, it is understandable you would want to see the place where he is buried. But I would encourage visitors to the Trossachs to avoid the trap of just stopping by the Balquhidder churchyard as a way to check something off a “to see” list. The experience of Rob Roy country (as the Trossachs are often called) is to be had by getting out in the countryside that MacGregor would have spent much of his life.
Even a short walk on the trail that leads off behind the church will get you beneath the trees with the sound of the river over rocks. Or if you have time you can create a more intimate holiday experience by walking the 79-mile Rob Roy Way.

This was just what I needed. I can look at these photos and almost believe that the next time I walk outside I will see the trees sporting swollen buds and be able to smell that sweet, new-life scent in the air.

If you could wake up anywhere in Scotland at the height of spring, where would you choose?

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