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Balquhidder Kirk Above the Glen
The folk hero and Robin Hood of the highlands, Rob Roy MacGregor lived most of his life in the Breadalbane area of the Trossachs. He was born near Loch Katrine, in 1671 and died in Balquhidder Glen in 1734. He became a legend during his own lifetime when his fictional biography was published by Daniel Defoe. The story was later embellished in the novel Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott, in the 19th century.
Rob Roy became an outlaw when a dispute over money and cattle led him into a life of banditry and cattle rustling aimed at local landlords and nobility. Eventually, having taken up the Jacobite cause, supporting the Stewarts against the English Crown, the label of treason - and a price - was put on his head.
Despite all this, Defoe's book, Highland Rogue, led to a Royal Pardon in 1726. Rob Roy spent the rest of his days in the tiny hamlet of Balquhidder. He died of old age and is buried among MacLarens and MacGregors in the graveyard of the Old Kirk.Continue to 2 of 3 below.
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Rob Roy - The Outlaw's Grave
Finding Balquhidder, near the head of Balquidder Glen, overlooking Loch Voil, is something of a challenge. Although it lies to the west of the A84, you have to leave the main road going east, between Strathyre and Lochearnhead, to find it. Look for signs for Balquhidder and for the Mhor 84 Motel and just before the hotel turn right under the A84. There is a small sign for Balquhidder and Rob Roy's Grave - but it is easy to miss.
The road climbs and winds - and you will pass an old church on the left that looks likely - but keep going. Although only about a mile and a quarter from the A84, these are country miles and the ride take much longer than you might expect.
Not to worry, the site is well signed once you are near it. The Old Kirk, where Rob Roy is buried beside his wife and two sons, is beside the Victorian, Balquidder Parish Church.
Behind the parish church, a steep path leads beside a rushing stream and then down into the glen beside Loch Voil, about half a mile away. The tiny parish (pop.50) has a library where there is a tea shop in the summer, and additional parking near the town hall, just past the church.
Return the same way you came because the glen is a cul-de-sac. If you continue on in the same direction, the road becomes a single track, running alongside Loch Voil and tiny Loch Doine, then simply dead-ends.Continue to 3 of 3 below.
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Rob Roy's Tomb - MacGregor Despite Them
A curious monument stone stands at what appears to be the head of the graves of Rob Roy, his wife and sons. I say "appears to be" because all markings and shape have worn away from the graves themselves.
The words "MacGregor Despite Them" are chiseled defiantly on Rob Roy's Grave. During Rob Roy's lifetime, the name and clan of MacGregor were banned by the crown - not because of Rob Roy's action, but because of an earlier dispute with the King in 1603.
For a while, Rob Roy used Campbell, the name of his mother's clan. But once he became an outlaw and bandit, he returned to using the MacGregor name as a challenge to his enemies.