Strathyre, Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park
"There's Gold in them thar hills"
Strathyre's naturally beautiful surroundings are a “must visit” whether you are an outdoor adventurer or recognise the benefits of a central location from which to explore Perthshire , the Trossachs and other regions and attractions within Scotland .
Situated 4 miles south of Balquhidder and Lochearnhead and 8 miles north of Callander, Strathyre is in the heart of Scotland . Part of the revered Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park , it has long been credited as the principle gateway to the Scottish Highlands from the south. Strathyre is only half an hour by car from Stirling on the A84 and an hour from Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, yet there is a dramatic change in the landscape, where the air becomes sweeter, tinged with the distinct aroma of forest and foliage.
Recognisable by its linear form of continuous houses and hotels on the east side, the village lies at the head of picturesque Loch Lubnaig (crooked loch) on the banks of the 8km long River Balvaig. Strathyre, meaning “sheltered valley”, is surrounded by majestic mountains with craggy outcrops, corries, screes and distinctive peaks as well as hills with smoother landforms; Beinn an t-Sidhein (Ben Shian), Ben Vane, Ben Ledi, Ben Vorlich, Stuc a' Chroin. Open upland hills dominate the area, forests being a distinctive characteristic along with native grassland and heathers.
A few deserted farmsteads provide evidence of relict medieval settlement and agriculture around Strathyre. The village was one of the cottar towns that emerged following a shift in population along the route of the military road built in 1750 between Stirling and Fort William . Cottar houses were built on the old cattle drovers road ( Keip Road ) on the west side of the river Balvaig. During this time the village developed the nickname Nineveh . Some say it was due to the number of public houses frequented by drovers and others blame one traveller said to have lost three days in a drunken stupor. He allegedly woke several times only to imbibe and pass out again. The reputation following today's hostelries is more about excellent food, superb performances by visiting musicians and a warm atmosphere in which to share tales of folklore, outdoor activities and travel.
John Campbell , the 2nd Marquis of Breadalbane was an amateur geologist. He discovered veins of gold and silver in 1855 after exploration within his estate on the Strathyre hills. Locals had been aware of precious metals there for centuries, using their sheepskins to trap deposits of gold in stream beds. The Marquis investment did produce some gold, however the cost of transporting the goods made it an impractical venture and all prospecting ceased following his death in 1862.
The heart of the village moved to Main Street on the east side of the river in the late 19th century due to the development of the Callander to Oban railway line. A number of hotels and villas were erected to complement the new railway station, replacing some of the old feu cottages. The line was timetabled for closure in November 1965 following Dr Beeching 's revision of the National Rail Network. A serious landslide at Glen Ogle , however, brought the line to an abrupt end in September that year. The distinctly Victorian architecture of the remaining properties however, can still be enjoyed today.
Strathyre has been visited and written about by notable worthies including St Columba , Dorothy and William Wordsworth , Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott . Yet it is a son of Strathyre, the little known Dugald Buchanan whose is recognised by a memorial fountain erected in the old station square in 1883. Born in 1716 at Ardoch mill, he was a Gaelic scholar, poet and evangelist who was credited with bringing the gospel to some of the most lawless areas of the Highlands and who helped oversee the publication of the New Testament in Gaelic in 1767.
The rugged Strathyre forest extends well beyond the village and is encompassed within the 50 000 acre Queen Elizabeth Forest Park , designated by The Forestry Commission to mark the occasion of Her Majesty's coronation in 1953. This is an exceptional attraction offering activities and facilities set amongst commercial, semi-natural and ancient woodland nurturing local plants and wildlife.
Whether you enjoy 5 star dining in 17th century surroundings, walking and cycling through forest trails or camping and canoeing on lochs and rivers, “ Bonnie Strathyre ” is still as picturesque today as expressed in the 19th century lyrics of Sir Harold Boulton 's song.