Dunblane To Balquhidder
ROUTE LENGTH: 25 MILES
Take the A820 from Dunblane to Doune. By cycle, from Dunblane Cathedral, take Hanning, turn left onto Auchinley Road, then left onto Kilbryde Crescent – stay on until you meet and turn left onto Doune Road, the A820.
Take the A84 from Doune to Callendar, and further on. The village of Balquhidder is reached by taking a sliproad off the A84 to the left, then continuing right to pass under the main road. Eventually you will reach the village, with the churches clear on the right side.
By cycle, from Dunblane Cathedral, take Hanning, turn left onto Auchinley Road, then left onto Kilbryde Crescent – stay on until you meet and turn left onto Doune Road, the A820.
Take the A84 from Doune to Callendar, and further on. The village of Balquhidder is reached by taking a sliproad off the A84 to the left, opposite the Mhor 84 hotel at Kingshouse, then continuing right to pass under the main road (a national cycle route). Eventually you will reach the village, with the churches clear on the right side.
By Public Transport
Take the C66 from Dunblane to Doune. From Doune to Callander, take the 59 (Firstbus). To reach Balquidder, take the C60 from Callander to the Mhor 84 hotel at Kingshouse. Decant and either get a taxi or walk along the road opposite to Balquidder.
To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.
Dunblane sits by a deep gorge through which the River Allan flows down to the Carse of Stirling. This creates a narrow passage between Perthshire and Stirlingshire, and between Lowlands and southern Highlands. This has led to many historic battles being fought in the area, but for Blane the point was to establish a centre of Christian community at this strategic gateway. The medieval cathedral has a commanding site above the town looking down into the gorge.
From Dunblane we continue by the town of Doune, in which the old church dedication is to Maodhag or Aodhan, better known as St Aidan. The forbidding Castle of Doune lowers over the River Teith, and from its battlements the Lady Doune, according to the ballad, looked lang to see her son the Earl of Moray ‘come sounding through the toun’. The wait was fruitless as Moray had been assassinated.
Past Callendar we ascend the Pass of Leny to reach Balquhidder Glen. In the village, a little off the main road, at least three successive churches on this site take us back through the centuries to St Angus, who is represented here in a primitive relief of the saint proffering a chalice. The wayward hero Rob Roy McGregor is buried here, as is the first wife of Robert Kirk, the seventeenth century Episcopal minster, translator, and philosopher of ‘The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies’. We are entering rich cultural territory in which the stories of the saints, the heroes of Ossian, the early clan poets, and the ‘good people’ (call them fairies at your peril!) intermingle.
By the time of Rob Roy in the eighteenth century the glory days of Clan MacGregor had passed, and the scattered clan had endured a hundred and fifty years of persecution. But the older poems collected by James McGregor, Dean of Lismore, remind us that they were the ‘seed of Alpin’, a premiere part of Scotland’s Gaelic lineage, reaching far back into the age of the saints.
Let praise sound in bell and psalm,
Let praise sound in running streams
Let praise sound in word and birdsong
Let praise sound by art and heart
Let praise sound by faith and deed
May all creation praise its Maker.