Hiking in Scotland is one of my favorite hobbies.
The place is home to a massive number of long-distance trekking trails, so it’s a perfect little location for anyone who likes big long walks.
The Rob Roy Way is one of the most alluring and iconic of them. It’s beautiful, varied, and relatively easy, and it’s an interesting insight into Scotland’s history and heritage.
In this guide, I’ve brought you everything you need to know about the Rob Roy Way. I’ve covered highlights, top tips, where to stay, what you’ll see along the route, and plenty more. I’ve even given you a suggested itinerary—that’s just how nice I am.
Before we get started, here’s a naughty confession: I haven’t completed the entirety of the Rob Roy Way in one go. But I’ve walked many sections of it, and I know the area (and its surroundings) really well, so I’m still a really cool and knowledgeable expert. Hope that’s okay.
What is the Rob Roy Way?
The Rob Roy Way is one of the most famous long-distance walking trails in Scotland. Without a possible detour (more on that later), it measures in at 79 miles (127km). It usually takes walkers around 5-8 days to complete.
Along the way, you wander from Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park to the lower outskirts of the Cairngorms National Park. You pass hills, mountains, lochs, farms, valleys, waterfalls, and loads more.
Scotland has lots of ‘Great Trails,’ long-distance walking and cycling routes that take outdoor adventurers across various parts of the country. And this is one of the best of them.
The route is named after Rob Roy, a famous Scottish outlaw. A loyal Jacobite (involved in many uprisings), he was (and still is) a massive cult hero. Sort of like a Scottish Robin Hood, Rob Roy MacGregor worked, lived, traded, and robbed in and around the areas you’ll explore during the Rob Roy Way. He was alive from 1671 to 1734, then was later portrayed by Liam Neeson in the 1995 Rob Roy movie.
Established in 2002, around 450 people complete the entire Rob Roy Way every year, but way more people use several sections of the path for shorter strolls.
Important note, before we go any further: there’s an optional official detour that makes the trail longer and more challenging. It extends the route by 17 miles (27km) to 96 miles (154km), but I’ve added more details about that in my itinerary, later in this guide.
How Long Does It Take to Complete the Rob Roy Way?
Most people tackle the Rob Roy Way trek in around 5 to 8 days. It’s definitely possible in 5 or 6 if you’re fit, healthy, and accustomed to long-distance multi-day walks. But I recommend taking a little more time.
I love walking, but no long-distance walk is fun when it becomes little more than a horrible mental challenge. So take your time, enjoy the sights, and pile loads of food and drink into your big fat face. For most people, tackling the Rob Roy Way is a vacation—so treat it like one.
If you’re not used to long-distance walking, do it over 7 or 8 days, because you might find it a struggle.
Is the Rob Roy Way Difficult?
No, it’s not.
Obviously, there are challenges along the way, but the Rob Roy Way is one of Scotland’s easier long-distance walks. The elevation profile is pretty easy, the terrain is good, most of the paths are popular and well-trodden, and it’s an official route with good waymarking.
The most important thing is being able to judge your own fitness. Tackle a couple of long day walks, and maybe even a two-day adventure, and then you’ll know whether or not you’re up to it.
Have you done any long-distance walking before? If you have, you’ll probably be okay.
Highlights Along the Rob Roy Way
There are loads of highlights along the Rob Roy Way. Here are some of my favorites:
- Loch Venachar: I reckon this is the first top-notch sight along the route. One of Scotland’s most underrated lochs, you get great views of the place, with Ben Ledi (one of the Trossachs’ highest peaks) in the background.
- Calander: A really popular tourist town, Callander is the so-called ‘Gateway to the Highlands’ (depending on who you ask). Surrounded by foresty crags and stuffed with cute shops and cafes, it’s charming and friendly, and you’ll love hobbling through the place.
- Falls of Leny: I’m not really bothered about waterfalls, but loads of people seem to love this place. Just outside of Callander, the Falls of Leny are multi-tiered and massive, and people come here to swim, take photographs, picnic and wild camp. It’s a tiny detour to see them, but if you’re into waterfalls, it’s worth it.
- Falls of Dochart: I reckon The Falls of Dochart are prettier than the Falls of Leny. And because they’re right on the river crossing into Killin, you don’t need to take a detour to see them.
- Creag Garbh: Just east of Killin is Creag Garbh, where you get the highest point of the walk (at 565 meters/1,853 feet). The true summit is a little higher, and you don’t clamber up to it, but the views during this section are great, giving you great panoramas of Loch Tay. Which brings us to…
- Loch Tay: Assuming you don’t take the detour, the Rob Roy Way will take you along the entirety of Loch Tay, one of my favorite lochs in Scotland. This stretch is packed with great views, great wildlife, and about ten million photo opportunities.
- Pitlochry: I really love Pitlochry. One of my favorite towns in Scotland, it’s really cute and charming. It’s a great place to visit whenever, but it’s an even better place to finish a massive hike, with lots of places to eat, drink and sleep. If you have time, make sure you overnight here when you’re done.
The Rob Roy Way Route and Map
Obviously, it’s important to build an itinerary that’s manageable (but still exciting) for you.
I’ve suggested a relatively laid-back 6-day itinerary here, which is pretty easy for most people. If you want to make it harder, you can squash days 5 and 6 together—or you can add the extra detour, which I’ve detailed at the end of this section.
Here’s the Rob Roy Way map to help you visualize the route and follow along this guide:
Day 1: Drymen to Aberfoyle: 11.5 Miles (18.5km)
Your first day is a relatively easy introduction. You don’t have to walk too far, there’s not much ascent and descent, and the highest point sits at only 210 meters (689 feet).
You wander through Loch Ard Forest, Muir Park Reservoir, and some forestry tracks, spending most of your day in and around woodland. The views are good, and the scenery is nice (if you’re into woodland), but the really great stuff is still to come.
Fun fact: Drymen is also on the West Highland Way, the most popular long-distance walking trail in Scotland.
Day 2: Aberfoyle to Strathyre: 18 Miles (30km)
If you don’t take the detour, this is your longest day by a long way—but it also has lots of pretty easy walking, with very few ascents or descents. If you’re a big baby and you instead want to split this day up into two days, you can stay overnight in Callander, which is (conveniently) right in the middle of Aberfoyle and Strathyre.
(If you don’t break this day down into two days, Callander is of course your logical lunch stop).
For the first half of today, you climb gently through more forests, which eventually open up to offer some really juicy panoramas. I reckon this is when the good stuff really starts. After you leave the forest behind, you’ll also see Loch Venachar, as you descend towards the place from a small peak.
After Callander, you pass the Falls of Leny (a good picnic spot if you don’t want to eat in the town itself). You then make your way towards Loch Lubnaig and past lots of distant mountains. From this point onwards, you start moving towards the more remote and rural parts of the hike.
Day 3: Strathyre to Killin: 13.5 Miles (22km)
Today isn’t very challenging, but there are a couple of significant (though relatively gentle) ascents: one at the start of the day, and another towards the end.
Because of that, you’ll enjoy lots of great views—I reckon today is the prettiest day so far. You get valley views of Ben More, great panoramas of Loch Earn, and countless views of distant peaks and ridges.
About halfway through your day, you’ll see Glen Ogle viaduct, maybe the most famous sight along the hike. Lots of people come here to take pictures, so fire up that Instagram.
As you make your way into Killin, you pass Falls of Dochart. If you’re not short on time, and if you can be bothered, have a little splash around in the falls.
Top tip: before you set off tomorrow, make sure you stock up on supplies in Killin for days 4 and 5. You’ll need them.
Day 4: Killin to Ardtalnaig: 12 Miles (19.5km)
This is your hardest day.
It’s not the longest day, but you kick things off with a steep ascent up Creag Garbh, the highest point of the walk. You make your way up through woodland and forest, but when it clears, you get ridiculously good views of Loch Tay, some other small lochs, and the northern part of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
You then tackle another steep slope (this time downhill), which brings you towards Ardtalnaig. Right on the shores of Loch Tay, Ardtalnaig is lovely, and you’ll probably fall in love with the place. There’s not much here except for great views, lots of wilderness, and about three houses.
Day 5: Ardtalnaig to Aberfeldy: 15 Miles (24km)
Important note: this is the section you’ll miss if you decide to tackle the detour. If you’re interested in that, skip two sections down, to the part I’ve imaginatively titled ‘Detour Day.’
Anyway, this one is another relatively difficult day. There’s a fair amount of ascent and descent, a decent amount of distance, and a highest point of 340 meters.
The first 5 miles (8km) of today are walking along a tarmac road—so if you’ve brought them, it’s best to wear sneakers or running shoes for this section, instead of heavy boots. You don’t want to smash those precious knees in.
Though this section is all along a paved road, it’s beautiful—for the whole duration, you’re walking along the southern shores of Loch Tay, so you get excellent views of the loch and the mountains and forests that surround it (including the Ben Lawers range).
You’ll then pass through Kenmore (stop for a coffee in the Paper Boat Cafe, right on the shores of the loch, if you have time) before hiking through more woods and forests on your way to Aberfeldy.
For the past couple of days, you’ve been really remote and rural, passing through tiny villages. But today, you make your way to Aberfeldy. It’s not a big place (with a population of only around 2,000 people)—but compared to Ardtalnaig, Killin, and the places between them, it feels like a metropolis.
Day 6: Aberfeldy to Pitlochry: 9 Miles (14.5km)
Your last day is a pretty easy one, as the mileage is short, and the walking is relatively flat. So, again, if you’ve brought your sneakers, you can wear them on this stretch (assuming the weather is alright).
You’ll walk along the banks of the River Tay, through charming riverside Grandtully, and into Pitlochry, where your big adventure ends.
Pitlochry is a perfect place for your finale. One of the most touristy towns in Scotland, it’s charming and welcoming, and there are lots of places to eat, drink and sleep. So get yourself some food and drink, and celebrate the end of your walk.
And that’s you done! Well, unless you want to add the hefty detour to your trip. In that case, the next part is for you. If not, skip down to the ‘when is the best time’ section, just below.
Detour Day: Ardtalnaig to Aberfeldy, the Alternative Way: 30.5 Miles (49km)
If you want to make the route longer, this is your detour: a roundabout way to get from Ardtalnaig to Aberfeldy. Again, this will replace the day 5 I’ve outlined above.
There are two main reasons you might want to do this detour. The first, obviously, is to make the walk longer and more challenging.
The second reason is to get really wild and remote—this detour takes you to barren, untouched parts of Scotland where few people go and even fewer people hike. So if that’s the sort of stuff you’re into, you should definitely consider the detour.
Anyway, if you take the detour, you’ll wander past (and through) quiet moors, heathery bogs, vast valleys, tiny rivers, barely-trodden paths, mini lochs, and the occasional lonely house. I think this is a much better route than the standard version of this section.
You can either split this section into two days by overnighting in or around Amulree or by tackling a bumper day of 30.5 miles. Personally, I wouldn’t do it in one day, cos it’d be massive and grueling and horrendous, but I’m not everyone.
When is the Best Time to Do the Rob Roy Way?
Warmer months are usually best (which, in Scotland, is spring and summer).
If you want to avoid crowds, spring is better than summer, so your trip doesn’t coincide with the British school holidays. That said, this walk is nowhere near as popular as some other long-distance hiking trails in the UK, so you’re never going to be surrounded by lots of crowds.
If you want to avoid midges (probably the most annoying insect on the planet), it’s best to travel outside of midge season, which is from May until September.
I wouldn’t tackle the Rob Roy Way in winter. Some people do, but the weather can be horrible, you have to carry more clothes, and there’s a chance that some accommodations might be closed. So my advice is: don’t bother.
How to Get to the Start of the Rob Roy Way
To get started, you need to get to Drymen.
The easiest access point for Drymen is usually Glasgow, so first make your way to Glasgow before moving on to Drymen. Here are your options for getting from Glasgow to Drymen.
- By car: an easy drive north of around 22 miles (35km). If you know anyone who lives in the local area, get them to drive you to Drymen—it’s the easiest way to tackle the trip.
- By public transport: there’s no direct bus connection and no direct train connection. Instead, you need to use a combo of more than one method of public transport. The easiest option is to take a direct train from Glasgow to Balloch before hopping on the 309 bus from Balloch to Drymen. This journey takes around 90 minutes in total.
Where to Stay Along the Rob Roy Way
It’s a pretty established route, so there are lots of great places to stay along the entire hike. So as long as you’re relatively flexible, and as long as you book in advance, you’ll always find a place to stay.
Here are my recommendations for each night:
Night 1: Aberfoyle
Aberfoyle is a relatively popular tourist town, so you have a decent number of options.
When you pass through towns and villages on any long-distance hike in the UK, it’s always best to stay in pubs, cos you get the best food, drink, and atmosphere. Aberfoyle Inn is basic and affordable, while The Forth Inn is a little more luxurious and classy.
Night 2: Strathyre
Strathyre is pretty small, but there are more accommodation options than most people expect.
If you want to stay in a(nother) pub, go to Ben Sheann, which is comfy and clean, and serves a brilliant breakfast. If you prefer traditional old-school bed & breakfasts, Rosebank House Bed & Breakfast has a great reputation for being friendly, warm, and welcoming.
Night 3: Killin
Again, pubs are your best option. The Falls of Dochart Inn is (unsurprisingly) close to the Falls of Dochart, and is old, traditional, and charming. Killin Hotel is a little more luxurious, ridiculously picturesque, and has a lovely conservatory (that’s a glasshouse, to you Americans).
Night 4: Ardtalnaig
Ardtalnaig is a tiny little place, so you have very few accommodation options.
Fantastic self-catering Bracken Lodges lie just beyond the village, while Ardeonaig Hotel is around 3 miles (5km) before Ardtalnaig, and is your only choice if you want a good meal after your fourth day of walking.
Night 5: Aberfeldy
Aberfeldy is a popular place, so you have lots of places to stay. My two top picks are The Townhouse, a classy bed and breakfast place, and Schiehallion Hotel, an old-school pub with comfortable rooms and traditional welcomes.
Night 6: Pitlochry
If you want to treat yourself to a hefty slice of luxury after your big long walk, rest your head in the Atholl Palace, an award-winning castle-style resort with sprawling gardens.
Or if you’re a normal person on a normal budget, I recommend McKays Hotel instead. Affordable, comfortable, and right in the center of town, it’s close to Pitlochry’s train station.
Bonus Night (If You Do the Detour): Amulree
There are no accommodation options in Amulree, so you might have to do some wild camping.
Or, if you don’t mind a little detour (of around 1.5 miles/2.5km), stay in the Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast, a bed and breakfast located inside of a farmhouse (in case that wasn’t clear).
Can I Camp on the Rob Roy Way?
Yeah, you can. But if you want to camp, you’ll need to be flexible.
Some overnight stays, for example (such as Aberfoyle and Ardtalnaig), don’t have a campsite in the center, while others (Amulree) don’t have any nearby campsites at all. So that means, if you’re set on carrying your tent, you’re gonna need to do some wild camping.
But it’s not all bad news: Scotland is a wild camper’s paradise. Thanks to Scotland’s ‘right to roam’ act, wild camping is completely legal in Scotland, so you can camp wherever and whenever you want.
The only exception is in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, where, between March and September, you need a special permit to camp in the park, and you can only do so in certain areas. But in all other places, and during all other times of the year, it’s open season baby!
Some of the most popular campsites along the Rob Roy Way include Drymen Camping (if you want to get a really early start for your first day), Immervoulin Caravan & Camping Park (in Strathyre), and Aberfeldy Caravan Park.
What Should I Eat Along the Rob Roy Way?
Mainly haggis, Irn Bru, and deep-fried Mars Bars.
No, not really—but the stuff you will get won’t be much healthier.
You’ll eat most of your meals in pubs, as is the case on most long-distance walking trails in the UK. But luckily for you, there are lots of great pubs along the way, where you get traditional British pub food along with (most importantly) Scottish specialties.
Make sure you have some haggis, some fish and chips, and as many pies and pastries as you possibly can. Just try not to have a heart attack.
Recommended Maps and Guidebooks for the Rob Roy Way
The route is pretty well waymarked, but the markings are occasionally a little inconsistent, and sometimes hard to find. And on top of that, Scotland can often get all misty, so it’s best to have a map and a guidebook.
If you want a map, I recommend this one. Waterproof, sturdy, and easy to read and use, it’s the only map you’ll need.
Weirdly, it’s quite difficult to find a good guidebook for the Rob Roy Way. This one by Jacquetta Megarry is the only good one I know of. It doesn’t include details on the detour option from Ardtalnaig to Aberfeldy, but it’s otherwise great, with altitude information, helpful food and drink tips, and some really interesting contextual stuff.
Pro Tips for the Rob Roy Way
Nearby and Connecting Routes
Scotland has a massive number of long-distance walking trails, and lots of them are in and around this area:
- West Highland Way: The most famous long-distance hiking route in Scotland, the 96-mile (154 km) West Highland Way takes hikers from Milngavie (just north of Glasgow) to Fort William, passing Glencoe, Ben Nevis, Rannoch Moor, Loch Lomond, and plenty more. The West Highland Way goes through Drymen, where the Rob Roy Way starts.
- Great Trossachs Path: Again, this one links up directly to the Rob Roy Way. A mini long-distance adventure measuring in at 28 miles (45km), it crosses west to east through a southern section of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. It largely runs along the shores of Loch Arklet and Loch Katrine, two of southern Scotland’s best lochs.
- John Muir Way: This one doesn’t connect up to the Rob Roy Way, but it’s pretty close-by. A meaty challenge clocking in at 134 miles (215km), the John Muir Way is a coast-to-coast route running from Helensburgh to Dunbar, just bypassing both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Final Words and Further Reading
There you are boys and girls—everything you need to know about the Rob Roy Way. Thanks for reading!
See you next time.