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A loch in the Trossachs
John Ruskin painted in the Trossachs by Millais (1853–54)
Engraving of the Trossachs in Scotia Depicta (1804)

The Trossachs are a famed woodland glen in Perthshire, in the southerly tracts of the Highlands. The glen lies between Ben A'an (1,750 feet) to the north and Ben Venue (2,393 feet) to the south, with Loch Katrine to the west and Loch Achray to the east, around 56°13’52"N, 4°24’18"W.

The Trossachs may be found eight miles west of Callander and just five miles north of Aberfoyle

Though the name is originally attached to the small glen alone, it has come to be used of the wider area of wooded glens and braes with quiet lochs, lying to the east of Ben Lomond. The Lake of Menteith lies about six miles to the south east of the glen, on the edge of the Trossachs area.

The area is now part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and remains popular with walkers and cyclists.

The glen

The Trossachs take their name from Gaelic, in which the glen is known as Na Trosaichean, signifying 'the bristled country' in allusion to its densely wooded nature. The Trossachs properly so called is a defile in the southwest of Perthshire; a narrow, beautifully wooded glen, of no great depth, extending from Loch Achray to Loch Katrine, and continued in a strip along the loch's north-eastern to a point opposite to Ellen's Isle; a total distance of 2½ miles.

Ben Venue (2393 ft.) on the S.W. and the precipitous craig of Ben A'an (1750 ft.) on the N.E. Characterized by lovely scenery, owing to its harmonious blending of wood, water, rock and hill, the region has been famous ever since the appearance of Sir Walter Scott's The Lady of the Lake and Rob Roy. Before the construction of the road that now winds through the pass, Sir Walter says that the only access to the lake was by means of a ladder formed out of the branches and roots of trees. A rustic pier has been built at the Trossachs end of Loch Katrine for the convenience of tourists, and a large hotel stands on the northern shore of Loch Achray, near the beginning of the pass.


The scenic charms of the area came to popularity with Sir Walter Scott's 1810 poem The Lady of the Lake, extending his romantic portrayal of Scotland's past from border ballads to poems of a mediæval past rich in chivalry and symbolism. The poem gives a roll call of Trossachs place names, the lady herself being found on Loch Katrine. Scott followed up with his 1817 historical novel Rob Roy romanticising the outlaw cattle thief Robert Roy MacGregor, born by Loch Katrine and buried at nearby Balquhidder.

Tourism and development

The Trossachs Hotel was built on the north bank of Loch Achray in response to the growing number of tourists visiting the region. The building now functions as the Tigh Mor Trossachs holiday apartments, owned by the Holiday Property Bond (HPB).

In 1859, a dam was built at the eastern end of Loch Katrine and connecting aqueducts were added to as part of a new main water supply to Glasgow. At the expense of the Glasgow water company, Queen Victoria had a holiday house built overlooking the loch. The house, Royal Cottage, later became accommodation for the employees of Scottish Water. A steamer service was introduced, and the SS Sir Walter Scott, launched in 1900, remains in operation.

The principal villages at the heart of the Trossachs region are of Callander and Aberfoyle. Balloch, Tyndrum and the conservation village of Luss also lie within the National Park.

Two long-distance footpaths run through the area: the West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way.

The park contains hundreds of miles of walking and cycling routes, and watersports are practised on many lochs in the park, with some having motor boat and jet skiing facilities and fishing rights. Lake of Menteith, near Aberfoyle, is a fishing destination that features the ruins of Inchmahome Priory on one of its islands, Inchmahome, where Mary, Queen of Scots was taken as a child before being taken France for her protection.

Ruskin connection

The leading Victorian art critic John Ruskin (1819–1900) and the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais (1829–1896) spent the summer of 1853 together at Glenfinlas in the Trossachs.[1] Millais started a painting of John Ruskin] during the visit (which he finished the following year). The painting is held in a private collection. Ruskin himself was especially interested in the rock formations in the area and undertook his own studies of these.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Trossachs)


  1. Ruskin and Millais at Glenfinlas, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 138, No. 1117, pages 228–234, April 1996. (Accessed via JSTOR, UK.)