Scotland's longest, loneliest, loveliest glen...
Glen Lyon is one of Scotland's most beautiful glens and it is packed with history. It is infamous for having been the home of John Cambell of Glen Lyon - responsible for the Glen Coe massacre.
If you are visiting the area by car, then Glen Lyon is an absolute must. Be warned though, some parts of the road are very narrow with potholes and cracks, don't forget the bends and twists. The road follows the river for the first couple of miles then it opens up slightly, it is single track all the way. The trip from Kenmore to Killin takes a good few hours. While you are on your journey, be sure to drop in at the Bridge of Balgie for a cream tea at the local Post Office & Tearoom by the banks of the River Lyon.
Glenlyon House rests at the west end of Fortingall village, dating back to 1694. To the west, the River Lyon emerges from the steep sided rocky jaws of Glen Lyon itself. Watch out for the arch of a packhorse bridge crossing a tributary below a waterfall on the south bank of the River Lyon, this is known as the Roman Bridge, though seems to date back to the 1600s or 1700s. Further on are the ruins of Carnbane Castle, these stand on top of a spur of high ground on the north side of the river above the road. The castle dates back to the 1500s, built by Red Duncan Campbell the Hospitable, who was not quite so hospitable that he overlooked the inclusion of gun-loops in the design. The castle was burned down during a raid by cattle thieves, and has stood as a ruin ever since.
The tiny hamlet of Invervar is best known as the starting point for the walk round the "Glen Lyon Horseshoe", a circuit of four Munros, or individual mountains over 3000ft high, to the north: Carn Gorm, Meall Garbh, Carn Mairg and Meall na Aighean. Assuming you are driving rather than hillwalking, the next highlight along the glen is St Adamnan's Cross (or St Adomnán's Cross) on top of an embankment on the left hand side of the road just before you reach the farmstead at Camusvrachan. This is a stone which leans over to one side and carries a cross on two faces. It is named after Adomnán, Abbot of Iona from 679 to 704. There are suggestions that Adomnán visited Glen Lyon on a number of occasions en route from Iona to Pictish Atholl, and the cross is one of a number of objects named after or dedicated to him in the area.
In Glenlyon Church at Innerwick you can see St Adomnán's Bell, believed to date back to the 700s and found in the churchyard of the ruined St Brandon's Chapel in the glen. Not far from Glenlyon Church is the Glen Lyon War Memorial which is situated next to the road. A little further is Bridge of Balgie, home to the glen's beautiful post office and a tearoom. From Bridge of Balgie an adventurous single track road provides an alternative route into or out of the glen as it climbs to a height of 1,800ft over the flank of Ben Lawers before descending to Loch Tay, east of Killin. Please note this minor road is not kept open in winter conditions. The glen opens up west of Bridge of Balgie, it is worth looking out for the spectacularly white Meggernie Castle close to the river south of the road, you will only catch a brief glimpse from the main road. Meggernie Castle was the traditional home of the Campbells of Glen Lyon, Lairds included Captain Robert Campbell, who led the government troops who committed the Glencoe Massacre.
A branch in the road beyond Meggernie Castle allows you to turn north west towards Loch an Diamh and its surrounding Munros, including Meall Buidhe. The alternative is to press on into the ever wider spaces of the western end of Glen Lyon. You will pass power stations at Stronuich and Cashlie and the remains of a series of homesteads. A cairn on a hill to the right of the road remembers Robert Campbell (albeit a different one), noted for his exploration of north west Canada. As you approach Pubil and Lubreoch, the glen is increasingly dominated by the massive Lubreoch Dam, whose construction in the 1950s created the five mile long Loch Lyon as part of a wider hydro-electric scheme. The head of Glen Lyon is an intriguing place, with the far end of the loch being only four miles from Bridge of Orchy and the West Highland Railway.
Glen Lyon has an abundance of botanical interests, nature and wildlife (buzzards, ptarmigan, grouse, deer to name but a few) - make sure you have your camera at the ready!
If you fancy a stroll, you can walk along the river bank from Bridge of Balgie to Roro Estate then return back along the road, or take the footpath to Rannoch (even going up a short way can be rewarding) or walks along Loch Lyon and Loch an Daimh can be as short or as long as you fancy.