The Trossachs and Glencoe
Heading north to leave Stirling’s distinctive flood plain and volcanic outcrops behind, and the landscape becomes more rugged. This terrain beguiled the Romantics, including Ruskin and Millais, also inspiring Sir Walter Scott’s 1810 poem The Lady of the Lake and his later historical novel Rob Roy. This is the home of Scotland’s first National Park: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Its footprint covers 720 square miles of lochs, glens, and mountains, boasting unparalleled biodiversity. Rivers are clear, ospreys still soar above ancient deciduous trees, and squirrels are bright flashes of red, not grey.
Further north is the stark landscape of Rannoch moor, close to where filmmakers created Claire’s mysterious disappearance in Outlander. Traverse the moor to Glencoe, perhaps Scotland’s most emblematic glen, whose silver waters are towered over by Buachaille Etive Mor and The Three Sisters peaks. Glencoe’s terrible beauty is perhaps best experienced in less clement weather, when mists deepen the silence and communicate something of this landscape’s unsettling past. The massacre of the clan MacDonald here in 1692 fuelled the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745, and went on to capture the imaginations of authors throughout the centuries. This striking landscape has also caught the eye of filmmakers to provide backdrops for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in 2003, and more recently, for the 2012 James Bond movie, Skyfall.