At Beyond Fitness we are pretty proud to be able to host our guests at the stunning Royal Cottage on the banks of Loch Katrine. No matter how many times you visit, the views and situation never fail to impress. If, however, you delve into the past, the stories of the local places and the people who visited them add a richness to the landscape that could pass the visitor by. Read on to find out how the place we call home changed from a haunt of outlaws to the protected outdoor playground of today.
Rob Roy MacGregor
The first notable character to come from the area was the Highland clansman known as Rob Roy MacGregor made famous in the novel ‘Rob Roy’ by Sir Walter Scott in 1817 and more recently his portrayal on the big screen by Liam Neeson no less. Rob Roy was born at the head of Loch Katrine in 1671 and soon became embroiled in the Jacobite uprisings that were happening during his early life.
By 18 he was off to war with his father to support the Catholic King James II and oppose his deposition by the English Parliament in London. His father was captured during the campaign and spent time in prison as a traitor, leaving his son as the head of the family. Rob Roy spend much of his adult life fighting parliamentary troops engaged in stamping out the Jacobite rebellions of the early 18th century.
Through his support for the Jacobites Rob Roy forfeit all his hereditary lands around Loch Katrine and in later life he waged a private blood feud against those in power who stole his land and livelihood from him. Seen as something of a Scottish Robin Hood he was to be a thorn in the side of authorities in the area until eventually he was captured and imprisoned. His historic home of Glengyle House still stands at the end of the Loch and the remains of the English Garrison built to keep check of the Jacobite rebels can still be found at the neighbouring village of Inversnaid.
Queen Victoria makes a visit
While Rob Roy fought to keep one monarch on the throne in the 18th century it wasn’t until many years later that another monarch would grace the area with a royal presence. This time it was not to put down rebellions but to celebrate the construction of a great feat of engineering that would revolutionise the health of the population.
By the 1800s a growing urban population in Glasgow was putting a strain on water supplies, leaving many in the city with no clean water and resulting in devastating illness and poverty. An act of parliament gave permission to raise the water level of Loch Katrine so as to make it possible to pipe the water by gravity the 55km to the city.
Built and designed by revered civil engineer John Frederick Bateman the completed works were opened by Queen Victoria herself during her visit to the area in 1859. The queen demanded a house and jetty be built for her use during her visit. The same house that we now run our retreats from, Royal Cottage. However, while you can enjoy the comforts that Royal Cottage offers, the Queen never got to stay in the house commissioned for her as the 21-gun salute that welcomed her arrival shattered the buildings windows and left the house unusable. Today the same water works still provide Glasgow with all its water and Royal Cottage remains fit for a Queen!
The Trossachs National Park
Today this area of historic and natural significance has been recognised and protected as part of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. It was the first National Park established by the Scottish Parliament in 2002. The park encompasses much of the South West Highlands including the vast and famous Loch Lomond and no fewer that 21 munros (peaks of over 3000ft) so it is easy to see why the area has become a centre for outdoor adventures.
The fact that it is so close to the transport links of central Scotland adds to its popularity. The region boasts a great array of wildlife due to its protected status and red squirrels, red deer, buzzards, grouse, owls and ospreys are regular visitors to Royal Cottage. The stunning combination of vast lochs, deep forests and soaring mountains makes the place a must visit for anyone looking to explore the wilds of Scotland and get back to nature.
Come and stay at the Royal Cottage
Now that you know a little more about our corner of the world why don’t you come visit for yourself? Hike the passes that Rob Roy MacGregor used to evade his captors and enjoy the views that exhilarated Queen Victoria on her Scottish holidays in what is now one of the UK’s largest National Parks. We can’t wait to have you stay with us in the Royal Cottage and to show off the Trossachs! Click here to find out more about our outdoor fitness retreats.