Both a glen and village, Balquhidder is located west of the A84, between Strathyre and Lochearnhead. The kirkton or village lies at the head of Loch Voil and has the remains of a number of pre-historic sites including a stone circle, the Puidrac Stone, and a Neolithic burial chamber cairn to the east. The glen extends 12 miles west passing Loch Voil and Loch Doine before the road ends with a public car park. Balquhidder in Scottish Gaelic is Both Chuidir or Both Phuidir meaning the hut of ‘Cuidir’.
With its long history of habitation, and much visited by artists and poets for its scenery, it is its quality as the living, working Highlands that endures. The glen has many important associations with the archetypal Scottish hero immortalised by Sir Walter Scott, Rob Roy MacGregor, who is buried at Balquhidder. The village attracts many visitors who come to see Rob Roy’s grave in Balquhidder Kirkyard. Rob Roy lived and died in the village. After his principal creditor, James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose seized his lands, Rob Roy waged a private blood feud against the duke until 1722, when he was forced to surrender. Later imprisoned, he was finally pardoned in 1727. He died in his house at Inverlochlarig Beg, Balquhidder, on 28 December 1734.
Balquhidder possesses a jewel-like quality, acting as a highly coloured mosaic of cultural and natural elements. A working landscape of farm and forestry, features of past use are still visible, in Balquhidder. Rocks, often weathered into curious shapes, scatter the hillsides, alongside beautiful woodlands and wood pasture lochs, rapids, waterfalls, rocky burns and rivers, and magnificent uplands.
Open upland hills are a characteristic of all the highland area of the National Park, but are distinctive in the Balquhidder area as being generally higher and more unbroken, with distinct exposed upper slopes which sit beyond the enclosed glens. The Glen of Balquhidder has changing qualities along its twelve mile length, from the broad lower glen with the meandering River Balvag, through the Braes of Balquhidder alongside Loch Voil, then into the remote, craggy upper glen with its strong sense of wildness. In the middle, the broad expanse of Loch Voil and its attendant Loch Doine fill most of the glen floor, contributing to the exceptional views looking both up and down the glen.
The area includes the National Park’s only ‘core wild land’ and the more extensive nature means that qualities of wildness, solitude, remoteness and tranquillity can be more readily appreciated. Balquhidder Glen probably represents one of the Park’s least disturbed landscapes, retaining a sense of tranquillity and remoteness of time and place that underpins the glen’s spiritual qualities; this is fitting considering that the Celts described the area as a ‘thin place’, where the boundaries between Earth and Heaven were especially narrow.
Balquhidder has many scenic walking routes, including the Rob Roy Way, Kirkton Glen and Creag an Tuirc. There are also a number of paths that lead out into the surrounding mountains including the Munros Cruach Ardrain (1046m) and Beinn Tulaichean (946m).
Glen Buckie, now a quiet backwater on the south side of Balquhidder Glen, was the scene of one of the last acts of the 1745 Jacobite rising.