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The History of Strathyre

The name Strathyre comes from the Gaelic for ‘broad winding valley’ and throughout history it has been a main highway, variously used by drovers and their herds of black Highland cattle en route to market, by armies of various allegiances moving north or south, or by fugitives like the fictional David Balfour and Alan Breck who came this way in 1751 in Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel Kidnapped.

The valley of Strathyre was first settled by crofters cleared from land in Balquhidder Glen to make room for sheep. The original few cottages were built on the west side of the bridge across the river constructed by Major William Caulfield in the late 1700s. These were part of a network of military roads built in the years either side of the 1745 Jacobite uprising.

Today the bridge remains, though the single track road it carries, which runs from here along the west side of the river valley to Balquhidder, is now used more by cyclists than motor vehicles.

Everything changed in Strathyre with the arrival of the Callander & Oban railway, which reached here from the south in 1870. The line, which further south went around the west side of Loch Lubnaig, crossed the river before running through this part of the valley close to the east side of the river. A station was built on the land that now lies between the main road and the river.

With the arrival of the railway, Strathyre very quickly became a popular resort, allowing visitors right into the heart of the Trossachs, an area that the author Sir Walter Scott had done so much to popularise. The old settlement on the east side of the river was quickly overshadowed by a new village along the east side of the valley, as cottages, villas and hotels were rapidly built to provide accommodation for visitors, and for locals pulled in by the new job opportunities created by the tourism boom.

In the late 1800s, Strathyre station became famous for its superb gardening displays, which on one occasion won the stationmaster a ‘best kept station’ award. The prize was an ornamental fountain complete with a statue of a heron. When the station, like the line on which it stood, closed in 1965, the fountain and its heron moved to a nearby garden.

The wild and rugged Strathyre Forest holds a comparatively sheltered valley. This s-shaped glen was chiselled out of the land by the brute force of a glacier during the Ice Age.

Much of the early work by the Forestry Commission in the 1930s and 40s must be attributed to the first Head Forester, Alistair Cameron - a man of vision. He was able to match each tree species with the right soils. This paid handsome dividends not only through his forest's dramatic effect on the landscape but also in the quality timber we now harvest.

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