The gateway to the Trossachs, where Scottish tourism was born, Callander has a long tradition of welcoming visitors.
At the meeting place of two rivers, the old village here was extended after the quelling of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion when the local landowning Drummonds, on the losing side, had their estates forfeited. The new work ordered by the government agents included a fine town square and a simple pattern of wide streets. Before the end of the 18th century, the local minister recorded ‘The Trossachs are often visited by persons of taste, who are desirous of seeing nature in her rudest and unpolished state’.
The new industry of tourism brought prosperity to Callander and for more than two centuries the little town has welcomed visitors. Today, there is a good range of shops - outdoor clothing is a speciality, cafes and hotels, and the general air of bustle in the summer season. Callander’s other feature is its natural attractions, Callander Crags and Bracklinn Falls, just a few minutes walk from the main street.
Accommodation in Callander:
There are hotels at all price levels in and around Callander. Guest house and B&B accommodation offers plenty of choice. There are traditional and Victorian houses within the town and also accommodation in small communities such as Strathyre and Port of Menteith. Self catering properties range from town flats, apartments in country houses, chalets and even wigwams! There is a good selection of caravan parks
As well as being within easy distance of a range of places of interest in Stirling, there is plenty to see near Callander, including, for families, Blair Drummond Safari Park and Ardgaty Red Kites. Both Doune Castle and Inchmahome Priory played significant parts in Scotland’s story. Rob Roy’s Grave at Balquhidder is still as place of pilgrimage. From Callander, most visitors also travel the Duke’s Road through the Trossachs to Aberfoyle, many also cruising on Loch Katrine.
As part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, there is an emphasis on the outdoors, with a huge choice of walking routes at all levels. The trackbed of the railway that formerly ran from Callander north through the Pass of Leny is a very scenic cycle route. Angling is popular on the Rivers Teith and Leny, and on the lochs of the Trossachs. Pony trekking is available close to Callander and the town also has an exceptionally attractive golf course. Experienced white-water canoeists find the Pass of Leny a challenge.
The Trossachs were visited by the earliest tourists before the end of the 18th century, then the Romantic poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. But it was Sir Walter Scott’s ‘blockbuster’ ‘The Lady of the Lake’ in 1812 that assured the fame of this area of hills and lochs so readily accessible from Scotland’s populated central belt. The vessel named after him, the SS Sir Walter Scott, has cruised on Loch Katrine for more than 100 years.
Appearing to loom over Callander’s main street, Ben Ledi is a popular day excursions for fit walkers. At 2883ft (879m) it is to be respected, especially on shorter winter days. It was formerly associated with Celtic Beltane rites and fire ceremonies on 1 May, but is also popularly climbed to view the midsummer sunset.
A ‘legend in his own lifetime’ and popular folk hero, Rob Roy was born at the west end of Loch Katrine in the Trossachs. He is associated with many places near Callander, especially the kirkyard at Balquhidder, where he is buried. Kirkton Glen, behind the church here, was a once important through-route, known to Rob in his droving days.
Callander Highland Games are held in the last weekend of July and there are at least three other gatherings taking place in the main season within easy reach of Callander. There is a summer season of music in Balquhidder Church as well as live music of all kinds in Callander plus the town’s Jazz and Blues Festival at the start of October.
Further information: www.incallander.co.uk