The famous exploits of the outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor have left a lasting legacy on the landscape of Scotland and, in particular, The Trossachs and Highland Perthshire. He was not, however, the only member of his clan to be cast out and hunted down and, hidden away on craggy slopes high above Dunalastair Reservoir, near Kinloch Rannoch, there is another MacGregor bolthole, this one dating from earlier times.
Romanticised in later years by the Victorians, it lies at the end of an enjoyable walk that dips to the reservoir before looping up through oak woodland to the subterranean sanctuary and a grand viewpoint opposite.
While the track down to the reservoir leaves the road at Crossmount Lodge, there is no parking here, so begin at the entrance to Lassintullich Forest. The initial stretch of road walking is pleasant enough, a single-track lane meandering through woodland to the lodge, which guards the gates of Crossmount House, an impressive 19th century mansion located further down the track.
Approaching the white, two-storey house, the route bears left, curving around the grounds, passing a cluster of outbuildings as it descends towards Dunalastair Reservoir. Levelling off, the way hugs the shoreline of the loch, Beinn a’Chuallaich dominating the view across the water, to Bridge Cottage.
The path to the cave branches right at a marker post by the cottage, climbing below a canopy of mature trees to a high gate leading into oak woodland. Weaving through the trees, the path loops up round the slope before dipping to cross a stream. Stepping stones safely negotiated, continue below looming crags to the cavern.
Local legend has it that the cave – little more than a cleft in the rocks at the time – was one of several hideouts used by the MacGregors after the clan was outlawed by King James VI in 1603.
Not all evaded capture. It is said that three men were discovered here by Redcoats and, after being pursued down the rocky hillside to the river, they were brutally slain.
The cave of today owes much to the Victorian obsession with follies. Walls, doorways and a window were added in the 19th century, creating a summerhouse of sorts, a place to picnic at the end of a genteel country stroll.
Across the path from the cave, a rocky promontory offers a suitably impressive vista over the Tummel valley towards the ruins of Dunalastair House, a Victorian mansion and, in its days, a far grander country retreat than the draughty hideaway lurking in the trees.