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Perthshire

Aberfoyle – Famed Through Literature

The River Forth flows from the vast mountain range known as the Trossachs. Locally it is known as ‘Abhainn Dhubh’, which means black river when it is translated. On its long journey from the mountains it passes through the quaint little village of Aberfoyle that is situated southeast of Perthshire in Scotland.

In times past it was said that the little village of Aberfoyle was ‘born of nothing’ since, unlike other settlements that sprang up at trade cross-roads or near good farm land, this little village was built beside a solitary little bridge that spanned the meandering River Forth – not the perfect place to establish a home or business. It started out as an inn and a few slate quarries. The reason for this peculiar location has never quite been understood for the road led to nowhere in particular. Nevertheless, the quiet and obscure existence of Aberfoyle ended in 1810 when Sir Walter Scott wrote his historical romance ‘The Lady of the Lake’. The book was inspired by and written in the village of Aberfoyle in Scotland. Many of the small characteristics that made up the village were also used in the book ‘Rob Roy’. These literary marvels resulted in a massive surge of tourism to this previously unknown town. In fact tourism grew to the point that the Duke of Montrose found it necessary to build a road to cope with the influx of tourists to the small village in 1829. The road became known as ‘Duke’s Road’. It began at Aberfoyle and ran all the way to Loch Katrina. Just over a hundred and seven years later in 1936, the Duke’s Road was closed off and converted to a toll road – the last of its kind in Scotland. Today both toll houses stand as private homes in a bustling tourist village.

By the 1800’s slate became a prime commodity for the area. In fact, Aberfoyle and the surrounding area became the third largest source of slate in the country, supplying a whopping 1.4 million tons per a year. The mines hit their peak in the 1930’s when Aberfoyle Slate was chosen for use in the construction of billiard tables on the prestigious luxury liner, the Queen Mary. This success was facilitated by the development of a railway terminus in 1882 that also served the tourist industry. After a short and prosperous run however, the demand for slate came to a sudden halt. This forced the railway station to close its doors in 1951. It was not much longer before the quarries themselves met the same fate. Today the little village of Aberfoyle continues to profit from tourism as it serves as a southern entry point to the beautiful Trossachs. This striking part of the country has often been called “Scotland in miniature”. While some wonder if these vast mountains would have achieved half the fame that they enjoy now with without the influential literary touch of the great Sir Walter Scott, others feel that the striking views from the mountains as they stretch out to the lakes on the east and north are so beautiful that they call attention to themselves.