The Rob Roy Way – Wintery Mix

Trail one of my zig-zag through the Scottish Highlands, The Rob Roy Way, is done and dusted. All things considered, it was probably the most challenging 80 miles of trail I have ever done, for a few reasons.

As the days went on, I discovered a litany of new and telling nicknames for the trail that describe the good, the bad, and the ugly of this seldom-hiked trail.


Day 1 – the Frog Roy Way

We started strong on day one with an early train from Edinburgh to Pitlochry and a warm, sunny day of hiking.

It was one of those days where everything just hit right. The birds singing, the sun shining, and the feeling of being on the trail again after so long put me in a good mood to start the trek out.

We hiked a solid 15 miles, passing many a puddle filled with frog eggs – the first encounter with the local wildlife we would have – hence the name for the day.

This would ultimately prove to be one of the only stretches of decent weather on the entire trail.


Day 2 – the Bog Roy Way

Day two started with a portend of what was to come – the gentle drops of rain on my tent roof. I’m actually a big fan of camping in a light rain (emphasis on LIGHT), so this wasn’t a problem yet.

Day 2’s hiking was really an encapsulation of all the pros and cons of this trail.

We got beautiful views of Loch Tay and the idyllic Perthshire countryside (yay!), during a 10 mile section of pure road walking that destroyed my ankles (boooo).

We got a stunning view of rambling moors and highland peaks in the late afternoon sun (yay!), after trekking through 3 miles of shin-deep water on a boggy, flooded section of trail (booooo).

By the end of it, my feet were soaked, but it wasn’t until the next day that I would come to truly know the meaning of the word “damp.”


Day 3 – the Fog Roy Way

The third day of this trail was definitely testing and gave us a real view of just how much the weather forecast impacts any given hike in the Highlands.

From sunup to sundown, day 3 was all rain, sleet, hail, and wind. Visibility (and morale) was low, as even my hardcore rain gear couldn’t keep the icy wind from chilling my bones all day.

It was the only time in the whole hike where I seriously considered bailing, though I’m glad I didn’t in the end.

There’s not much more to say about this section besides that – it sucked.


Day 4/5 – The Rob Road Way

The last day and a half on the RRW were a lot more of the same in miniature.

Day 4, we had some insane switches in weather – between sun with blue skies and sideways hail and wind within 20 minutes of each other – but not even that surprised us at that point.

An unexpected closure of a section of the trail for forestry work also caused us to take a diversion through more boggy terrain that again soaked our shoes, but again, just more of what we had already seen.

The one part that still got to me was the 6 miles of road walking right at the end of the trail. Even though we had seen it before, it came at the end of a long day and seriously messed up my joints.

Victory pizza ft. toppings of haggis and black pudding

Hobbling into Drymen to finish out the trail felt like a serious victory.



The RRW was definitely a weird one.

I’m glad that I hiked it and overcame the challenge, but would I recommend it to others: ultimately, no.

The views were definitely good, but the combination of road walking and poorly maintained boggy trails makes the way underfoot quite difficult. Add in the insane weather that we experienced, and it became more of an endurance sport than a nice hike. 

It is also not super well way-marked, which led to several frustrating navigation errors.

However, the biggest thing that held it back for me was the lack of trail community. The entire way, I saw maybe one other pair of hikers doing the trail – it was a very solitary experience overall, which made a difficult trail even harder. 

Definitely looking forward to meeting some folks on the much more heavily traveled West Highland Way.

Let me know if you’ve ever slogged through a tough trail in the comments, and as always, happy hiking.


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Comments 3

  • Rebecca S Welch : Mar 28th

    Omg – I’m sorry but I loved this post. It sounds like my living hell, but I could hear your voice in every word! And I’m so glad there was pizza and beer at the end. I just hope there was a way to dry your feet and clothes. Nobody wants trench foot. Hang in there and thanks for words and the pics. Living vicariously – until the rain started that is…

  • Eliot : Mar 28th

    I did the RRW two years ago and I agree it is a bit of a boring hike (as much as that’s possible in such a beautiful area). So many road slogs and views covered by tree plantations, it really doesn’t capture the feel of it’s namesake.
    As for the difficulty I’d say it is not hard, I ended up doing it in just under two days (ran a few downhills out of boredom with the roads). Sure some bits are muddy/boggy but no worse (and a lot better) than other hikes I’ve done in the UK.

    • Blake : Apr 1st

      You’re living your best life!


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