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Looking North Along Glen Roy: The "Parallel Roads" Can Clearly Be Seen
Looking North Along Glen Roy: The "Parallel Roads" Can Clearly Be Seen

A narrow single-track road turns north off the A86 in Roybridge and runs past St Margaret's Church and Manse. The road runs for nearly ten miles along Glen Roy before coming to an end in the midst of some impressive mountain scenery.

Crofts in Glen Roy
Crofts in Glen Roy
Battle of Mulroy Memorial
Battle of Mulroy Memorial

En route it climbs steeply past a parking area on the flank of Beinn a Mhonicag. The views north from here take in a considerable length of the glen and make this the best place from which to appreciate the most spectacular example of a landscape formed in the last ice age to be found anywhere in Britain.

The Parallel Roads
The Parallel Roads

The key are the "parallel roads". These perfectly parallel "tracks" run along both sides of the glen at heights of 260m, 325m and 350m. Long held in folklore to be hunting paths used by the Celtic warrior Fingal, they could equally be mistaken by modern eyes for forestry tracks.

They are actually lines left by the shoreline of a vast loch that filled Glen Roy some 10,000 years ago, held in place by a dam of ice formed by the head of a glacier that advanced from the south west.

As the glacier advanced, so the water it trapped in the glen deepened in stages, cutting shoreline ledges through wave action at each stage. When the glacier eventually retreated the water drained away, leaving the landscape you see today.

The scale of the changes wrought by the ice age is brought home when you realise that the upper lines are much higher than the parking area you are standing in: the glacier would have had to fill all of the lower land to the south and west of where you are standing.

Glen Roy has one more claim to fame. A stone cairn half a mile north of Roybridge remembers the nearby site of the Battle of Mulroy. This took place on 4 August 1688 and was the last inter-clan battle fought in Scotland. The memorial notes that the MacDonells of Keppoch defeated the Mackintoshes.

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