Killin is an attractive village a little removed from the west end of Loch Tay. Its focal point is the narrow stone bridge carrying the A827 across the River Dochart, and it then lines both sides of the main road for over half a mile heading north-east from the bridge. The village is an important centre for visitors to the area, and comes with a broad range of services including every conceivable type of accommodation plus numerous eating and drinking opportunities. It also has some nicely preserved corrugated iron buildings, including a church.
The location of the village seems in some ways odd. It makes the most of the dramatic Falls of Dochart, a spectacular series of rapids that carry the river under the bridge and through the village. But you could be forgiven for wondering why it didn't end up rather closer to Loch Tay: like Lochearnhead and St Fillans at either end of nearby Loch Earn, or Kenmore at the eastern end of Loch Tay.
In fact, it was only in fairly recent times that the village severed its links with the Loch. In 1886 the Killin Railway (effectively a branch of the Callander & Oban Railway) arrived in Killin from the west, and continued as far as a pier on Loch Tay where it linked with the steamer service that plied the loch. The steamer service along Loch Tay ceased to operate in 1939, and the Killin Railway closed in 1965.
Today it is still possible to find your way along a road that becomes little better than a track to the north-west corner of Loch Tay. What was once the access to the pier is now the garden of a cottage, though pedestrian access to the west end of the loch is still possible from a point a little before the end of the track.
En route, the observant will notice the ruins of Finlarig Castle on the wooded mound to the north of the road, and anyone taking a closer look will also find the nearby ruins of a chapel that served as a mausoleum. But if you are thinking of exploring, take heed of the sign warning of the dangerous state of these structures and don't get too close.
Also at the Loch Tay end of Killin is an excellent caravan site and Killin Golf Club, while a short distance up nearby Glen Lochay is the time capsule that is the Moirlanich Longhouse, in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. Today the main development on the loch itself is the Finlarig Power Station, which generates electricity from water piped from the high up in mountains to the north.
Killin's western end is firmly anchored to the River Dochart bridge, which provides a superb viewpoint over the Falls of Dochart (and some tight squeezes for the traffic and pedestrians). It also gives access to the island on which you find the ancient Clan MacNab burial ground: the locked gate gives information about where to find the key.
Close to the north end of the bridge is the Old Mill. Until its permanent closure at the end of the 2011 season, this was home to the Breadalbane Folklore Centre. The mill has more recently reopened as an arts and crafts shop.
As you move north-east along Killin's single main street anyone with a feel for the hills will find their attention captured by the knobbly ridge towering over the village. This is the Tarmachan Ridge, a complex of mountains forming the western extension of the main Ben Lawers ridge that hems in the north side of Loch Tay.
Killin offers visitors a range of shops including a small supermarket; and we particularly recommend the outdoors shop towards the eastern end of the village. There's no need to go as far as Fort William to acquire that essential bit of kit you left at home. This is especially useful for walkers arriving in Killin while following the 79 mile Rob Roy Way on its route from Drymen to Pitlochry.
Most of Killin's community facilities lie towards the north-eastern end of the village. Here you find the village hall and two churches. The Church of Scotland, dating back to 1744, houses a font said to have its origins in the very early Christian era. Nearby is the Killin Hotel, in front of which you find the Stewart Monument, dedicated to the Minister at Killin who produced the first translation of the Bible into Gaelic in the late 1700s.
One thing Killin doesn't offer the visitor is a petrol station. For this you need to travel a couple of miles south-west to the Lix Toll Garage, at the junction with the main A85. This comes complete with a small collection of unusual Land Rovers.
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