The Village of Crianlarich
The village of Crianlarich (A' Chríon Láraich = "the low pass") grew up around the junction of two military roads which were constructed in the aftermath of the '45, and it received a further boost with the advent of two railways in the late 19th century. With a population of about 185 (2001 census) there is a thriving sense of community and the life of the village is enhanced by its many visitors - it is at the mid-point of the West Highland Way, and at its junction with the Coast-to-Coast walk.
The Upper Station: The West Highland Line
This is now the only railway station in the village and was built in connection with the West Highland Line (Glasgow - Fort William). It was opened on 7 August 1894 and was unique in being equipped with a Dining Room for the convenience of the travelling public. Although the original buildings were destroyed by fire on 30 March 1962 the highly-popular Tea Rooms survive to this day in the replacement building.
The "impressive classical 13-bay engine shed" survived the fire and is now a scheduled building, Grade "C". It is described by Historic Scotland as follows: "The predominantly mirrored West and East elevations have alternating blank and glazed bays with round-arched windows which are divided by pilasters. There is a corbelled eaves course. Both the North and South gabled elevations have oculi windows at the apex."
The Lower Station: The Callander & Oban Line
This was built in connection with the Callander & Oban Railway and was opened on 1 August 1873, by which date the line had been completed as far as Tyndrum. It originally boasted two platforms, but from 1921 only the one closest to the village was retained. The railways were nationalised in 1948 and in the 1960's Dr. Richard Beeching was appointed to report upon the national network, with devastating results. Seizing gratefully upon his Report, the government closed 3000 stations, and destroyed more than 4000 miles of track. (It should be noted that more than 3000 miles of track had already been destroyed since the end of WWII). Dr. Beeching proposed the closure of both the West Highland Line and the Callander & Oban, but the West Highland Line was retained for political reasons. The Oban & Callander was to have been closed on 1 November 1965, but on Monday 27 September of that year a landslide in Glen Ogle made this a de facto event. Crianlarich Lower Station was closed on the same day and it has subsequently been replaced by the modern Community Centre. Although the station has been removed, various traces of the line still exist.
Glenbruar Viaduct: The West Highland Line
This magnificent structure was built to carry the West Highland Line across the earlier-built Callander & Oban Line and towards the Fillan river. RCAHMS record that it "was built by Formans & McCall of Glasgow (engineers), Lucas & Aird of London (contractors) and Alexander Findlay & Co. of Motherwell (steelworkers)" and it opened on 7 August 1894. "It is of lattice girder type and comprises five spans of 35ft. in its 189ft. length". Stone for the piers was obtained from the quarries at Ben Cruachan and transported along the Callander & Oban railway.
Fillan Viaduct: The West Highland Line
Described as in every way identical with the Glenbruar Viaduct. The intervening embankment was created with spoil from the cutting at the head of Glen Falloch. On the opening day, "The Times" newspaper noted that "Through Crianlarich, reckoning both companies' stations and the junction, there are in all 22 trains per diem - 14 on the old line and 8 on the new". The correspondent was troubled by the cost of 4 signal boxes, requiring a total of 6 signalmen at a cost of £1 per week per man.
Parish Church: Church of Scotland
Throughout most of the post-reformation period, Crianlarich was in the parish of Killin, but it enjoyed some religious provision in neighbouring Strathfillan. It was not until 1901 that the present Parish Church was commissioned, to the design of architect Thomas Ross (1839 - 1930). Historic Scotland describes it in glowing terms: "This tiny harled, Gothic, pitched roof church with red sandstone ashlar dressings, buttressing, cill and eaves course and angle margins. remains largely as it was built and its acute sense of proportion coupled with excellent detailing lift it above the norm.
"The West gable has a Geometric window with quatrefoil detailing flanked by buttresses and a small stone cross at the apex. The South elevation is single bay with the lower single bay vestry with its gabel-headed window adjoining at right angles. In the re-entrant angle is the angled entrance which has a 2-leaf timber door and a timber pitched roof bracketed entrance canopy with finial detail. The East elevation is blank. On the North elevation 2 trefoil-headed windows flank a buttress. There are cast-iron rainwater goods.
"INTERIOR "Aisleless, the single bay nave has an open timber roof with a kingpost truss. The interior is whitewashed with a boarded timber dado and there is simple coloured glass to the square leaded panes of the windows. There are boarded timber pews. There is an en suite oak font and communion table with trefoil detailing and a timber pulpit."
Crianlarich is now part of a much enlarged Church of Scotland charge, and services are held on every second Sunday. Other churches have existed, for example the Scottish Episcopal Church opened a mission for railway workers in the village in 1891, served initially by Rev. John Branford and from 1893 by the clergy in Callander; that mission closed in 1894. Another such mission was based in the small corrugated-iron building to be seen beside the northeast side of the road below the Glenbruar Viaduct, known as "The Evergreen". This was the United Free Church Mission Station which was opened in 1910 and operated until 1929.
The War Memorial: World War I
Scotland lost many of her young men during the Great War of 1914-18 and such losses are commemorated in every town and village. The Memorial in Crianlarich is especially fine and is believed to be by Alexander Carrick (1882 - 1966), who worked upon such well-known projects as Eilean Donan Castle and the remarkable St. Conan's Kirk beside Loch Awe. Other war memorials by this artist may be seen at Killin, Lochawe and Oban.
The Crianlarich memorial is of sandstone and was erected in 1922, featuring a kilted soldier in full kit, carved in the round and standing to a height of 2m. The artist's model for this piece was John Stewart Boyle of Forfar, a member of the Black Watch Regiment; members of his family still live locally.
Airplane Memorial: Vickers Viscount
A modest granite memorial in the village commemorates the captain and three crew members of BEA G-AOHI who perished on 19 January 1973 when their aircraft struck the summit of Ben More in difficult weather conditions. The aircraft was on a routine test flight and had no passengers on board.
Crianlarich Community Woodland Project
This splendid walk is not much more than half a mile long but is full of interest, and local schoolchildren have provided interpretive material along the way. It was created in partnership between Strathfillan Community Development Trust and Forestry Commission Scotland. Access is safe and convenient, just walk up beyond the Village Store, and continue by way of the Youth Hostel. In addition to wild flowers and growing trees, visitors may enjoy spectacular views along Glen Dochart and Strathfillan.
Bogle Glen Walk
A circular walk, but reasonably demanding and requires sensible footwear. Walk commences on west side of the railway station; cross the busy main road and follow the sign to West Highland Way. The track climbs steadily to a summit, then joins the West Highland Way proper; at this point, a sign to the right points to the descent along Bogle Glen. This was the ancient trackway, abandoned since about 1750, and it can be wet and slippery underfoot. Eventually this will lead down to another main road - turn right to return to the centre of the village. Do keep close control of any children or pets as for a few hundred metres the route runs alongside the unfenced verge of a major road.
September 7th 1901 - no less than 34 cars passed through Crianlarich in each direction, completing a 115 mile trials course. Of these, 30 were powered by petroleum, 3 by steam and 1 by electricity; 18 were of British manufacture, 11 were French, 3 American and 1 was German.
January 1st 1964, The Times - "The first crossing of the Irish Sea from west to east has been made by a young RAF navigator. Flying Officer Dmitri Sotov, a New Zealander aged 24, flew the 130 miles from RAF Ballykelly, co. Londonderry to Crianlarich, Perthshire, in an Olympic Two sailplane."