loch lomondCreativecommons.org/Paisley Scotland

The largest loch in Scotland, Loch Lomond is the heart of the Trossachs National Park – Scotland’s first national park. With scenery ranging from flat to mountainous and a collection of small towns throughout, there is much to do and see in the area.

Town Hopping

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Balloch is the largest town in the area and it has an excellent visitors’ centre that can help arrange accommodations if need be. If you take the train to Loch Lomond, this is where you will arrive.

Crianlarich is a great base to use when exploring the Scottish highlands. Nearby Ben More is a favourite walk for most visitors.

Luss is a charming town. It’s full of cute cottages and lovely gardens, but not much else. Rowardennan is also just a cute little village.

Drymen claims to have the oldest pub in Scotland and you can stop in for a pint after a visit to Buchanan Castle.

Tarbet is a large village with a small railway station, and Ardlui can offer you a nice marina and a quiet hotel to stay in.

Those who know their Scottish history know that the highland outlaw Rob Roy spent his final years there and is buried in Balquhidder churchyard in the town of the same name.

Hiking

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Puck’s Glen is an easy walk that starts near the Benmore Botanic Garden and takes you through a canopy of coniferous trees and soft, mossy undergrowth.

Although quite long, the Glen Ogle Path is along an old railway and is mainly flat, easy walking. Allow three or four hours to complete the trail.

Endrick Mouth is also an easy walk and takes you through reed beds and wooded regions.

The Bird of Prey Trail is more of wildlife-watching than exercise. Take it slow, be quiet, and keep an eye out for birds of prey hunting in the wilderness.

An easy climb, but still steep, Conic Hill is worth the effort for the views from the summit. The trail takes you through heather moorland and you will require at least an hour to get to the top.

Inchcailoch is an entire island just begging to be roamed around. A brief ferry ride gets you there and once on land the path can be difficult to navigate in places. The island is large enough to take several days to explore and many visitors decide to camp there for a day or two before returning to explore the rest of the area. Space is limited so book your spot before you get on the ferry.

For hikers in better shape, the park has mountainous areas that attract “Munro Baggers” from all over Scotland. The park has 21 Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) and 19 Corbetts (mountains over 2,500 feet) waiting to be climbed.

The park also has designated climbing venues for visitors who enjoy serious rock climbing. Argyll, Ben Lui and Glen Ogle are some of the favourites.

On The Water

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As you might expect, canoeing and kayaking are both very popular on the loch. Open water paddling on the loch is pleasant, or alternatively, you can take your watercraft up one of the many rivers in the area. Advanced paddlers can challenge their skills on the rapids and falls on the Rivers Falloch, Dochart and Leny.

Windsurfing and sailing can be done on the southern part of Loch Lomond, where the open landscape brings more breezes to the loch. Launch sites for windsurfers and sailors are at Duck Bay and Milarrochy Bay, depending on the direction of the wind.

Speeds are restricted around sailing areas, but farther out on the lake, water-skiers can go as fast as they want. The public launches are at Milarrochy Bay and near Balloch.

Swimming, fishing or just floating in a tube are also a fun way to spend the afternoon at the loch. For a very relaxing afternoon, take the water bus across the lake and have lunch in one of the villages.

Where To Eat

For a treat, Martin Wishart at Cameron House is an elegant option with kilted waiters. The Cruin, which is located north of Balloch, is also a good choice for a fancier dinner.

The tearooms have light meals and are a cozy place to spend a foggy morning, as mornings in Scotland often are. The Wee Blether Tea Room is west of Loch Lomond in Aberfoyle, and it is loved by everyone who has ever eaten there. It offers a wonderful brunch with seating that overlooks Loch Ard. The pastries are homemade and the tea is fantastic.

Where To Stay

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If you are adventurous you can simply stop at one of the hand-painted signs hanging on a fence and ask to see the room. Take note of where the house is, because the sign comes down once the room is booked.

Travelers that prefer knowing they have a secure room can book their stay at the Ardlui Hotel, right on the shores of Loch Lomond. It’s a short walk from the Ardlui train station and has a restaurant. You can also sample many of the local whiskeys at the bar.

Visitors planning a longer stay might consider the Attic Apartments in the village of Arrochar on the west side of Loch Lomond. It offers family rooms, a full kitchen and easy access to the shops. The Attic Apartments are closer to Glasgow and may be a better choice for visitors who are driving.

 

 

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