Created as recently as 2002, ‘Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park’ was Scotland’s first National Park. Handily located at the southern edge of the Highlands and within easy reach of Glasgow, this adventure playground is centred around the largest lake in mainland Britain. But with such a varied landscape, including rolling hills, mountains and woodland, there is plenty to do on foot and bike, as well as taking to the water on the beautiful lochs.
The main tourist focus is along the west side of Loch Lomond, with its eastern shore being much quieter and benefiting from having the West Highland Way walking route running down its length. Head this way, and explore the area stretching out to the west of Callander, to escape the crowds who have made the short journey to the national park from Glasgow and often you will find you have much of this wonderful landscape all to yourself. Here are our hints and tips for visit to Loch Lomond & The Trossachs.
Favourite Village: Balmaha
Balmaha is picturesque village on the quieter eastern shores of Loch Lomond, and makes a great base for exploring the area. It’s situated right on the ‘Highland Boundary Fault’, where the Highlands meet the lowlands, so take one of the short walks mentioned below, which start from behind the village, for fantastic views over the Loch and to see the mountainous highlands stretching off into the distance. While there, take a look inside the interesting National Park visitor centre which explains the geology of the area.
There’s also plenty of opportunity to take to the water with a number of companies offering cruises around Loch Lomond from the village. Consider taking a trip to the island of Inchcailloch or, if you are feeling energetic, you can hire a canoe or rowing boat and explore loch on your own.
A special mention should also go to the Oak Tree Inn, which is at the heart of the village. It’s a modern yet rustic pub/restaurant serving up some Scottish classics. The bar also boasts a very impressive malt whisky collection and their sister company, Balmaha Brewing Co, provides some of their ales. Excellent food is served, including a signature Arctic Char dish. Also keep an eye out for the ‘locally caught haggis’ which often appears on the menu…!
Favourite Long Walk: Ben Lomond
Ben Lomond is the most southerly ‘Munro’ (mountains over 3000 feet) and, at 3195ft, towers over the eastern shores of Loch Lomond. It is one of the most popular Munros, rewarding you at the top with fantastic views of the length of Loch Lomond and far into the Highlands to the north and the Trossachs to the east. The walk starts from the car park at Rowardennan and you should allow 5 and a half hours to complete the walk. A word of warning though; this is a serious mountain walk -weather conditions can change in an instant so be prepared (and carry a map and compass!). A route description from Walking Highlands can be found at the bottom of this page.
Favourite Short Walk: Millennium Forest Walk
If Ben Lomond sounds a bit like hard work, the Millennium Forest Walk out of Balmaha is a great short walk. The path gently climbs up to the site of Craigie Fort - which gives great views over Loch Lomond - before returning via a path cut out of the rock on the edge of the loch.
The starting point for the Millennium walk is also the beginning for the much steeper walk up to the top of Conic Hill, which is on the Highland Boundary Fault. This hillwalk also provides fantastic views over Loch Lomond and its many islands. Make sure you look out for the waymarkers at the beginning of the walk (which is at the back of the car park in Balmaha) to ensure you set off on the correct route!
Favourite Activity: Cycling at Loch Katrine
Pretty Loch Katrine is right at the heart of the Trossachs. This beautiful loch can be explored on a cruise on board the historic SS Sir Walter Scott but if you are feeling more active, an excellent full day activity is to hire a bike from Katrinewheelz by the Trossachs Pier, take one of the cruise boats to Stonachlachar and cycling back round the scenic north side of the loch. Advance booking on the steamer is necessary to reserve space for your bike.
Favourite Pub: Drovers Inn
Traditional pub classics (all proudly Scottish, as are the kilted serving staff!) are served up in this welcoming, and very traditional, inn. Rumours of ghosts abound and the decor and furniture look as though they have not been changed or altered for hundreds of years. Watch out for the variety of stuffed animals (including the full size grizzly bear in the entrance). It’s a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed when visiting this part of the world.
If you would like some help planning your trip to Loch Lomond & The Trossachs or anywhere else in Britain, just get in touch.