Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > Scotland > Scottish Highlands > Argyll and Bute > Tarbet
- For other places with the same name, see Tarbert (disambiguation).
Tarbet is a village on Loch Lomond in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. In Gaelic An Tairbeart means a place where boats can be dragged overland from one body of water to another, and Tarbet is the east side of the pinch of land separating freshwater Loch Lomond from the sea at Loch Long. Arrochar is the village two miles away on the west side. Both lochs are fjords, scooped out by glaciers.
A famous dragging of boats was in 1263 when Vikings sailed up Loch Long, crossed to Loch Lomond and raided the settlements along its shores. But there are several places called "Tarbert" in the Highlands - make clear when taking transport or setting Satnav that you want to go to Tar-BET on Loch Lomond.
Tarbet and Arrochar are good bases for exploring the west bank of Loch Lomond, but they're far from peaceful. All the traffic from Glasgow to the Highlands and Hebrides is funnelled this way, so the roads are pounding with trucks and buses at all hours, plus city day-trippers at weekends. You need to get away into the hills or out onto the water to enjoy it. One location for watersports on the loch is Ardlui eight miles north of Tarbet; its facilities are also described on this page.
By train: 1 Arrochar and Tarbet Station is on the West Highland Railway and has trains every couple of hours from Glasgow Queen Street, taking 80 mins via Dumbarton and Helensburgh. They continue north via Ardlui to Mallaig or Oban, for ferries to the Hebrides. One train a day is the Caledonian Sleeper, leaving London Euston Sun-Fri nights around 21:00 to reach Arrochar & Tarbet shortly before 07:00, and continuing via Ardlui to Fort William. The southbound return train picks up around 22:00 to reach Euston by 08:00.
By bus: Citylink buses from Glasgow Buchanan pass through Tarbet about six times a day, and every couple of hours M-Sat in summer. The buses for Campbeltown (#926) and Oban (#976) turn west here and serve Arrochar, six per day in summer, following A83 towards Inveraray. The 926 then continues southwest to Lochgilphead, Tarbert (Loch Fyne) (yes, one of the other Tarberts) and down the Argyll peninsula to Campbeltown, while the 976 branches north to Taynuilt and Oban. Other buses stay on A82 along Loch Lomond via Ardlui to Crianlarich and Tyndrum, then north through Glencoe to Fort William and Skye.
By bike: a waymarked cycle path runs from Balloch at the south end of the loch, with frequent trains from Glasgow Queen St, along bypassed loops of road and purpose-built track to Luss and Tarbet, 17 miles in all. It's level going and suitable also for hikers, wheelchairs and horses.
Tarbet and Arrochar are two miles apart along a busy main road. There's a sidewalk but it's no fun, with trucks thundering past and showering you from the puddles. Ardlui is eight miles north of Tarbet and the road is equally busy with no sidewalk.
April-Oct a waterbus crosses Loch Lomond five times a day between Tarbet and Inversnaid, plus one service to Rowardennan. There's no onward transport from either, so take your bike or plan a long hike, the timetable suggests some itineraries. At the north end of the loch, the waterbus runs hourly on demand between Ardlui and Ardleish on the west bank: this is an access / bailout point for the West Highland Way. Luss 8 miles south on A82 has more connections across the loch, reaching Balloch, Balmaha, Inchcailloch and Rowardennan.
Garelochhead Bus 302 runs three times M-Sat from Helensburgh via Luss, Tarbet, Arrochar, and over Rest And Be Thankful to Lochgoilhead, with one per day continuing to Carrick Castle.
Bus 305 runs every couple of hours M-Sat between Alexandria, Balloch and Luss but doesn't reach Tarbet / Arrochar.
- Any short walk above the villages will be rewarded by views over the loch and mountains beyond.
- Boat trips cruise around Loch Lomond, eg Sweeney's Cruises, but they mostly sail from Balloch at the south end of the loch.
- Climb 1 The Cobbler aka Ben Arthur (884 m / 2900 ft). It's a distinctive triple peak, the highest central summit being a difficult scramble. Start from the car park on A83 at Succoth just north of Arrochar and allow 4-6 hours. 2 Ben Vorlich at 943 m / 3094 ft is a Munro; it has several routes but is perhaps easiest climbed from Inveruglas five miles north of Tarbet on A82. Note there's another Ben Vorlich on Loch Earn.
- Freshwater activities on Loch Lomond include water-skiing, wakeboarding and kayaking. Try the Ardlui Hotel, or head south to Inverbeg and Luss.
- Scuba diving: you definitely want to be in the sea at Loch Long, not in dull peaty Loch Lomond. Loch Long remains sheltered when other spots are blown out, with walk-in dives from the A83 west of Arrochar, anywhere you can park safely. Look for drowned beaches from the Ice Ages, marine life around the abandoned jetties, and deeper down are conger eels rolling their goofy eyes at you.
- Luss Highland Games are held at Luss 8 miles south of Tarbet on the first Saturday in July. Events include caber-tossing, dancing and pipe bands.
- The RBS Mobile Bank visits Tarbet (as of mid 2019) on Weds at 11:10-11:25, parking by the post office near the road junction, and Arrochar on Weds at 14:10-14:50, parking by the community hall on Church St.
- 1 Slanj, Station Road, Tarbet. Daily 09:00:00-22:00. Scottish restaurant and bar in an old church by the railway station. Friendly & dog-friendly place, good variety and huge portions, so wolf them down since "slanj" is from the Gaelic for "health".
- 2 Drover's Inn, Inverarnan G83 7ZZ (2 miles north of Ardlui). Pub and restaurant with occasional live music. Also has rooms. mains from £10.
- Ben Arthur Bothy on Arrochar main street is open daily 11:00 till midnight or later.
- In Tarbet there's B&B at Innischonain House and 3 self-catering cottages.
- Lomond View Country House, Tarbet G83 7DG, ☏ . Closed throughout 2019.
- 1 [dead link] Bay Tarbet Hotel, Main Street G83 7DE (junction of A83 & A82), ☏ . 3-star hotel often used by coach tours. 2 nights minimum stay for individual travellers, only half board available. Quality mostly okay, some real off-days. Half board from £100 / night.
- In Arrochar B&Bs include Fascadail House, An Còrr, Rowan Tree Cottage, Lochside and Ashfield House. Plus self-catering.
- Arrochar hotels are 2 Loch Long Hotel north end of the village, and Village Inn south end.
- 3 Ardlui Hotel, Ardlui G83 7EB. Hotel and holiday home park at north end of Loch Lomond, also with self-catering lodges, camping pods and caravan pitches. B&B double £120, caravan pitch £21, pods £35, tents £7 ppn.
- Ardlui Retreat is upmarket self-catering accommodation 400 yards south of Ardlui Hotel.