Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > Scotland > Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
- Loch Lomond is the largest loch in Scotland, the largest body of fresh water in Britain and probably the most famous after Loch Ness. The southern end of the loch is quite flat, but the scenery soon becomes more mountainous and distinctly wild by the time you reach the north end.
- The Trossachs, Loch Katrine and Loch Array are in the north-east
- Argyll Forest
There is one national park visitor centre:
- National Park Visitor Centre Balmaha, Balmaha, G63 OJQ (in the pretty village of Balmaha, East Loch Lomond), ☏ . A stop-off point for walkers on the West Highland Way, local produce and top-up supplies.
Towns and villages
- Balloch — located at the southern end of Loch Lomond, it is the main town on the loch, and can get busy. The Loch Lomond Shores TIC/visitors centre can help you plan your stay and provide you with close-area maps. Has a railway station.
- Luss — a town without any attractions other than its beautiful appearance and cottages, which are still worth a visit.
- Rowardennan — this village makes a great base to explore Ben Lomond.
- Drymen — good base for the Conic Hill, also a nice pub (claimed to be the oldest in Scotland) and Buchanan castle.
- Tarbet — a large village near the centre of the west shore with railway station
- Inchcailloch — the largest island in the loch
The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park was the first national park established in Scotland. It became fully operational on 19 July 2002 and was officially opened by Princess Anne on 24 July 2002.
The National Park encompasses around 720 sq miles (1,865 km2) of land including the Loch Lomond area and The Trossachs region.
Flora and fauna
ScotRail local trains run frequently from Glasgow's Queen Street Station low level to Balloch which is at the end of the line, taking about 50 minutes, with generally two trains per hour. The station in Balloch is easy to find.
Several trains run daily between Glasgow and Oban, Fort William and Mallaig which stop at Tarbet and Ardlui on the north-west shore and at Crainlarich in the northern part of the park. These leave from the upper level of Glasgow's Queen Street station.
- The A82 road up the shore of Loch Lomond is used by the Citylink buses (3 per day) from Glasgow to Fort William.
- Citylink buses from Glasgow to Campbeltown go up Loch Lomond as far as Tarbet and then pass Arrochar and Cairndow on the way to Inveraray.
- Citylink buses from Edinburgh via Stirling to Fort William pass Callander and Crianlarich.
The First Western bus service towards Balloch pick up passengers at the bus stop opposite McDonald's at Jamaica Street. A full day unlimited travel ticket costs about £4.
Several buses a day between Glasgow and Campbeltown, Oban or Fort William, traveling along the western shore (A82) of the Loch. These will stop at all bus stops north of Balloch, including Luss, Inverbeg, Tarbet and Ardlui.
- From Oban follow the A85, which runs parallel to the train line, and you will enter the park from its north-western boundary. On this route you also pass by Kilchurn Castle at Lake Awe.
- From Stirling follow the A84 and you will enter the park from its eastern boundary at Callander.
Fees and permits
No permit is required to enter the park or explore on foot, by bicycle or by road. Permits may be required for fishing, or some boat use.
An excellent reference tool for planning your journey is the travelinescotland website and journey planner for all bus, rail, coach, air and ferry services in Scotland. Also open 24 hours by phone on 0871 200 22 33.
Buses run along Loch Lomand, but not that frequently. You should check the departure-times first, as timetable are not usually available at the stops. The National Park Authority publishes a timetable of all the buses and ferries which may be available as a booklet locally.
If you're driving, mind that the road along the northern part of Loch Lomond is pretty narrow for the traffic it has.
Sightseeing trips by boat on Loch Lomond run from Loch Lomond Shores near Balloch.
There is also a useful passenger ferry between Inverbeg (served by Citylink buses) and Rowardennan (at the foot of Ben Lomond mountain).
To enjoy the nature, it is best to go by bike. There's a (relatively!) well-maintained and -signposted cycleway from Glasgow to Balloch called National Route 7. A good place to join it is Bells Bridge over the Clyde by the SECC (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center). It's a fairly flat 20–25 miles.
- Queen Elizabeth Forest Park (From Glasgow follow signs on M8 for Aberfoyle. From Stirling/Callander follow A81 to Aberfoyle via Dukes Pass).
- Breadalbane Folklore Centre, Killin (Easily reached from Aberfeldy and Kenmore (via the A827 along the shores of Loch Tay), and from Crianlarich and Lochearnhead (via the A85 and A827)). April to October 10AM - 5PM. Overlooks The Falls of Dochart at the western end of Killin. Discover the story of Scotland's 'High Country'. Adult £2.75, Child (5-16) £1.80.
- 1 The Falls of Dochart, Killin.
- 2 Glen Ogle Viaduct (Between Lochearnhead and Killin). A hiking trail starting in Lochearnhead is described on walkhighlands.
- 3 Inchmahome Priory, Lake of Menteith (along the A81), ☏ . Nov-Mar closed. An Augustinian monastery on an island, where Mary Stuart once hid from Henry VIII. A ferry runs to the island, but is only operated in summer. Lake of Menteith is one of the very few lakes in Scotland referred to as "lake" and not as "loch".
- 4 Falls of Falloch (North of Loch Lommond on the A82 and the West Highland Way).
- 5 Benmore Botanic Gardens. See Dunoon.
- 6 Kilmun Arboretum.
- 7 Loch Lomond Shores, Balloch. See Balloch.
- Balloch Castle Country Park, Balloch. See Balloch.
- Luss Village Paths, Luss (along the A82). A beautiful town with four walks around town and a sandy beach. A map can be picked up at Balloch TIC or at the Luss Visitor Information.
- Hiking is also a good idea. The long-distance West Highland Way also runs along the eastern shore on its way from Milngavie (near Glasgow) to Fort William.
- Hike the West Highland Way. The West Highland Way walking path journeys through some of the finest scenery that Scotland has to offer. Traveling from Glasgow (Milngavie) to Fort William, it crosses the National Park and runs the length of the eastern shore of Loch Lomond.
- 1 Conic Hill (Close to Balmaha). 361 m high.
- 2 Puck's Glen. Walk Highlands has a detailed hiking trail description for this valley.
- Detailed hiking trails in this area can be found on the Walk Highlands webpage.
- Cycling is probably the best outdoor activity besides hiking.
- The Lowland Highland Trail, which is part of the National Cycle Network Route 7 starts from Balloch, going north to Drymen, Aberfoyle, Callander, Strathyre, Lochearnhead and Killin. Free leaflets with a map of the bike trail can be picked up at TICs along the trail.
- Bike the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path. This is a 16.5-mile route between Balloch and Tarbet. Bikes can be hired at the Loch Lomond Shores
- Fishing. You must have a permit or permission.
- 3 Ben Lomond. A very popular climb. A majority of walkers arrive by road on the eastern side of the loch. By public transport your best option is to head to either Tarbet or Luss on the western side and then take the ferry over Loch Lomond to Rowardennan. You have to be early to catch the ferry to Rowardennan as there is only one morning service, so if you want to do Ben Lomond as a day walk this is a must. The ferry costs £11.50 return and takes approximately half an hour each way. There are two routes going up Ben Lomond. The main track which 95% of people take is from the end of the public road a few hundred metres to the south where the main carpark it located. The less taken track is in much better condition are far more peaceful and scenic. It starts a few hundred metres north of the hostel along a private road. You can go up and down the same way or make a circuit of it. From the hostel or carpark taking either route to the summit will take approximately 4.5 hours (3.5 if you're fast). Relax at the hostel grounds before taking the ferry back across. Ben Lomond is 974-m high.
- Highland Gatherings and Games are held at various villages during a summer weekend. Pipe bands, caber-tossing, field & track events and so on; often combined with Agricultural Shows. For instance Kinlochard Highland Gathering is held in mid-July (next event Fri 12 - Sun 14 July 2019); see also entries for Balloch.
Balloch is the only significant shopping centre within the park with the Lomond Shores shopping centre right on the lochside, and other shops in the town. Callander has a supermarket and several other shops. Most villages in the park have a single shop for basics and some also have specialist outlets of interest to visitors.
- Loch Lomond Brewery, Alexandria. (not open for tours). A brewery on the edge of the National Park, which brews a wide range of ales and lagers, available in pubs on draft (cask conditioned) and in bottles. Many beers are named after park features.
As well as in the towns and villages listed above:
- There is a small pub, with outside terrace and nearby pier for boat moorings, on the island of Inchmurrin in the centre of the loch. A ferry is available from Midross, on the A82, to the island.
Unusually for Scotland, wild camping is banned in four areas: West Loch Lomond; East Loch Lomond; Trossachs West and Trossachs North. This is an extension in 2017 of the existing ban on camping at East Loch Lomond. These bylaws were introduced following excessive litter and noise in these areas. Wild camping is permitted in other areas of the park.
- 1 Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel, By Drymen, G63 0AR (It is right on the shore of Loch Lomond, at the end of the road on the Eastern bank), ☏ . Open March–October. On the banks of Loch Lomond, it can be used as a base to climb Ben Lomond.
- 2 Inversnaid Bunkhouse, Inversnaid, FK8 3TU, ☏ .
- 3 Briar Cottages, Lochearnhead, FK19 8PU (M9 Stirling J10, A84 to Lochearnhead, A85), ☏ . Briar cottages are holiday cottages for 4 plus 1 pet in the village of Lochearnhead Perthshire.
- 4 Lomond Woods Holiday Park, Balloch, Alexandria G83 8QP, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Within walking distance of Loch Lomond, this is a campsite with glamping, lodges, static caravans with hot tubs and pitches for mobile caravans. The park has a play area, indoor games room, family and accessible bathrooms, and a laundry.
- 5 Lake of Menteith Hotel, Port of Menteith, Perthshire, FK8 3RA (In Port of Menteith village take your first left onto the B8034 and the hotel is approx 200 yds on the right.), ☏ . The hotel nestles lakeside. £138-240 per room (2 people) including breakfast.
- 6 Cameron House, Balloch. Expensive 5-star hotel with a championship level golf course, a spa and Michelin-star restaurant. Damaged by a fire in December 2017 and temporarily closed.
The following communities are located nearby:
- Doune — features Doune Castle, a 14th-century castle with a great view over the landscape, which was used to portray most of the castles in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- Dunoon — has the Benmore Botanic Gardens.
- Inveraray — see the Kilchurn Castle which is about 20 km north of Inveraray, at Loch Awe.
- Dumbarton — features Dumbarton Castle on top of a rock, overlooking the Firth of Clyde. It was an important royal refuge; take the A82 south.