Top-Rated Tourist Attractions Around Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond, Britain's largest lake, is just a short drive northwest of Glasgow. Referred to by author Walter Scott as "The Queen of Scottish Lakes", this lovely loch is a huge draw for anglers and boasts plentiful trout, salmon and whitefish. It's also hugely popular amongst daytrippers, watersport enthusiasts, hikers and bikers, as well as those simply drawn by the wonderful scenery. Boat trips around the loch are always popular, as are longer treks up majestic Ben Lomond (3,192 ft) with its spectacular views.
Loch Lomond is a great first stop when touring the Western Highland Way from Glasgow through the beautiful Argyll countryside to Fort William. Cameron House at the south end of the loch is an excellent place to savor the romance of a Scottish castle, breathe in the lakeside air and enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities. An old folk song about Loch Lomond known the world over is one reason why the area attracts so many sightseers. The verses tell of two Scottish soldiers after the Jacobite uprising of 1745, one of whom is executed while the other was free to roam the "bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond".
1 Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park - Britain's fourth largest national park - covers an area of 720 sq mi with Loch Lomond at its center. It also incorporates a number of mountain ranges, including The Munros and Ben Lomond, as well as the Corbett peaks. The area is extremely popular with outdoor enthusiasts, drawn here for things to do such as hiking, biking, boating, canoeing and kayaking. For those seeking a more sedate pace, visit the National Park Centre located in Balmaha with its displays regarding the area's history and geology, a variety of easy trails, as well as events such as craft and arts shows.
Hours: National Park Centre - Mon-Fri, 8:30am-5pm
Location: Carrochan, Carrochan Rd, Balloch
2 The Island of Inchmurrin
The largest of Loch Lomond's numerous islands, Inchmurrin was once home to a 7th century monastery and chapel dedicated to Saint Mirin. It's also where you'll find the ruins of 8th century Lennox Castle, famous as a hunting lodge used by King Robert I and later robbed by the legendary Rob Roy. The island is also famous as the place where the first ever "haggis-hurling" world record was set in 1984. Although privately owned, it's popular with tourists (particularly canoeists, kayakers and pleasure boaters) for its self-catering cottages and restaurant.
Location: Inchmurrin Island, Loch Lomond
3 Maid of the Loch
The sole survivor of a long line of paddle steamers based on Loch Lomond, Maid of the Loch was built in 1953 and was the last such vessel to serve the train loads of tourists who would visit the area from far and wide. Located at its berth at Balloch, the ship and its unique steam slipway are being restored prior to once again offering excursions. Until then, the ship continues to welcome visitors to view displays regarding its history, as well as that of its predecessors who plied the loch since the 1880s. A tea shop and gift shop are also on-site.
Hours: Sat, 11am-4pm (Apr-May); Daily, 11am-4pm (June-Aug)
Address: Loch Lomond Steamship Company, The Pier, Pier Rd, Balloch
4 The West Highland Way
One of Scotland's most popular hiking routes, the 96 mi West Highland Way attracts close to 100,000 walkers annually. Trails follow the banks of Loch Lomond as it winds from Milngavie near Glasgow all the way to Fort William - taking in Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, (4,406 ft), along the way. A good place to pick up the trails is Ptarmigan Lodge in Rowardennan, from where you can take the Lochside path for a mile until reaching a crag called Rob Roy's prison. This is where Roy was said to hold hostages. You'll also pass the Inversnaid and Beinnglas Falls before reaching Glen Falloch.
5 Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
Queen Elizabeth Forest Park is a large area of land between Loch Lomond and the Trossachs that has been part of the Forestry Commission since 1928. Footpaths, bike, and nature trails are just some of the ways to explore this beautiful countryside. The excellent Lodge Forest Visitor Centre is the best place to begin an excursion. Located a mile north of Aberfoyle, the lodge includes a café and shop, pathways leading to a lovely waterfall, the Red Squirrel Hide and treetop trekking.
Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm
6 Loch Katrine and the SS Sir Walter Scott
Loch Katrine takes its name from the lawless Catterin family who once instilled fear on the lakeside's inhabitants. The tiny island at the eastern end of this 8 mi lake is known as Ellen's Island, after the heroine in Walter Scott's famous poem, Lady of the Lake. A popular daytrip includes a trip aboard the SS Sir Walter Scott, a former steamer (it now runs on biofuel) built in 1900. The boat travels from Stronachlachar in the west to the Trossachs Pier, dropping passengers off to explore the hills and discover spectacular views. The loch is one of the few in the area where boating isn't permitted (it provides drinking water to Glasgow), which has resulted in an abundance of wildlife, including rare breeds of waterfowl.
7 Inveraray Castle
Pretty Inveraray makes a good base for tours of both the southern and western sections of the Highlands. Situated on the banks of Loch Fyne and surrounded by wooded hillsides, the town was the setting for several novels by Sir Walter Scott as well as stories by Robert Louis Stevenson and works by local poet Neil Munro. The principal attraction is Inveraray Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Argyll. This lovely fairytale castle with its round corner towers and turreted conical roofs was built in the middle of the 18th century on the foundations of a medieval fortress. Fine period furniture, tapestries and gilded stucco ornaments decorate the elegant lounges. Displays include a large collection of weapons and an amazing range of fine porcelain, as well as family portraits by Gainsborough, Kneller, Raeburn, Ramsay and Hoppner. Afterwards, pay a visit to the Inveraray Jail and the Inveraray Maritime Experience, home to the three-masted schooner Arctic Penguin, launched 1911.
Hours: Daily, 10am-5:45pm (Apr-Oct)
Admission: Adults, £10; Children (under 16), £7; Families, £29
Location: Inveraray, Argyll
8 Auchindrain Township
Located 6 mi southwest of Inveraray, Auchindrain Township is a small farming community maintained in its original condition. The traditional longhouses and peasant cottages aim to show how the rural population of the West Highlands lived during the late 19th century. Apart from the smallholders of Auchindrain who grew their cereal crops, potatoes and root vegetables on the flat land and then grazed their sheep and cattle on the hillsides, the township was also home to the "cottars" who as payment for their work received a small plot of land which they were allowed to cultivate. The farmers' longhouses consisted of a living room, a small side room, kitchen, toilet and barn or stables all under one roof, while the cottars eked out a very humble existence in a simple hut. The Visitor Centre offers interesting displays regarding the lifestyle of the township's former residents (it was only vacated in the 1960s), as well as a shop and café (check for daily specials made to recipes once common to the township).
Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm (Apr-Oct)
Address: Auchindrain, Furnace, Inveraray, Argyll
9 The Rob Roy Story
Located in the picturesque town of Callander - gateway to the Trossachs, the Rob Roy Visitor Centre is dedicated to portraying the life and times of one of Scotland's most contentious sons. While most in Scotland regard Rob Roy as a heroic clan leader, he was also widely known as a cattle thief and blackmailer. In addition to exhibits and fascinating details of his exploits, the centre shows films detailing the history of Roy as well as the Trossachs, where he made his home. Demonstrations of period costumes and kilt-wearing area also provided.
Location: Ancaster Square, Callander