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Loch Lomond / Trossachs National Park, Scotland

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Did You Know…?

  • Loch Lomond is Britain’s largest inland body of fresh water (27 square miles).
  • Loch Katrine inspired Sir Walter Scott’s poem, “The Lady of the Lake.”
  • Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped” was set in the Trossachs.
  • The famous outlaw Rob Roy hid out in the dense forests of the Trossachs.
  • The word for a Scottish mountain, munro, refers to Sir Hugh Munro, the first person to list Scotland’s peaks (1891).

Of lochs and munros

In a land were lakes are called lochs and mountains are called munros, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park preserves and protects a variable collection of such lochs and munros and a lot more.

Park scenes also include idyllic glens, meandering rivers, forests and woodlands, diverse wildlife and, finally, picturesque villages that among them accommodate around 15,000 people. Extending across 720 square miles, the park presents a quintessential Scottish landscape in all its variety, including both Highlands and Lowlands turf.

Visitors’ options range from leisurely walking to vigorous hiking and mountain climbing, sailing on a steamship to waterskiing and windsurfing. The villages are made for exploring — and shopping, too. The outlaw/hero, Rob Roy MacGregor, who hailed from the Trossachs, is buried at the village of Balquhidder inside the park.

Located in central Scotland, the park is about 25 miles from Glasgow and still closer to Stirling, making for easy day trips from either city. Alternately, enthusiasts may overnight in the park’s villages or camp in park facilities with varying levels of rusticity.

Further, the park is no great distance from 14th century battlefields (Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn) that figured prominently in Scotland’s fight for independence, the former site all the better known from the 1995 movie, “Braveheart.”

It is helpful to understand the park has four distinct parts:

  • Loch Lomond, the long, narrow lake that extends north-south through the middle of the park, offers choices for water-based recreation. Several of the park’s villages are on Lomond’s shores.
  • The Trossachs, located on the park’s eastern side, encompasses Loch Katrine, inspiration to writers and source of water for much of Glasgow, and Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, one of the areas for viewing wildlife.
  • Breadalbane, north of the Highland Boundary Fault, gives visitors a taste of the fabled Scottish Highlands with several of the park’s munros (specifically, mountains taller than 3,000 feet) suitable for vigorous hikes.
  • Argyll Forest Park, on the park’s west, is an ancient woodland. Topographical features include Ben Arthur, a munro often called the Cobbler, and lochs (Long and Goil) that are home to seals and porpoises.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Spend a few days exploring the park by selecting and walking several of its waymarked paths.
  • Climb to the summit of Ben Arthur, a mountain also known as the Cobbler. Other popular choices for climbs are Ben Vorlich above Loch Earn and Ben Lui, south of Glen Lochy, whereas Glen Ogle is considered a premier Scottish sport climbing site.
  • Traveling in cold months? Winter climbing choices include the waterfall ice at Eas Anie.
  • Go waterskiing or sailing on Loch Lomond. Or make that windsurfing.
  • Cycle the Glen Ogle Trail between Lochearnhead and Killin. The trip takes you over an impressive viaduct, which spans part of Glen Ogle. Then, relax in the picturesque village of Killin.
  • Camp in the park. Choose wild camping, which involves hiking to selected out-of-the-way sites (no vehicular access), traveling light and in small numbers, and short stays of two or three nights in any single place.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Look for grazing deer in the park. Red and roe deer can be found in Queen Elizabeth and Argyll Forest parks. Bring binoculars and look for fantastic birds of prey, as well.
  • Canoeing or kayaking are options on the calm Loch Lomond.
  • Follow a couple of most unusual trails. One is the Loch Ard Sculpture Trail, starting in Aberfoyle taking you to wood statues carved by chainsaws and sound posts that emit the calls of local wildlife. Or, follow the Fairy Knowe Trail looking for an old Scots pine tree notable for decorations meant for the fairies said to inhabit Doon Hill.
  • Remember the fabled outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor by following the Rob Roy Way. It passes through Aberfoyle and Callander. Rob Roy’s grave is in the churchyard at Balquhidder in the park.
  • Choose Loch Lomond for a day of fishing.
  • Allow time to explore the appealing lakeside towns and villages on Loch Lomond’s shore, such as Balloch, Balmaha and Tarbet. Use the waterbus service to get around.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Cruise Loch Katrine aboard the historic steamship, Sir Walter Scott.
  • Pursue an interest in Scotland’s independence wars of the Middle Ages with visits to the National Wallace Monument overlooking the scene of the Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297) and the Bannockburn battlefield (1314) and Bannockburn Heritage Centre.
  • Soak up the charms of Stirling, once Scotland’s capital, and its castle, the favorite seat of the Stuart kings for 800 years.
  • Explore the quaint shops in Callander at the park’s perimeter. And put Luss — on Loch Lomond’s western shore — on the itinerary; it is a conservation village once important in the cotton and slate industries.
  • Spot porpoises and seals in the sheltered waters of Loch Long and Loch Goil.
  • Play the game at the Loch Lomond Golf Club, which hosts the Scottish Open each year.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult VisitScotland at www.visitscotland.com