The Trossachs of Scotland is an area of exceptional beauty. Established in 2002 as the first National Park in Scotland, Loch Lomond falls on a geographical fault line. It’s a natural gateway separating the lowlands and the rugged mountainous landscape of the Scottish Highlands. Loch Lomond is central to the National Park, it is a must-visit destination popular for walkers, wildlife enthusiasts, adventure seekers and tourists.
With millions of visitors each year and being easily accessible, it is no question to why this is one of Scotlands’ most visited destinations.
Being one of Scotlands’ National Parks attracts a large number of visitors to the area for recreational purposes. Loch Lomond can be enjoyed as a day trip, weekend, or multi-day trip to explore the nature, attractions and wildlife. Located only a short drive or train journey from the city of Glasgow (approx 30miles) it is an obvious choice for tourists to visit whilst in Scotland.
Getting around the loch is easiest by car when visiting Loch Lomond. The main road route goes along the western shores of Loch Lomond from the city landscape up to the highlands of Glencoe. Choosing when to visit Loch Lomond is worth noting. It can be really busy during peak summer months and good weather weekends where many travel from surrounding cities to enjoy the park and what it has to offer in terms of hiking, cycling and leisure activities.
Loch Lomond was formed between 10,000 – 20,000 years go during the period of the last ice age. The rock type differs from the north to the south of the Loch. This gives an explanation to the difference in shape during the glacial movement; narrow at the north and widespread to the south. By surface area, Loch Lomond is the largest in the Loch in the UK covering 71km2 and a length of 36km (23 miles).
Geography aside, Loch Lomond is featured in popular culture through the song which has since been covered by a number of artists. The most famous version by the Scottish rock band Runrig and commonly played at Scottish dances known as Ceilidhs.
“Oh, ye’ll tak the high road, and I’ll tak the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye;
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.”
There is an abundance of walks suitable for all ages and abilities surrounding Loch Lomond. Visit Loch Lomond and follow forestry trails through the pines and oaks on the lowland trails. Keeping close to the eastern loch shorelines, walk on the Bonnie Bonnie Banks in the footsteps of the hundred-plus people who complete the West Highland Way each year. For those looking for higher and more challenging walks, there are a number of substantial peaks; Conic Hill and Ben Lomond being most popular. Ben Lomond is Scotlands’ most southerly Munro. At a height of 974m and one of most accessible for those looking to tick off and bag one of the 252 Munros of Scotland.
There are some historical sites of interest in the Loch Lomond National Park. Take a walk and discover the secrets of Rob Roys Cave. Situated up from Inversnaid on the eastern shoreline, it requires a short walk, and some careful footing to get down to the cave. Rob Roy MacGregor, famous in Scottish folklore is said to have hidden here during his raid on the Duke of Montrose. You could also go see Rob Roy’s Grave in Balquhidder and it’s worth going for a wander to the nearby glen to see where Rob Roy executed most of his raids. If you find yourself at the northern edge of the park, pop past Killin to visit the standing stones.
Learn more about Rob Roy here.
There are ample options for food surrounding the loch with a number of quality restaurants and homey tea rooms offering the best in local produce. However, nothing beats picking a quiet spot along the shoreline and setting up your very own five-star picnic location, listening to the lapping of the loch and taking in the views of the rolling hills and rugged mountains. Scotland is world-famous for its whisky and Loch Lomond is home to both the Glengoyne Distillery and Loch Lomond Distillery. Both are noteworthy of a visit and gives the opportunity to try a wee dram – or many a dram!
Check out our West Highland Way Food Guide for some Loch Lomond suggestions…
Loch Lomond has 22 islands and 27 islets. Some of the islands are said to be crannogs; artificial dwellings dating back to the prehistoric periods. Most, if not all are accessible by boat as part of a day trip; canoe, kayak or stand up paddle-board. Look out for Inchlonaig, the island of Yew trees. Yews were planted under the instruction of Robert the Bruce, in order to grow wood for bows. Spot wallabies free-roaming on Inchconnachan island, which were brought to the island in the 1920s. Inchgalbraith is one of the former crannogs, although little physical evidence remains of the crannog – visitors can see the ruins of a medieval castle.
Find out everything there is to know about the park and it’s islands here.
The story of the Beaver is one of a kind. Having been extinct in the wild for near 400 years, the re-introduction of the mammal has been both positive and negative for the environment. The natural instincts of building dams can have a detrimental effect on lowlands resulting in flooding. However, the beavers’ way of life allows for ecosystems for other animals and plants to flourish. The beaver is a shy creature, it is therefore rare to see them in their natural habitat. If you are looking to seek them out on a visit to Loch Lomond, the northeastern shorelines is the best area to start searching.
There are three species of deer to be found in the Trossachs National Park; Red, Roe and Fallow. Red Deer are found year-round in the low forest land, open moorland and across the mountainous areas. The Roe deer is the smallest of the three species, found mostly in the lowland and farmland areas allowing the deer to eat on shrubs, herbs and grassland. The Fallow deer is easily spotted on the shorelines, they are known for their swimming antics to the nearby islands. Deer can be seen year-round in the park. The rutting season is from late September through to November where you can hear the male grunting sounds across the hillside and woodland areas.
The Osprey is one of Scotlands’ iconic birds of prey. It was close to extinction but through the conservation work numbers are on the increase. A number of pairs return to Loch Lomond during the breeding season; mid-March to September. A rare but unique sight to see, early morning and late evening for the Osprey to swoop down and make a catch for its young from the Loch. The Golden Eagle is a protected species, it is one that the locations of the nests are kept a secret however, they can be spotted year-round in the mountainous areas of Loch Lomond and the Cairngorms.
There are a number of official campsites situated near to and around Loch Lomond. Campers are encouraged to make use of these official sites. Wild camping is permitted in the park, but campers are expected to behave considerately to the environment, landowners, and other recreational users. Certain areas of the park are restricted over the summer months, so look this up ahead of your trip!
The road infrastructure allows for you to drive up the western shoreline, the road on the eastern side does not allow for this. There is walking routes surrounding the loch which make up part of the West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way.
There are a number of protected fish species in the loch, therefore, anything caught should be returned swiftly to the waters. Fishing permits are required and can be obtained from a number of local businesses in the area.
There is no regulation preventing you from swimming in Loch Lomond. Open water swimming is becoming a very popular sport to enjoy, taking a dip to cool off after a hot summers day is also very refreshing. It is worth taking note of your surroundings, weather conditions and knowing your ability before taking a dip in the loch.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is open year-round. Loch Lomond is fabulous in summer, with a wealth of activities and beautiful nature to enjoy. If you prefer a quieter visit to the area, spring and autumn or both good times to visit too. In spring you can enjoy the blooming wildflowers, and in autumn you can enjoy all the autumn colours along the shoreline.