A guide to Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

Days out, Activity, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Courtney on 13th July 2021

The incredible Loch Lomond

Where is Loch Lomond and what are the Trossachs? Don’t worry, it’s ok to ask. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is in southern Scotland, not far from Glasgow. The park is so extensive that approximately 50% of the total population of Scotland are only about an hour’s drive away from its borders. The Trossachs is an exclusive word referring to the undulating hills, wooded glens and glistening lochs surrounding Ben Lomond, east of Stirling.   

Scotland’s first national park houses its namesake Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest inland body of water, and even boasts Scotland’s only lake – the Lake of Menteith (more on her later). With thrilling scenery at almost every turn and local food and drink without equal, you could be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by the options on offer. Luckily, we’ve created this handy guide to give you a helping hand.

Home to no fewer than 22 breathtaking lochs, you’ll not be short of things to do in Loch Lomond. Whether you choose to take your friends and family on a Loch Lomond cruise to one of the many islands scattered across the numerous lochs, or find a walk, challenging or gentle, to amble along with your beau, there will be many picturesque vistas and memorable stories to share once you get back home.

Already convinced? Take a look at our impressive collection of cottages in the national park:

Browse Loch Lomond cottages


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The best walks in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs

Glen Ogle Viaduct

Glen Ogle Trail

If you want a bit of history on your rambles as you’re taking in the sights, then the Glen Ogle Trail is the walk for you. Many of the walks in the area will see you ascend great heights, but there is true beauty also in low-level walks. Here, you’ll head through quaint woodland and past pretty waterfalls before arriving at the historic Glen Ogle Viaduct, a 40-metre-long structure that gets gobbled up by the hillside at either end. From there, traverse the disused railway tracks before dropping into the valley below and walking along an old military road. Sections of this walk can become quite steep, and during bad weather, the path can certainly become boggy, so ensure you have appropriate footwear.

Distance: 6.5 miles

Difficulty: easy (but some steep sections)

Good to know: the former station at Lochearnhead is now a Scouts Activity Centre and can be found easily with the signposts during the trail


Beautiful woodland and wildlife on the nature trail

Inversnaid RSPB Nature Trail

A walk on the oak-lined eastern shores of Loch Lomond is a great one for families. Although there are some steep sections, there are no substantial hill climbs to overcome, and being a relatively short walk, all comers will be able to take it on whilst enjoying the expansive loch views it provides. Obviously, this is a go-to choice for nature lovers too. Journeying north along the West Highland Way, you’ll find yourself in the Inversnaid RSPB Nature Reserve. As you pass by the birch, hazel, holly and oak trees, keep your ears and eyes peeled for pied flycatchers, black grouse, twites and wood warblers. In the summer, if you’re lucky you might spot peregrines, ospreys and golden eagles, and if visiting towards winter, listen out for the stags making their presence heard during rutting season.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: easy 

Good to know: look out for the old ruins of Cladachbeag on your stroll, a neglected settlement now enveloped by nature


The impressive view from Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond

Scotland’s southernmost Munro (a peak of at least 3,000 feet), Ben Lomond, is one of the country's most climbed Munros. Second only to the dizzying heights of Ben Nevis, you won’t be surprised to hear that you’ll probably be bumping into a few fellow hikers along this trail. Due to this, you may not find the tranquillity you get with other walks in the park (unless you set off very early), but that’s not to say that this walk should be dismissed by any stretch. From the summit, the panoramic views of Loch Lomond and its islands, as well as other lochs beyond it to the west and over to the east, are hard to top. Visit on a clear day and you may even be able to see the Inner Hebrides far out to the west.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Difficulty: moderate

Good to know: for those wanting to test themselves a little more, descend via the rocky Ptarmigan Ridge on the west side of the Munro

More walks in Scotland


The best things to do in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs

 The postcard-like view of Glenfinnan Viaduct

Scottish Highlands and Hogwarts Express Tour

Even if you’re not a ‘Potterhead’, this is a magical day out. But if you are a super fan, well…this is just a must on your itinerary of Loch Lomond attractions. All aboard the Hogwarts Express (the Jacobite Steam Train) and travel in style past some iconic filming locations including the unforgettable Glenfinnan Viaduct, which doubles up as the bridge to Hogwarts. You’ll even stop off at the pretty coffee shop where it’s said that J.K. Rowling wrote her first Potter novel. If you can peel yourself away from the windows, turn to the knowledgeable guides, who will captivate you with tales from the miraculous world of Harry Potter, as well as anecdotes relating to the fascinating history of Scotland. Make sure you pack a large lunch, as the tour doesn’t provide food – not even chocolate frogs or Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans!

Cost: £95 per adult

Best for: seeing beautiful Scotland from the comfort of a famous steam train (and pretending you’re a wizard-in-waiting)

Stay nearby: The Cabin | sleeps 5 + 1 dog


So much open water to pursue water sports

Water activities

With an abundance of lochs, 39 miles of coastline surrounding three sea lochs and mile upon mile of river channels, it would seem silly not to take advantage of the water across the national park. Aside from walking, getting out on the water is one of the most popular Loch Lomond activities and it’s easy to see why. Don your wetsuit and go loch swimming or windsurfing. Grab your paddles and oar and take the little ones paddleboarding or kayaking. Those who prefer to keep their toes dry but still want to experience life out on the water might like to experience a Loch Lomond cruise, where you can cover more ground and discover Rob Roy Country from the comfort of a boat.

Cost: paddleboarding from £20 pp; kayaking from £20 per kayak; cruises from £12 per adult

Best for: staying active and feeling refreshed in the sparkling loch waters of the national park

Stay nearby: Loch Earn Lodge Ardcraig | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs


Have a tipple at a famous distillery

Visit a distillery

So, you’ve been on the Hogwarts Express and plunged into the water in a kayak, maybe you’ve even visited some castles near Loch Lomond. What to do now in Loch Lomond? It’s time to reward yourself with Scotland’s most precious export: Scotch whisky. There are some fantastic distilleries in and around the national park, many of which offer fascinating tours showing you how plain ol’ water is turned into “Uisge Beatha” (water of life), and letting you taste the results too. Whether it's single malt or blended grain you’re into, you’ll find that Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is studded with numerous world-famous stills that you can visit at your leisure.

Cost: various but we’ve chosen Auchentoshan Distillery who offer a Masterclass for £30 pp

Best for: testing your knowledge of Scotland’s biggest export and perhaps making a bottle of your own concoction too

Stay nearby: Lomond View | sleeps 2

More days out in Scotland


The best lochs in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs

 Serene Loch Katrine

Loch Katrine

With over 20 larger lochs and countless smaller lochs and lochans to pore over, it is undoubtedly quite problematic choosing just three to showcase. But step up we will and the first on offer is the inspirational Loch Katrine, where Sir Walter Scott was roused to write his famous poem, The Lady of the Lake. Serving as the main freshwater supply to Glasgow for over 150 years, this loch is a great destination for anyone looking to cycle or walk a stunning shoreline, or even get out onto the water itself. Something we highly recommend if visiting Loch Katrine by car is the Three Lochs Forest Drive, a one-way, 7-mile foray on a quiet forest road past lochs Achray, Drunkie and Reoidhte.

Facilities: WCs and the Steamship Cafe located at Trossachs Pier

Dog-friendly: yes

Other information: hire a bike at Trossachs Pier and get yourself to the northern end of the loch to travel through Glengyle, the birthplace of Scottish outlaw Rob Roy


 The only lake in Scotland

Lake of Menteith

Don't you mean Loch of Menteith? Strangely, no, not since the 19th century. Scotland’s only lake is situated in an area that used to be known as The Laich (pronounced laych), which duly got distorted in English into ‘lake’. With the history lesson over, we can tell you that the lake and its surrounding area are awash with wildlife and the woodland is flush with wildflowers. Hop on a boat from the Port of Menteith and make your way over to any number of small islands in the lake, but most notably, Inchmahome where the ancient priory acted as a refuge to Mary, Queen of Scots in the 16th century (sorry, more history!). If visiting during the winter months, and it’s cold enough for the lake to freeze over, you’ll be treated to the ‘Bonspiel’, or Grand Match – one of the few outdoor curling tournaments still running in Scotland.

Facilities: waterfront restaurant nearby

Dog-friendly: yes

Other information: the lake is a must for wild swimmers and there’s a car park on the eastern shore that provides easy access


 Remote Loch Arklet

Loch Arklet

Centrally located in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, in between Loch Lomond to the west and Loch Katrine to the east, is the surprisingly hard to find Loch Arklet. You will pass other lochs on your way to Arklet but the destination makes the journey worth it when you join up with the Great Trossachs Path to stretch your legs with the Arrochar Alps as your backdrop. If you don’t want the walk to end, you can even reach Loch Lomond on this path and witness the beautiful Inversnaid Falls. Along the way, keep an eye out for ospreys, golden eagles and even feral goats.

Facilities: The Pier Cafe is under 2 miles away

Dog-friendly: yes

Other information: walk along Arklet’s shore and you’ll find Corrie Arklet Farm, where rogue Rob Roy was married

More breathtaking lochs


The best pubs in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs

 

The Oak Tree InnPhotos courtesy of @fraser_johnston (left) and @oaktreeinn and @videokilledtheradiostar_ (right)

 

The Oak Tree Inn

Welcome to the two-time winner of Scotland’s Best Independent Pub award, the Oak Tree Inn. Sitting on the banks of Loch Lomond and offering exceptional views over the water, take your pick of seating and park yourself either in the bar or the conservatory. On a warm day, you can even sit outside under the shade of a mighty oak and bask in its glory. As you’d imagine, there are plenty of malt whiskies available but also some of Scotland’s best craft gins as well as Loch Lomond ales. They have lots of seating and an extensive menu with ingredients being meticulously sourced to offer you the finest in Scottish cuisine. Once you’re done with dinner, be sure to order up some homemade Loch Lomond ice cream – yum!

Menu pick: 15-hour slow-braised beef cheeks - in a rich red wine gravy with creamy mashed potato and buttered market vegetables

Are dogs allowed?: yes, but outside only at the moment

Good to know: next door is St Mocha Coffee Shop which serves Loch Lomond Coffee, a bean that is roasted on the premises of the Oak Tree Inn, in Loch Lomond’s only roasting facility


 

The Loch Lomond ArmsPhotos courtesy of @stephs_bride_diary (top right and bottom) and @chef_hetherington (top left)

 

Loch Lomond Arms

Another award-winning country pub, the Loch Lomond Arms is found in the charming village of Luss with its remarkable landscapes and quaint beach. This former 17th-century coaching inn on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond boasts a large beer garden so you can enjoy your hand-pulled craft ale from the Loch Lomond Brewery in the sun. Heading inside, you can eat in the bar, the dining room or even the library. The menus may be unchanged in these areas, but the atmosphere and ambience shift as you move from room to room, always remaining calm and relaxed. Once you’ve chosen your setting, treat yourself to some Loch Fyne oysters whilst you peruse a menu full of Scottish favourites such as haggis, faggots or Scottish beef sirloin. If you’re in a rush, head 5 minutes down the road and grab yourself a takeaway at the Arms-owned Luss Fish & Chip Co.

Menu pick: pan-seared duck breast with potato, white bean casserole, frisse and walnuts

Are dogs allowed?: yes, in the bar area

Good to know: grab a chair by the fireplace and slowly work your way through some of the 51 malt whiskies on offer



The Village InnPhoto courtesy of @jansdestress

 

Village Inn

The Village Inn is a traditional pub, full of Scottish legacy, centred in the national park. With views that would rival any pub in Loch Lomond, you’ll definitely want to grab a table in the beer garden and sigh contentedly as you sip your ale with the Arrochar Alps in the background. If you want to stay sitting but also sample the fare, try their order and pay app from your table. In terms of food, they offer a separate children’s menu, whilst the options for grown-ups are huge and include vegan and takeaway options. If you’re going on a Sunday, you’ll be happy to hear that the pub offers free top-ups of roasties, Yorkies and gravy, making this one of the great places to eat in Loch Lomond.

Menu pick: seafood pie with salmon, smoked haddock, king prawns and lobster in a creamy leek sauce, topped with a puff pastry lid and served with buttery mashed potato and peas

Are dogs allowed?: yes, in the bar area

Good to know: children are welcome until 10pm

Scotland Food and Drink Guide


Find all places mentioned in our guide on this helpful map


Stay with us in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs

No doubt by now you’re itching to go loch hunting and we can’t blame you. With so much to explore in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, from wildlife spotting to paddleboarding and hiking to whisky sipping, you’ll need somewhere to lay down your head for the night. Luckily, we’ve got that under control too, with pet-friendly cabins in Callander, luxury stays in Arrochar and romantic getaways in Garelochhead to name but a few. Browse all our Loch Lomond cottages below.

Browse Loch Lomond cottages


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.