Described as the “Queen of Scotland’s Lakes”, Loch Lomond sits at the foot of Ben Lomond and straddles the Highland boundary fault line. Famed for its natural beauty, there are so many things to see around Loch Lomond that it has attracted visitors for centuries.
Now one of the main attractions of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, let’s discover more about what the “bonnie, bonnie banks” has to offer in this informative blog from the travel experts at Scottish Tours.
Where is Loch Lomond?
Loch Lomond is located in southern Scotland, to the northwest of Glasgow. It’s easily accessible with regular trains to Balloch, at the southern end of the loch. If you are driving, it’s an simple 45/60 trip, depending on traffic.
If you don’t have a car, reaching Loch Lomond on a guided tour is easy. There are day tours from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Most itineraries combine time at Loch Lomond with a scenic drive through the picturesque Trossachs region, known as the “Highlands in Miniature”, and a visit to mighty Stirling Castle.
Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park was Scotland’s first and features forest parks, rugged mountain scenery, woodland glens and sprawling lochs.
Established by the Scottish Government, the park was officially opened by Princess Anne in July 2002. It extends over 720 sq miles, and within its boundary are 21 peaks over 3,000 feet (known as Munros), with the tallest being Ben More (3,852 ft/1,174 m).
Is Loch Lomond in the Highlands?
The Highland Boundary Fault Line cuts right through Loch Lomond. So the southern half of the loch is in the lowlands and the northern half in the highlands.
It stretches through Conic Hill and across the islands of Inchmurrin, Torrich and Inchcailloch.
As you travel along the length of the loch, you’ll see it change from a broad stretch of water up to 5 miles wide to a narrow, fjord-like finger at its most northerly end.
Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond
The famous song is thought to have originated during the 1745 Jacobite Uprising. It refers to the Jacobite soldiers who were taken to Carlisle after their defeat at the Battle of Culloden.
Highlanders believed that when someone died away from home, their spirit returned by the underworld or the low road. The High Road is the world of the living.
The story in the song is about two prisoners who have been taken there to be tried. One is going to be set free the next day; the other is going to be hanged.
Loch Lomond Facts
Loch Lomond is Britain’s largest loch by surface area and, after Loch Ness, the second largest lake by volume.
The loch is 22.4 miles (36 km) long, up to 5 miles wide (8 km) and up to 623ft (190m) deep
The base of the loch was carved out by glaciers around 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age
Loch Lomond is known as a ribbon lake, as it is long and narrow
There are over 30 islands scattered across Loch Lomond. Most have Inch in their name, which comes from the Gaelic “Innis” meaning island.
Inchconnachan island is home to a colony of 50-60 red-necked wallabies
Loch Lomond Attractions
Cruise Loch Lomond
A popular activity is to take a relaxing boat trip to experience the loch’s breathtaking scenery. There are regular sailings from Balloch provided by Sweeney’s Cruises. The one-hour Experience Cruise includes close-up views of Inchmurrin, the largest island on the loch. Sweeney’s also provides a waterbus service between Luss and Balmaha.
Cruise Loch Lomond operates from Tarbet and features the many highlights of the northern section of the loch. Sailing across the deepest part of the loch, passengers can enjoy amazing views of Ben Lomond. A waterbus service links the western and eastern shores from Tarbet to Rowardennan.
If you’re looking for an extra-special experience, why not hop aboard the Celtic Warrior at the Cameron House Marina for a luxurious one-hour champagne cruise.
Maid of the Loch
Berthed at Balloch, the Maid of the Loch is the last paddle steamer built in the United Kingdom. She was launched in 1953 after being built at the A&J Inglis shipyard in Glasgow. She was then deconstructed, transported to Balloch by rail then rebuilt by the loch side.
With a capacity of 1,000 passengers, “The Maid” was the largest steamer to sail on Loch Lomond and carried over 3 million passengers during her 28-year career.
The ship was retired in 1981 and is now being restored to her former glory. She will, hopefully, take to the waters once more, offering cruises of the loch.
Loch Lomond Shores
Planned as the gateway to Loch Lomond, this impressive shopping and leisure destination includes a visitor centre as well as many outdoor activities, including bike hire, canoe rental and other water sports. Overlooking Drumkinnon Bay is an impressive tower which contains a Sea Life Aquarium and offers impressive views of the loch.
Loch Lomond Shores is the starting point of the Red Squirrel Trail. The spread of the North American grey squirrels has put Scotland’s red squirrel population under threat. Thankfully, the Highlands are a stronghold for the reds, and there are plans to create habitats, especially for them.
Loch Lomond Seaplanes
Operating out of Cameron House Hotel, Loch Lomond Seaplanes offers flightseeing trips of Scotland’s scenic west coast. Take-off and landing are from Loch Lomond, creating a unique travel experience.
Flights take in the spectacular scenery of Loch Fyne and the Kyles of Bute, then over the Kintyre peninsula to reach the islands of Islay, Jura and Gigha.
Landing flights to Jura are also offered, giving passengers two hours to explore this picturesque island.
Loch Lomond Distillery
Dating from 1814, the original site was by the banks of Loch Lomond. The distillery is now located in Alexandria. It produces malt and grain whiskies and has a unique set of three stills.
Loch Lomond produces the official “Spirit of the Open” in partnership with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. This 22-year-old single malt whisky is aged in American Oak casks and finished in Bordeaux red wine barriques. This involved process gives the whisky a fruity character.
No visit to Loch Lomond would be complete without a visit to the attractive village of Luss. It’s thought a settlement has been here for at least 1,000 years, possibly longer. The Vikings passed through the village in 1263 after they dragged their longboats overland from Arrochar to Loch Lomond.
As evidence, there is a Viking hog-backed gravestone to be found on a visit to little Luss Parish Church.
At the heart of the village are the picturesque cottages that lead down to the shores of Loch Lomond. Luss found fame in the popular TV series “Take the High Road”, where the village played the fictional community of “Glendarroch”.
West Highland Way
This 96-mile long-distance walking route starts in Milngavie, on the outskirts of Glasgow and ends in Fort William. The route follows the eastern side of Loch Lomond from Balmaha to Inverarnan.
The West Highland Way is split into 8 sections, each covering between 9 and 15 miles.
It usually takes 6 to 8 days to walk the entire route and to service the needs of the many walkers, a network of accommodation and food providers has been developed.
Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre
The family-run Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre is next to the Loch Lomond Shores complex. It’s home to a wide variety of Buzzards, Hawks, Eagles and Owls. There is even a resident vulture called Bones.
Visitors can meet the birds and enjoy the daily flying shows. Falconry activities are also available, from meeting the birds to the thrill of flying a hawk or owl.
Enjoy a bird’s eye view of Loch Lomond from the summit of Conic Hill, situated on the eastern side of the loch. A short but energetic walk from Balmaha will take you 1180 feet (361 m) to the summit for some of the finest views in the national park.
From this viewpoint, take in the panorama over Loch Lomond towards the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Munro.
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