Loch Lomond is the largest loch in Scotland, the largest body of fresh water in Britain and probably the most famous after Loch Ness. It is part of the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, Scotland's first national park. The southern end of the loch is quite flat, but the scenery soon becomes more mountainous and distinctly wild by the time you reach the north end. To the north-east lie the Trossachs with both Loch Katrine and Loch Array.
Towns and Villages
- Balloch — located at the southern end of Loch Lomond, it is the main town on the loch, and can get busy. The TIC / visitors centre called Loch Lomond Shores can help you plan your stay and provide you with close-area maps. Has a railway station.
- Luss — a town without any attractions other than its beautiful appearance and cottages, which are still worth a visit
- Rowardennan — this village makes a great base to explore Ben Lomond
- Drymen — good base for the Conic Hill, also a nice pub (claimed to be the oldest in Scotland) and Buchanan castle.
- Tarbet — a large village near the centre of the west shore with railway station
- Inchcailloch — the largest island in the lake
Several trains run daily between Glasgow and Oban, Fort William and Mallaig which stop at Tarbet and Ardlui on the north-west shore as well as Crainlarich in the northern part of the park. These leave from the upper level of Glasgow's Queen Street station.
The First Western bus service towards Balloch pick up passengers at the bus stop opposite McDonalds at Jamaica Street. A full day unlimited travel ticket costs about 4 pounds.
Several buses a day between Glasgow and Campbeltown, Oban or Fort William, traveling along the western shore (A82) of the Loch. These will stop at all bus stops north of Balloch, including Luss, Inverbeg, Tarbet and Ardlui.
To enjoy the nature, it is best to go by bike. There's a (relatively!) well-maintained and -signposted cycleway from Glasgow to Balloch called National Route 7. A good place to join it is Bells Bridge over the Clyde by the SECC (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center). It's a fairly flat 20–25 miles.
Buses run along the Loch, but not that frequently (see above). You should check the departure-times first, as timetable are not usually available at the stops. The National Park Authority publishes a timetable of all the buses and ferries which may be available as a booklet locally.
If you're driving, mind that the road along the northern part of Loch Lomond is pretty narrow for the traffic it has.
Sightseeing trips by boat run from Loch Lomond Shores near Balloch.
There is also a useful passenger ferry between Inverbeg (served by Citylink buses) and Rowardennan (at the foot of Ben Lomond mountain).
Travelling Around Scotland An excellent reference tool for planning your journey is the travelinescotland website and journey planner for all bus, rail, coach, air and ferry services in Scotland. Also open 24 hours by phone on 0871 200 22 33.
- Loch Lomond Shores, Balloch. See Balloch.
- Balloch Castle Country Park, Balloch. See Balloch.
- Luss Village Paths, Luss (along the A82). A beautiful town with four walks around town and a sandy beach. A map can be picked up at Balloch TIC or at the Luss Visitor Information.
- Cycling is probably the best outdoor activity besides hiking. The Lowland Highland Trail, which is part of the National Cycle Network Route 7 starts from Balloch, going north to Drymen, Aberfoyle, Callander, Strathyre, Lochearnhead and Killin. Free leaflets with a map of the bike trail can be picked up at TICs along the trail. There is another cycle path along the western shores of Loch Lomond. Bikes can be hired at the Loch Lomond Shores (see above).
- Hiking is also a good idea. The long-distance West Highland Way also runs along the eastern shore on its way from Milngavie (near Glasgow) to Fort William.
- Ben Lomond. A very popular climb. A majority of walkers arrive by road on the eastern side of the loch. By public transport your best option is to head to either Tarbet or Luss on the western side and then take the ferry over Loch Lomond to Rowardennan. You have to be early to catch the ferry to Rowardennan as there is only one morning service, so if you want to do Ben Lomond as a day walk this is a must. The ferry costs £11.50 return and takes approximately half an hour each way. There are two routes going up Ben Lomond. The main track which 95% of people take is from the end of the public road a few hundred metres to the south where the main carpark it located. The less taken track is in much better condition are far more peaceful and scenic. It starts a few hundred metres north of the hostel along a private road. You can go up and down the same way or make a circuit of it. From the hostel or carpark taking either route to the summit will take approximately 4.5 hours (3.5 if you're fast). Relax at the hostel grounds before taking the ferry back across. Ben Lomond is 974m high.
- The Clachan Inn in Drymen - Scotland's oldest registered licensed premises (1734) - nice pub with good food and friendly atmosphere.
- There is a small pub, with outside terrace and nearby pier for boat moorings, on the island of Inchmurrin in the centre of the loch. A ferry is available from Midross, on the A82, to the island.
- Cameron House in Balloch has a marina bar with views over Loch Lomond.
Unusually for Scotland, wild camping is banned on the Southeast side of Loch Lomond. This affects the area near the road from Drymen to Balmaha, and these bylaws in this area were introduced following excessive litter and noise in these areas. Wild camping is permitted in other areas.
- Rowardennan Youth Hostel, Rowardennan, By Drymen G63 0AR, ☎ +44 1360 870259. Open March–October. Located on the banks of Loch Lomond, it can be used as a base to climb Ben Lomond. Adult bed £17.
- Cameron House in Balloch.
- Dumbarton — features Dumbarton Castle on top of a rock, overlooking the Firth of Clyde. It was an important royal refuge; take the A82 south