Loch Lomond: A Local Paradise
Residents of Glasgow, Scotland might be some of the luckiest people in the world. Being from here myself might make me a little biased, but I have my reasons. Scotland’s biggest city is a centre of culture and music. Often described as one of the friendliest cities in Europe, I’ve had countless happy memories here over the years. However, the ace in the sleeve of Glasgow is what lies barely 10km from Loch Lomond. The largest lake in the UK is immortalised in the eponymous song that closes out every wedding from Gretna Green to John O’Groats. What makes Glaswegians so lucky is having this paradise right on the doorstep of a bustling and busy city.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park was first established by the Scottish Government in 2002 and covers an area of some 720 square miles. Being in the central belt, it is popular with “Munro baggers” looking to conquer the 282 Scottish mountains that are over 3,000 feet. In the park itself, there are 21 Munros, a few of which I have managed to tackle myself!
Some of these are popular hills like Ben Lomond, Ben Vorlich, and Ben More. The views from the tops of these mountains are truly spectacular, giving expansive vistas to the gateway of the Scottish Highlands. When you reach the summit of the hills, it can be hard to believe that Glasgow is only a short distance along the road! What I love about visiting here is its accessibility. In the height of summer, you can finish your office job in the city and go hiking, feeling like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
The West Highland Way
Purists might tell you that the best way to experience this national park is through the famous West Highland Way. This walking trail links Milngavie, a suburb to the North of Glasgow with Fort William. The walk is 96 miles in total, but the first half takes walkers right along the Eastern banks for the loch along the way to Crianlarich. People come from all over the world to walk the West Highland Way, and it truly gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beautiful Scottish landscape.
Fun on the Loch
Another great advantage of Loch Lomond as a place to visit is the variety of activities that can be found on the Loch itself. A range of boat tours are available for those visitors who want to find out about the rich history of the area, from its dramatic formation in prehistoric times, right through all the events in Scottish history that have centred on the loch. Being Scottish myself, I find it fascinating how you can trace family history through the clans to places and events all around this area.
For those looking to get a little closer to the admittedly chilly waters, there are opportunities to take on a variety of water sports like wakeboarding, paddle boarding, and wind surfing. Loch Lomond has some 23 smaller islands that lie in the lake itself, and some of these can be explored by kayaking. Various companies offer tours and rentals from locations all around the loch.
Places to Visit
Loch Lomond is 24 miles long, and while a lot of it is fairly secluded, there are a number of small towns and Villages to visit in the surrounding area. At the loch’s southerly shore lies the town of Balloch. This is the biggest town to the Loch, and is the main connection to nearby Glasgow. There is multiple transport connections to the town from Glasgow including a railway station, bus routes, and even a cycle path for those feeling a little more adventurous!
Further up the Eastern edge of the loch, you’ll find incredible self-catering lodges on for those looking to extend their stay and reconnect with nature and the local landscape. Further North, places like Luss, Tarbet, and Balmaha on the Western bank lend themselves well to walkers looking for a place to relax after a day hiking in the nearby mountains.
I have many happy childhood memories of getting ice cream in Balmaha after being dragged up a hill by my parents! I might not have liked it much at the time, but I’m grateful of the experience. I’m glad to have a special place like Loch Lomond and the Trossachs so close to my home.
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