Yes yes, I know it's not in Glasgow. But its absolute perfection sits right on our doorstep, the magnetic pull of its landscapes & adventures only a few minutes away from our mechanical, banausic lives, and without doubt is one of the top attractions to visit for a day out of the City, so much so that not to mention it in a website about Glasgow would just be a complete travesty!
Boy we're so lucky to have it here.
So let's get the facts out of the way. The Loch here is about 24 miles long, is up to 5 miles wide, can go up to 600 feet deep at certain points, and represents the greatest surface area of fresh water in the UK.
Its magical currents meander around 38 little islands, including Inchmurrin where the ancient Dumbarton Salmon Club began meeting in 1796 and where Scotland's only (and in light of our natural climate, the world's bravest) nudist colony resides, and a number of beautiful prehistoric crannogs you'll be taking photos of until your camera finally gives up & dies.
The Loch is slashed wide open by the magnificent Highland Boundary Fault, and the wound it created keeps forever separate the western Lowlands and the southern Highlands, so the stunning terrains and backdrops you'll witness vary wildly but paint a truly unforgettable landscape.
It's nestled artfully in Loch Lomond Park, or to be more precise, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (Scotland's first national park). In the Park you'll be able to gasp at the imposing Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond, one of the most popular Munros in Scotland, get yourself lost in the mystifying Argyll Forest, heave your way up through Duke's Pass to Loch Katrine and the Trossachs, and enter the Land of Giantsat Breadalbane where some of our most amazing mountains, Ben Challum, Ben More, Ben Lui and Ben Vorlich, guard the path from Tyndrum to Killin and down into Glen Ogle.
I've lost count of the number of times I've visited Loch Lomond Park. I've camped there, walked past and through it, drove around it, sat there and watched the sun go down, sailed it. To have a place like this so close to home, to know you can come here in the blink of an eye whenever you feel like some fresh air or some relaxing time away from it all, really is a gift that keeps on giving.
As with all national parks, you have outdoor activities in abundance. Walkers can get torn into the hugely popular West Highland Way that I talk more about in my Getting Around Glasgow section, but can also wander up routes like the Balmaha Millennium Forest Path or any one of the many hills & glens folded into the area.
Cyclists can race or breeze along routes like the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path between Balloch & Tarbet, or the National Cycle Route 7 through Killin and Glen Ogle towards Callander.
You can fish with a permit in settings unlike anything else in the UK, and golf at the world-famous (and I'm pretty sure one of the most expensive places on earth!) Loch Lomond Golf Club or the Carrick.
And you can relax on one of the cruise boats that roam the Loch, before spending some time shopping, eating & playing at 'Loch Lomond Shores', which is billed as the Gateway to Loch Lomond Park, Scotland's most spectacular visitor destination.
To be perfectly honest, to see Loch Lomond Park in a day you'd have to have your remote control set constantly on fast-forward! So my suggestion would simply be that if you like your first day here, plan plenty more trips back so that you can breathe in some more of what Loch Lomond Park has to offer.
In time I'll be completing a bigger section on the area with a great deal more images for you to feast over, but for now I've just got time to tell you below about one of the most magical drives in the world you'll find here. Before I do that however, I'll leave you with the Loch Lomond lyrics that have become a brilliant feature of almost every great New Year, wedding & birthday celebration you'll head to in Scotland.
If you've never done this before, it's an experience you'll carry with you forever - just picture yourself in a hot, sweaty room at the end of a night of drinks & laughter, in a circle of friends which, to be fair, could be complete strangers you've just met that night, hands crossed over & joined with those beside you, singing over and over again at the top of your voice like it's the happiest you've ever been -
..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...
I'll tell you this, once you've spent some quality time at Loch Lomond Park, you'll understand immediately why we're so passionate about the place, we won't think twice about singing our hearts out about it at the drop of a hat!
Recently I took this tour with Tracey and some of her family (her mum, Caroline, Fiona, Amanda and of course the two dogs, Tyra & Morgan), in what was one of the hottest, sunniest days Scotland had seen for many a year. The photos from that day are in the gallery below, so just click on them for a better view, as you can't really capture the beauty of the area in the compressed images here.
That day we took two cars, set out from Glasgow at around 11.30am, and got back at 6.30pm. That said, we took our time, and stopped off about every 10 metres just to take more photos as we couldn't help it!
Coming from Glasgow we headed up the A82 road, and stopped off first to let the dogs paddle in the beach at Arden, which is near the southern corner of Loch Lomond Park, where you'll see one of Scotland's most well known and architecturally stunning 5 star hotels, Cameron House (don't worry, it only costs the price of a small island to stay there!), and wander along to the impressive Duck Bay Marina restaurant and hotel, but where you'll also be able to sit on the wall at the edge of Loch Lomond where years before I'd nervously asked Tracey to marry me (1,2,3 - aww!!).
She said 'yes', by the way!
After the dogs had been dried off, and yes, that meant my getting drenched as they shook themselves from top to bottom right in front of me, we drove up to the little village of Luss, once known as the prettiest village in Scotland. The Luss Highland Gathering (more commonly known as the Highland Games and which first began in 1875) was being held there when we arrived, and the whole place was packed with visitors from here and afar, every one of them up for a sunny day full of muscular, kilted men tossing cabers and throwing hammers (events that for some reason tend to draw in more female audiences!), and well-trained displays of Highland Dancing, everything tartaned, bag-pipey, coated in whisky & shortbread, and guaranteed to provide a picture postcard opportunity for all the tourists hunting for the traditionalBraveheart Scotland.
After we'd spent some time in the wee shops, had a relaxing picnic next to Luss Beach and slurped a few rapidly-melting ice-creams, we headed off up the A82 road, turned left in Inverbeg at the sign for Glen Douglas, and drove up what I initially thought was someone's driveway given how narrow it was (!), but what opened up like an unfurling rose to become a drive of equal, if not greater, beauty than my one of my other favourite drives in the world, the Kancamagus Highway in New England. When you reach the peak of the hill away from Loch Lomond Park, you make your way down towards the astonishing Loch Long, catching gradually more teasing glimpses of the Loch as you wind through the forest, and you'll find as we did that every few minutes like a moth to a flame you'll helplessly stop the car in its tracks, get the camera out and click passionately away until your mouth stops gaping at the sights before you.
It really is that breathtaking!
And once you've meandered down the hill, quite bewilderingly hidden amongst the trees you'll also begin to catch sights of some Ministry of Defence nuclear silos, as much of the area surrounding Glen Douglas and Glen Fruin is fenced off by the MoD, and on the Glen Fruin road overlooking the magnificent Gare Loch, you'll actually see down below the Faslane Naval Base (Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde), which houses the UK's Trident-armed nuclear submarine force, our strategic nuclear deterrent, and the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Coulport.
Our drive that day took us along the Glen Fruin road which I think is more impressive, but you could also head down towards Shandon right next to the Base and see (perhaps unsurprisingly) the permanent protesting Faslane Peace Camp that's been there since 1982, persistently in the face of the Base, the local residents and of course, Helensburgh District Court!
And finally, at the end of the Glen Fruin road which opened up for us anotherspectacular panorama of Loch Lomond Park below, we turned back down onto the A82 and ended a fantastic day with a few refreshing drinks at the Cruin restaurant at the edge of Loch Lomond Park, dangling our feet into the cool water on the simple wee jetty that extends out into the Loch, and giving the dogs yet another opportunity to soak everyone in and around the water!
As I say, an absolutely memorable drive which introduces you not only to Loch Lomond Park, but also Loch Long, the Gare Loch and some of the most haunting & remarkable scenery on the planet. You don't even need a car to do it, just cycle or walk even just parts of the route, find little paths off the beaten track, just go and explore and it'll leave a lasting impression you'll want to repeat over & over again, no matter the weather.
And as I mentioned before, I'll try and flesh out this page into a wee section on the various parts of Loch Lomond Park and its surroundings, but if you've any queries in the meantime please let me know.
Getting to Loch Lomond Park from Glasgow is pretty easy. In the car you just head out West on the M8 motorway, leave the M8 at the junction for the Erskine Bridge, follow signs for Helensburgh and Loch Lomond, and stop off at whatever part of the area you like. The A82 is the road you want to remember, because it connects you back into Glasgow. Alternatively, if you'll be in the West End or even the City Centre before you go, you might want to head for the Great Western Road which heads through the City, past Clydebank and onto the A82, but this might not be the greatest of ideas particularly given that the road is pretty terrible for traffic especially during rush hour.
Buses run regularly from Buchanan Bus Station, and there's even a cycle path all the way there from the City, so it'd be a good idea to check out the National Cycle Network if you plan to go on two wheels rather than four.
My suggestion is that you get a good map to take with you, you won't really need any guidebooks to tell you how amazing the sights are, and just plan your time there around how long you'll have. Again, if you need any help with that, please use the contact form on the site.
And I'm not just being humble about that. Loch Lomond Park is just so immense, so full of wonders both easy and difficult to find when you explore it, that a few photos here or anywhere else online won't put across what you'll experience if you spend some time here.
I fully intend however, to expand this page into a section on Loch Lomond Park and the Trossachs, with as many images as I can cram in to try and get close to giving you an idea of what it's like. So keep checking back or if you can't wait, just head there yourself and pack as many memory cards you can!
To get the best of these Loch Lomond Park photos, click on them and make sure the page that pops up is expanded to its maximum size. Depending on what system you're using, you might also be able to click on the expanded photos again to make them even larger and therefore clearer.
To view the gallery below, click on any image on this page. The light box containing the pictures will open shortly, then 'click right' or 'left arrow' [ > or < ] or 'play' button to view the gallery.