Britain's largest inland waterway, measuring 22 miles long and at certain points up to five miles wide, is Scotland's most famous (uninhabited!) loch, thanks to the Jacobite ballad about its "bonnie banks".
These same banks are now one of the busiest parts of the Highlands, due to their proximity to Glasgow(only 20 miles south along the congested A82). During the summer the loch becomes a playground for day-trippers who tear up and down the loch in speedboats and on jet skis, obliterating any notion visitors may have of a little peace and quiet. In spring 2002 this area became Scotland's first National Park.
Phone code: +44 (0)1389
Local Sights & Activities for Loch Lomond
Take the High Road
The west bank of the loch, from Balloch north to Tarbet, is one long, almost uninterrupted development of marinas, holiday homes, caravan parks and exclusive golf clubs. The most picturesque village on the west bank, Luss, was the setting for the Scottish TV soap Take the High Road'.
The Loch Lomond Authority Visitor Centre, Tel. 01301-702785, next to the large car park in the village, has information on the loch's natural history, flora and fauna. Easter-Oct daily 1000-1800.
Balloch to Tarbet
At the southern end of the loch is the resort town of Balloch, packed full of hotels, B&Bs, caravan parks and any number of operators offering boat trips around the loch's overcrowded waters. Try Sweeney's Cruises, Tel. 752376, or Mullen's Cruises, Tel. 751481, which both offer a wide range of trips. A daily 2-hour cruise from Balloch to Luss leaves at 1430. Loch Lomond Shores, Tel. 01389-722199, daily year round, is a huge visitor centre and offers tremendous scope for shopping, near to the shopping centre is the TIC and National Park Gateway Centre. All the information about the national park is available here and you can also book a loch cruise, hire bikes, kayaks or sailing dingies or enjoy the views from the cafe in the Drumkinnon Tower.
At the 100-acre site you can see a film celebrating the area in addition to shops, restaurants and the restored steamer 'Maid of the Loch'. There is also an Interactive Exhibition and Tourist Information Centre which is well worth visiting. Tel. 753533, is also likely to remain open; April-June, September and October daily 1000-1700; July and August 0930-1830.
North of Tarbet, at the narrow northern end of the loch, things quieten down a great deal and the road to Ardlui, at its northern tip, is very beautiful and peaceful. The A82 continues north of Ardlui, past Inverarnan, to meet the A85 at Crianlarich. There's a Tourist Information Centre in Tarbet, Tel. 01301-702260; April-October; and a Visitor Centre at Inveruglus, Tel. 01301-704392.
East bank & Ben Lomond
The tranquil east bank of Loch Lomond is a great place for walking. The West Highland Way follows the east bank all the way from Drymen, through Balmaha, Rowardennan and Inversnaid. Beyond Rowardennan this is the only access to the loch's east bank, except for the road to Inversnaid from the Trossachs. From Rowardennan you can climb Ben Lomond (3,192 ft), the most southerly of the Munros. It's not too difficult and the views from the top (in good weather) are astounding. There are two routes: the easier one starts from the car park at the end of the road just beyond the Rowardennan Hotel; the other route, known as the 'Ptarmigan Route', starts from beyond the youth hostel. You can also go up by one route and return by the other. Allow about five to six hours there and back. An easier climb is Conic Hill, on the Highland fault line and very close to Glasgow. The route starts from the Balmaha car park. It takes about 1€ hours to reach the top, from where the views of the loch are stunning.