Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

Summit of Ben A'an, overlooking Loch Katrine, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs, Scotland
Summit of Ben A'an, overlooking Loch Katrine, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs, Scotland – © Visit Scotland

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is located in south west of Scotland, designated a national park in 2002, it became the first national park in Scotland. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is the fourth largest national park in the UK attracting many visitors each year. The park is located in the Argyll and Bute, Perth and Kinross, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire regions and is known for its famous mountains, moorlands, lochs rivers, natural scenery and rich cultural heritage. The national park is managed by the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Authority and includes a number of charming small towns and villages within its borders, providing a place of scenic beauty, tranquillity and calm in south west Scotland.

The park has a number of areas including the Argyll Forest Park, Breadalbane, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs areas. The park includes a range of landscapes and a range of experiences to enjoy, offering visitors with plenty of things to see, do and experience. The area has a wealth of history and heritage and includes 60 scheduled ancient monuments, 7 conservation areas and includes Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) noted for both their biological and geological importance and National Nature Reserves including Loch Lomond and Ben Lui.

The area is popular with visitors showing Scotland at its finest, popular activities horse riding, camping, climbing, golf, wildlife watching, canoeing, sailing, wind surfing, swimming, water skiing and walking and cycling with a number of routes to explore. Visitors can enjoy the natural scenery and inspiring range of landscapes, rich and varied wildlife and biodiversity, lochs and mountains and enjoy a range of activities whilst enjoying the tranquilly and peace of the area.


Quick Facts


Loch Lomond and The Trossachs:

Year of Designation: 2002

Population: 15,600

Scheduled Ancient Monuments: 60

Conservation Areas: 7

Size in square kilometres: 1,865

Main Settlements: Aberfoyle, Balloch, Callander, Killin and Tarbet.
Located in: Argyll and Bute, Perth and Kinross, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire in South West Scotland.
Highest Point: Ben More at 1,174 metres.

Attractions


The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is located in the south west of Scotland, it became the first national park in Scotland back in 2002, subsequently in 2003 Cairngorms became Scotland’s second national park. The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is located approx 120 miles (Balloch to Aviemore) to the south west of Cairngorms National Park. Time permitting visitors to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs could combine a visit here to the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is a place where visitors can come and see some of the finest natural scenery and landscapes in Scotland including the famous mountains, away from the traffic and congestion of large towns and cities, making it an ideal place to get away from the stresses and strains of daily life and reconnect with nature.

Historically the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs have been inhabited for a number of centuries that has left an indelible mark on the local landscape. Over the years a number of archaeological finds give an insight into the history of the area including standing stones, Iron Age hut circles, chambered stone dwellings and a number of impressive castles and mansions.

Over the years the area has been linked to Viking boats, a young Mary, Queen of Scots, Christian Missionaries and a number of Earls who founded the clan system. The park has proved to be an inspiration for a number of artists and writers over the years including Walter Scott and William Wordsworth.

The location in south west Scotland means Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is a popular place for visitors looking for activity breaks, adventure sports and for those after a rural getaway with peace, quiet and tranquillity. The park attracts many visitors especially in the summer months with visitors coming from across the UK and beyond on short breaks and holidays. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is conveniently located 1 to 2 hours drive from Scotland’s two largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, around 2 to 3 hours drive from Newcastle and Carlisle, 4.5 to 6 hours drive from Liverpool and Manchester and 8-9 hours from London.

The area is famous for its inspiring natural scenery, noted for being home to some of the finest landscapes in the UK, mountains, lochs, rivers and a number of charming local towns and villages known for their warmth and hospitality. The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park does not include major cities or large towns within its borders in common with most national parks in the UK. The town of Balloch is a popular destination for visitors, providing a number of facilities, amenities, accommodation and activities. The other main settlements include Aberfoyle, Callander, Killin and Tarbet with a number of smaller villages and hamlets.

There are a number of cities and towns that are located outside the official border of the park, these include Perth, Dumbarton, Stirling, Falkirk and Paisley. Scotland’s largest city Glasgow and capital city Edinburgh are located 1 to 2 hours drive from the park, offering a choice of accommodation, local amenities and local transport links to travel to and from the national park.

The Special qualities relating to the areas varied landscapes, natural beauty including the mountains, lochs, rivers, archaeology and biodiversity of habitats and species ensure Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is a special place. The qualities include the park being a haven for calm, tranquillity and peace, a rural setting with wide open spaces and clean air and water. The park is a place where visitors can enjoy the scenic beauty, relax and unwind. The park has a great variety of wildlife of both national and international importance. The rich history of the area, traditions and way of life and strong local communities built up over the generations in the local towns, villages and hamlets mark the area out as special.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Facts & Figures, the park is located within one hour of 50% of Scotland’s population, making it ideally located for a short break. There are two Forest Parks, Queen Elizabeth in the Trossachs and Argyll in Cowal, the park is home to 50 rivers and large burns, with 22 larger loch and a number of smaller lochs and lochans. The park includes 21 Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) and 19 Corbetts (mountains between 2,500 feet and 3,000 feet), with Ben More the highest at 1,174 metres.

Local accommodation includes a choice of hotels ranging from reasonably priced budget hotels, mid range hotels and luxurious hotels, cosy B & B’s and inns, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, cottages and camping facilities. There is accommodation available in Aberfoyle, Balmaha, Callander, Crainlarich and Balloch within the park boundaries and also in Stirling, Paisley, Glasgow and Edinburgh that are all conveniently located for further exploring the region.

Visitor Information Centres are located at various locations in the park. The National Park Visitor Centre in the village of Balmaha offers a great day out for the family. Visitors can see the island of Inchcailloch, a short ferry trip away, take a stroll in the Millennium Forest Path and learn more about local history and wildlife with local rangers. Visitor centres are located at Aberfoyle, Balloch, Callander, Tuss, Tarbet and more, each has knowledgeable staff with local knowledge on local attractions, things to see and do, local tips and advice. The centres include books, maps, gifts, stationary, leaflets, brochures and more. A visit to the visitor information centres provide a good first port of call for visitors and can help to better plan, organise and enjoy your trip.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Towns & Villages include the town of Balloch, located at the southern edge of the park on the shores of Loch Lomond, the town is a popular destination for visitors throughout the year. The town is conveniently located for exploring Loch Lomond itself with cruises available and the rest of the national park. There are a range of shops, inns, pubs, eateries and local amenities. Local attractions include Balloch Country Park and the 19th century Balloch Castle and Sea Life Centre. The town is well connected with trains and bus links to and from Glasgow.

Aberfoyle is an attractive village located 20 miles north east of Balloch. The town is a gateway to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, located on the River Forth. The location in the east of the national park makes the town an ideal base from which to explore the area. Once famous for iron works and the wool industry, today the village is known for the forestry industry and tourism. There are a number of outdoor activities available including the Go Ape Adventure Course, known for having one of the longest zip wires in the UK, here there is plenty of adventure and outdoor fun for the whole family. There is a choice of accommodation available including B & Bs and self catering, along with pubs, restaurants, supermarkets, and other amenities including a tourist information centre. Surrounded by some inspiring scenery, Aberfoyle is a great place to enjoy walking and cycling and is the starting point for a number of cycle routes and marked walks.

Callander is a town located 30 miles north east of Balloch in the east of the national park. The town provides a convenient base from which visitors can explore the park and has been described as a ‘Gateway to the Highlands’. The main high includes a number of traditional stores and contemporary ones, including a tourist information centre. The town includes a number of eateries, pubs and local amenities along with a choice of accommodation options. Local accommodation includes hotels, B & Bs and holiday cottages. There are a number of local walking and cycling routes that originated or pass through the town. Local festivals include the Callander Jazz and Blues Festival, held in September with live jazz and blues music and a range of performers and musicians.

Crainlarich is a village located 35 miles north of Balloch in the north of the national park. The location makes it an important crossroads town for journeys between the highlands and lowlands. The village offers a range of accommodation including B & Bs, lodges, youth hostel and guest houses, making it a popular place for visitors to the park. The village has some wonderful scenery including the mountains located to the south and is popular with hill walkers. With a choice of local amenities and accommodation Crainlarich offers visitors a convenient place from which to explore the attractions in the national park.

Inchcailloch is an island (52 hectares in size) that is part of the Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve (NNR). Located in the south east of Loch Lomond the island includes some of Scotland’s finest wildlife and national heritage. The island is rich in biodiversity and each season offers something new and interesting for visitors to see. In spring visitors can see bluebells, in summer plants and flowers are plentiful and the island becomes a n important habitat for birds. Visitors can follow a number of paths on the island to learn more about the island and its rich wildlife.

Loch Lomond Birds of Prey Centre is located in Balloch, here visitors can see a range of birds of prey, with over twenty species and thirty birds on show. The range of birds includes the Buzzards, Kestrels, Hawks, Falcons and Eagles, representing birds of all sizes. The centre is a fully licensed zoo, where visitors can enjoy a guided tour learning more about each of the species in the centre. For those after a more hands on experience, including meeting the birds experience are available where visitors learn more about the birds and can meet and handle various species.

Go Ape Aberfoyle is located in Aberfoyle in Stirlingshire, the adventure centre offers a great place to enjoy an all action adventure in the forest whilst enjoying the wonderful scenery of the surrounding Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. Among the main attractions include one of the UK’s longest zip wires, at over 400m long, flying 150 feet above the ground and over a 90 foot waterfall offering a must see attraction for adrenaline and thrill seekers. The courses include zip wires, ladders, bridges, walkways, rope swings and wooded tunnels offering an all action day out for the family.

Wildlife at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is both rich and varied benefiting from the landscape and environment. The park is rich in biodiversity being home to habitats and species of national and international importance. Habitats include rivers and lochs, farmland, marine and coastal environments, mountains and moorland, forests and woodland. Species at the park include Otters, Capercaillie, Powan, Osprey, Deer, Red Spiral, Black Grouse and many more.

Walks & Activities are available in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, with a number of walks ranging from gentle countryside walks to moderate, energetic and much more challenging mountain and long distance routes. The long distance walking routes include the West Highland Way, the Rob Roy Way, the Cowal Way and the Three Lochs Way. Visitors can set off on a self guided walk, join an organised walk or set off with a qualified walking guide.

There are guided walks available from qualified walking guides, visitors can benefit from local knowledge and expertise. The walks are a great way to learn more about the park and see the wildlife, archaeology and ecology up close. There are a number of local path networks around the park providing a great way to see Aberfoyle, Inchcailloch, Balloch Castle Country Park, Balmaha Millennium Forest Park and more.

There are a number of walking routes including the West Highland Way, that beings from close to Glasgow and runs the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, the West Highland Way crosses through the national park, via moorland, glens, woodland mountain to reach Ben Nevis. The route is 96 miles in length from Milngavie to Fort William via the national park.

Cycling is a popular activity in the park with a choice of routes available. The routes cater for cyclists of all abilities and include flat tarmac routes, wider forest tracks for families, to much more challenging trails and terrain for mountain bikers. Cycling in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs offers an environmentally friendly way to tour the area, get closer to nature, get fit and appreciate the park from a different perspective. There are a number of touring routes where visitors can see historic sites, castles and stop off at a local pub or inn.

Other activities in the park include water sports including canoeing, sailing, wind surfing, water skiing, swimming and angling. Other popular activities include horse riding, climbing, wildlife watching, camping and golf. The activities provide visitors with an enjoyable way to further explore the national park, its wildlife and see the landscape and attractions up close. The various activities and walks cater for people of all abilities, with a range of things to see and experience, offering something for most tastes.

Visitors to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs will find there are a choice of attractions, things to see, do and experience in the park. The park is a well established and a popular destination among day trippers and visitors on weekend, short breaks and longer breaks. The park enjoys good road and public transport links including to local centres such as Balloch and with good transport links to Scotland’s largest city Glasgow, making it assessable from much of Scotland. The variety of landscapes including mountains, forests, lochs, rivers along with the historic towns and villages makes Loch Lomond and the Trossachs a fine place to relax and enjoy a scenic break.

How to Get There


The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

From Glasgow, Balloch located at the foot of Loch Lomond is located 20 miles away via the A82, A811 and Balloch Road, with an approx journey time of 40-45 minutes. From Edinburgh, Balloch is located 70 miles away via the A71, A720, M8, M898, A898, A82, A811 and Balloch Road with a journey time of 1 hours 35 minutes to 2 hours depending on traffic and time of day. Balloch is located 425 miles from central London, via the M1, M6, A74(M), M74, M8, M898, A898, A82, A811 and Balloch Road. The journey time is approx 7 hours to 8 hours depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

The train station at Balloch has regular services from Glasgow Queen Street station with a journey time of approx 50 minutes. There are regular services to London Euston station to Glasgow Central and from Glasgow Central there are connections to Glasgow Queen Street. From Glasgow Queen Street there are services to Balloch, the approx journey time from London is 5 hours 45 minutes to 6 hours 15 minutes, depending on service, connections and time of day.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular coaches available from London Victoria coach station to Glasgow. The approx journey time is 8 -9 hours, depending on service, traffic and time of day. From Glasgow, there are train services from Glasgow Queen Street to Balloch. Coach services are provided by National Express

Contact Details


Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Authority
Carrochan
Carrochan Road
Balloch
G83 8EG
Scotland

Telephone: +44 (0)1389 722600

Website: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

Map




For Local Search and Directions see: Loch Lomond and The Trossachs Map

Tips & Other Considerations


The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the national park, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.





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