30 minutes drive from Glasgow lies Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. An oasis and iconic freshwater loch (lake), surrounded by beautiful and rugged landscapes of the Scottish highlands and lowlands. Loch Lomond for me is place of serenity and calm, I always feel rejuvenated after a visit and very much look forward to the returning.
As staycations are the most amenable form of travel at the moment, I thought I’d pull together a little overview of the area, things to do and places to see. Given the close proximity to Glasgow, you can easily do a whistle stop tour in one day to get a flavour of what Loch Lomond has to offer if you’re passing through or short on time. On the other hand, there is so much to see and do if you have more time to stay and explore for longer and I’ll include some detail on the different type of accommodation options available.
Luss is a small village set within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. It has a few shops and eateries, a church and plenty of quaint cottages which lead down to the pier where you can pick up some of the local cruises and boat trips as well as partake in various types of water sports. There is a small pebble beach which runs along the front and is a nice place to sit and watch the world go by. There are plenty of walking trails including the Faerie Trail which is ideal for little ones. There’s also an outdoor play area by the car park (which is chargeable) if you’re passing through and your kids need to expel some energy. Public toilets are also available and chargeable although the barriers were open when I visited.
Here you’ll find a range of options from the Sea Life Centre which is a great rainy day activity, some shops, cafes and restaurants, adventure golf as well as Treezone and the Bird of Prey centre. There is something for everyone which makes it an ideal spot for families whether you’re from the area, visiting or passing through.
From 10am – 4pm on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month, the farmers market is located at Lomond Shores with a variety of local produce from fruit, veg, meat and cakes to jewellery, art and crafts.
You can also partake in water sports from this location such as water ski, wakeboard, paddle board and kayaking.
Balloch Castle & Country Park
I only discovered this late last Summer and enjoyed a visit taking in the sunset from a beautiful viewpoint in front of the castle. The castle is derelict with no public access which is a shame as it would be amazing to see inside and take in the views from the upper floors.
Nevertheless, the grounds are expansive with walled gardens, walking paths and off the beaten track nature trails leading to some small, secluded and discreet beach areas, perfect for picnics or a dip in the loch if you’re brave. At the bottom there is a jetty and direct access to the loch. There’s play areas for kids and benches to sit and eat or enjoy the views.
The car park is a reasonable size and parking is free which is great and means you can have an inexpensive day out with all the family.
Inveruglas Pyramid & Loch Sloy Hydro Electricity
An Ceann Mòr is a viewpoint unveiled in 2015 enabling a window or photo frame view of the stunning Loch Lomond scenery through the tunnel. You can also climb the 31 stairs to the top for an elevated view. I’ll be honest, this is one of those places which I found to be a slight anti-climax. There’s no doubt the view is incredible but I’m not sure it needed a manmade wooden pyramid to reflect that. Maybe my expectations were too high but I left with a sort of ‘is that it’ feeling. You might wonder why I’ve included in this post but I think it’s worth seeing if you’re passing by or in the area as the view is nothing short of spectacular, regardless of whether you climb the pyramid or view through the tunnel.
On the other side of the road lies Loch Sloy Hydro Electric Facility and is the largest conventional hydroelectric power plant in the UK which is pretty impressive when you take into consideration the rural location. The plant is generally in standby mode, ready to support and generate electricity to meet any surges in demand.
The car parking here is limited and something to keep in mind if you’re visiting at peak times. There is also a visitor centre which has toilets and a shop for refreshments.
The Carrick Spa
This is definitely the place I’ve spent most of my time in the area and a real treat that can be enjoyed all year round. This is the spa for Cameron House Hotel which is situated a short 2 mile drive away. The hotel is due to reopen on 1st August 2021 following a major and devastating fire with repairs and refurbishment taking a number of years. I haven’t ever visited or stayed in the hotel but prior to COVID, I visited the spa regularly.
It’s my favourite spa I’ve visited in Scotland so far with lots of different hydro pools, thermal treatment rooms and experiences. The rooftop infinity pool is a real highlight and once you’re in, you don’t want to come back out. The spa is set across various levels which really helps space things out and as a result, it never feels overly busy. The thermal experience is expansive with a Tepidarium, Caldarium, Sauna, Infrared Sauna, Hammam room and Aromatherapy room. There’s also an ice fountain and experience showers.
The thermal experience allows 2 hours of access to the facilities or is included if you book a spa day package alongside a massage or other treatments and is priced at £49 for non-hotel residents or £39 for hotel residents so something to keep in mind as staying at the hotel doesn’t provide free access to the spa as is the case in other establishments. Being able to use the facilities for a relatively affordable price makes it a great option for special occasions or to gift a loved one as it’s an experience in itself even without any treatments.
I’d also highly recommend a visit to the Spa Cafe. It’s recently been refurbished and is very much instagrammable in terms of the decor and menu with light and healthy options available.
I can’t wait to return to the spa when it’s safe to do so. It’s an ideal activity and doesn’t matter what the weather is doing, you can switch off and relax in the comfort and warmth.
Duck Bay Marina
Stop by for a spot of lunch or perhaps enjoy a sunset dinner, Duck Bay restaurant has beautiful views of the loch. With indoor and outdoor seating options you have the best of both worlds depending on the weather conditions. They also offer afternoon tea which would be lovely given the scenic setting. The pier allows uninterrupted views and it’s the perfect spot to catch a sunrise or sunset. You can also stay in the hotel or cottages and enjoy room service which is always a luxury.
The Boat House
Also part of the Cameron House group, the Boat House is set within the marina offering great views of the boats moored and a nice, relaxing atmosphere. On sunny days, a seat on the terrace is a great choice and perhaps as close as we’ll get to that holiday vibe this Summer Season. The menu is varied with classic options such as pizza, steak, burgers and seafood as well as a decent selection of desserts. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area and looking for a nice place to eat.
This is the main type of accommodation associated with a stay in Loch Lomond and there are various options depending on your budget and preferences. I’ve not had the pleasure of staying in any as yet but it’s something I’m considering for the coming months and I’ll share what info I have based on my own research and knowledge shared by friends and family.
This is an exquisite luxury lodge tucked away right next to Duck Bay Marina and within Cameron House grounds albeit with it’s own secure entrance. It’s a large self contained property with a stunning glass fronted extension making the most of the views of the loch and capitalising on the privacy from the discreet location. It sleeps a maximum of 8 and has a huge hot tub in the garden enabling you to fully relax and enjoy without having to leave the premises. There is an outdoor kids play area and direct access to the water.
The accommodation decoration is incredibly modern which makes it stand out against other lodge style premises. It’s certainly a luxury way to lodge and a real treat if you are deciding to holiday closer to home this year.
There are plenty of facilities in the immediate vicinity including Duck Bay restaurant, The Boat House restaurant, Lomond Shores and The Carrick Spa. It’s ideally located just off the A82 enabling you to explore the area without having to head off the main roads. It looks to be fully booked up until November therefore you’ll need to plan ahead and get a reservation in if you wish to visit perhaps for a winter or early Spring break.
Although The Cruin is operating solely as a wedding venue at present due to COVID restrictions, the lodges are still available. They have various options including stylish and modern to more traditional and quaint. They are also easily located off the A82 and within walking distance of beautiful views of the loch. Another great place to base yourself if stopping by in the area.
Another versatile option with standalone lodges as well as mansion house apartments or cottages to suit your particular needs. If you’re used to luxury holidays overseas or perhaps enjoy a villa break, these will be ideal for you. Nestled in beautiful grounds with amenities in the immediate vicinity, it’s a great place for families, couples or a girls/boys trip. Take off from the marina on a champagne cruise, hire a jet ski to get a better view from the water or partake in a spot of fishing. The options are endless and it’s a beautiful place to visit all year round.
The main and better known hotels in the area are Cameron House and Duck Bay which I’ve already mentioned. The Inn on Loch Lomond is another option in Luss alongside the Loch Lomond Arms. I haven’t stayed in any hotels in the area therefore can’t comment on the quality of the accommodation, facilities or service and as with anything, personal opinion can vary therefore someone else’s negative experience doesn’t necessarily mean the same for you.