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Issue 34 - Stirling, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

History & Heritage

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Scotland Magazine Issue 34
August 2007


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Stirling, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

Stirling, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs are within easy reach of Glasgow but offer solitude and scenery. Dominic Roskrow reports

The heart of Scotland
The area around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is a vast historical playground, the buffer between the Highlands and Lowlands, a vast expanse of variety just a few miles from Scotland’s main population centres. And between the boundaries to the north and south, and across to the east and west, they offer the visitor a taste of everything Scotland has to offer – from stunning scenery, dramatic lochs, glens and bens, to culture, and wildlife, to a big splash of dramatic history, much of it glorious, some of it gory, and some cloaked in myth and legend.

This is Macgregor country, and stories about the clan are many, most notably those of Rob Roy, the legend who was either heroic outlaw or common cattle thief depending who is telling the story.

The region known as Loch Lomond and The Trossachs stretches from Loch Lomond Shores, the centre of activity for Loch Lomond some 18 miles from Glasgow off the A82 near Stirling, and stretches from the Lowland slopes in the south to the Highland boundaries in the North, from Argyll Forest Park in the west and over to Tyndrum, Crianlarich and Killin to the east. In all it covers about 720 square miles.

The Trossachs are often known as Scotland in miniature and they have influenced a whole range of people from Sir Walter Scott, who wrote Lady of the Lake after spending time at Loch Katrine nearby, and Queen Victoria, who journeyed here many times.

Journey further and you arrive in Stirling, the very heart of Scottish nationalist pride, as well as the monument to William Wallace, and the imposing ‘other’ castle that played such a major role in the nation’s history.

Argyll Forest Park is bordered by sea lochs and is as good a starting point to explore this region as you could wish for.

It can be reached from two different directions, both of them extraordinary in their own ways. From Glasgow you can follow the M8 to Gourock or Greenock and then take the ferry. Or you can drive the more scenic route on the A82 past Loch Lomond through Tarbet to enter the park at Arrochar.

And from that point you can branch out across the region.

Crianlarich and Tyndrum are Highland villages which both serve as important gateways to two separate routes through the Highlands, one stretching up to the west and on to Oban and Glencoe, the other east towards Stirling. Crianlarich means ‘low pass’ and was the crossroads for two old military roads. Now it is where two great walkways cross each other: the West Highland Way, which stretches from Fort William across to Milngarvie; and the Coast to Coast walk, lesser known but growing in importance and linking St Andrews to Oban.

The area has strong links not just with the Macgregors but with Robert the Bruce, too, and these days both serve as staging posts for visitors planning to head further afield.

Killin describes itself as the heart of the Highlands, but it’s actually the ideal starting point for exploring the Southern Highlands and it lies at the eastern end of the Trossachs National Park. This pretty village lies below Killin Tarmachan and Ben Lawers range of mountains at the head of Loch Tay, and the waterfalls called the Falls of Dochart run through its centre.

Loch Earn is 10.5 kilometres long and at its widest point is 800 metres wide. At one end is the village of St Fillans, at the other Lochearnhead, a centre for watersports, sailing and canoeing.

What makes the loch special is that it has its own tidal system. Strictly it’s not really tidal at all – a strange wind pattern means the loch has a ‘slope’ and the water travels from one end of the loch to the other in a similar way to tidal waves. This is known as ‘seiching’ and if you’re into trivia then Loch Earn shares this phenomenon with Lake Garda, Lake Geneva and Lake Eerie.

To the south of the loch is Edinample Castle, built in the 17th century and at one time in the hands of the Macgregors before their demise, when it came under the control of the Campbells. It is said to have been cursed with bad luck, and has attracted more than its fair share of doom and gloom.

Callander is the home of the Rob Roy Tourist Information Centre and here you can find out the whole story of the outlaw and his activities.

The town is also an ideal base for walkers, offering a variety of pathways and walks to suit all levels of expertise. The town itself stands close to the River Teith beneath Ben Ledi, the highest mountain in the Trossachs. And there are walks to and up several other bens in the neighbourhood.

The Lake of Mentieth is home to some of the best brown and rainbow trout fly fishing in the whole of Scotland. It is a 700 acre lake which is freshly stocked with 1200 quality trout daily, and has a fleet of boats to help you get out to catch them. The lake itself sits in the middle of the Trosssachs and has become renowned for its outstanding beauty and the special flora and fauna in the region.

Breadalbane boasts some of Scotland’s finest munros including Ben Lui, Ben Challum and Ben Vorlich. It is also home to the villages of Kenmore, Acharn, Ardtalnaig and Amulree, each with its own personality and character in this rich and scenic area.

The Crannog Centre, a primitive style village which accurately creates the way people used to live in ancient times, isn’t far away.

Okay, we called Stirling the Ringo Starr of Scotland when compared to Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, but that was a wee bit harsh. Stirling Castle, with its vast halls, recreated kitchens and atmospheric ramparts overlooking the Wallace monument and the Stirling Bridge, where key battles have been fought and Scotland’s turbulent history has twisted and turned, is among the most impressive sites in all of Scotland, and the region itself is soaked in history and emotion.

Where to visit

Alloa Tower
Ancestral home of the Earls of Mar, Alloa Tower is one of Scotland’s largest surviving medieval Tower houses with an important collection of portraits, silver and furniture.
Tel: +44 (0)844 493 2129

Argyll’s Lodging
Castle Wynd
Scotland’s finest surviving renaissance house. Features an interpretive tour and displays about the past inhabitants.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 431 319

Bannockburn Heritage Centre
Glasgow Road
The site of Robert the Bruce’s famous victory over the English. Contains presentations and exhibitons that bring life to the battle.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 812 664

Blair Drummond Safari Park
The African bush recreated in the Scottish countryside, including big cats and elephants.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 841 456

Doune Castle
Nr Dunblane
A 14th century castle more famous recently as the setting for Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 841 742

Falkirk Wheel
Tamfourhill, Falkirk
Remarkable feat of engineering, much more than a canal lock. Visitor centre and boat trips available.
Tel: +44 (0)8700 500 208

Old Town Jail
St John Street Tours of this Victorian prison are taken with an audio handset or enthusiastic actors. Great views from the roof.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 450 050

Smith Art Gallery and Museum
Dumbarton Road
Home to ‘the Stirling Story’ where you can learn about the history of the town.

Stirling Castle
Castle Rock
Impregnable fortress central dating from 15th century. A fascinating attraction that takes all day to explore properly. Ticket price includes entry to Argyll’s Lodging.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 450 000

Wallace Monument
Abbey Craig, Causewayhead
A free standing, five story tower built as a tribute to William Wallace. Incorporates visitors’ centre and spectacular views from the top.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 472 140

Where to visit Issue

Lomond & Trossachs

Ben Lomond
The most southerly of Scotland’s munros, and one of the most popular climbs.

Denny Ship Model Experiment Tank
Castle Street, Dumbarton
A Victorian ship model testing tank which retains many original features – a water tank as long as a football pitch, clay moulding beds for casting wax model ship hulls and the original Victorian machinery.
Tel: +44 (0)1389 763 444

Geilston Garden
Cardross, Dumbarton
Walled garden, woodland, large kitchen garden and new exciting experimental plantings such as Geilston prairies – naturalising North American species.
Tel: +44 (0)1389 849 187

Glengoyne Distillery
Highly respected malt whisky distillery offering a range of tours.
Tel: +44 (0)1360 550 254

Inchmurrin Island
Loch Lomond
The largest and most southerly island in the loch with a total of 49 archaeological sites. The Maid of the Loch paddle steamer makes frequent trips.

Tel: +44 (0)1389 711 865

Inchmahome Priory
Lake of Menteith, Aberfoyle
A beautiful 13th century island monastery that played shelter once to Mary Queen of Scots, as she avoided the unwanted attentions of Henry VIII.

Loch Lomond shores
The gateway to the national park and the place to organise your excursions.
Tel: +44 (0)1389 722 406

Rob Roy’s Grave
Rob Roy’s grave can be found in the churchyard here, etched with the stirring epitaph ‘MacGregor Despite Them.’

Where to stay


Modern, brightly coloured farm courtyard with a mixture of stylish doubles and suites.
Tel: +44 (0)1324 718 333

Ballengeich Road
Modern guesthouse with six ensuite rooms, just below Castle Rock.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 474 933

Culcreuch Castle Hotel
A wonderful 14th century hotel with an atmospheric bar called The Dungeon.
Tel: +44 (0)1360 860 228

Hostel St John St
Converted church with an impressive façade. All rooms ensuite.

Tel: +44 (0)870 004 1149

Stirling Highland Hotel
Spittal Street
Upmarket hotel with a good location.
Good leisure facilities including pool and gym.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 272 727

No.10 Gladstone Place
Friendly and pleasant bed and breakfast providing accommodation close to city centre.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 472 681

Witches Craig Campsite
A pleasant spot for camping, three miles east off the A91 road to St Andrews.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 474 947

Lomond & Trossachs

Cameron House
Loch Lomond
Luxury hotel on the shores of the Loch.
Has a fantastic whisky bar; newly opened spa and award winning restaurants.
Tel: +44 (0)1389 755 565

Drovers Inn
A uniquely traditional experience, complete with roaring log fires, kilt-wearing bar staff and a stuffed grizzly bear.
Tel: +44 (0)1301 704 234
Inversnaid Bunhouse
Converted church offering comfortable, budget accommodation and coffee shop.
Tel: +44 (0)1301 702 970

Loch Lomond Hostel
An attractive country house hostel, complete with sweeping staircases and its own ghost.
Tel: +44 (0)870 004 1136

Roman Camp Country House Hotel
A romantic, turreted 17th century hunting lodge. The upmarket option in town.
Tel: +44 (0)1877 330 003

Rowardennan Hotel
Characterful hotel located at the base of Ben Lomond. Open all year.
Tel: +44 (0)1360 870 273

Where to eat


The Old Mill Inn
Killearn, Drymen
Good beer and good food in a cosy atmosphere.

Tel: +44 (0)1360 550 068

Clive Ramsay’s
Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan
Great restaurant serving everything from breakfast through to dinners at night.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 833 903

East India Company
Viewfield Place, Stirling
Good Indian food and friendly service.

Tel: +44 (01786 471 330

Baker Street, Stirling
Modern Scottish cooking in a smart but informal small restaurant.

Tel: +44 (0)1786 446 277

Behind The Wall
Melville St, Falkirk
Incorporates microbrewery, café and restaurant.

Tel: +44 (0)1324 633 338

Scott’s Delicattessen
Barnton Street, Stirling
Good deli-style food.

Tel: +44 (0)1786 451 671

Lomond & Trossachs

The Ben Lomond
A mix of restaurant, craft shop and heritage centre.
Tel: +44 (0)1301 702 393

Callander Meadows
Fresh, seasonal food sourced locally and cooked in a simple style. Also has rooms.

Tel: +44 (0)1877 330 181

Lodge on Loch Lomond
A comprehensive menu with a beautiful terrace for lunchtime al fresco dining.

Tel: +44 (0)1436 860 201

Oak Tree Inn
For traditional Scottish cooking, snacks, bar meals and afternoon teas.

Tel: +44 (0)1360 870 357

Wee But n Ben Bistro
Ideally placed for a snack or home cooked meal when you tour the Trossachs.
Tel: +44 (0)1877 330 018