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Issue 67 - Loch Lomond & the Trossachs

Scotland Magazine Issue 67
February 2013

 

This article is 4 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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Loch Lomond & the Trossachs

Although its reputation will forever resonate with that haunting and melancholy traditional Scots song of unknown authorship, Loch Lomond has the added notable distinctions of lying on the Highland Boundary Fault above Glasgow, and being the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles.

Although its reputation will forever resonate with that haunting and melancholy traditional Scots song of unknown authorship, Loch Lomond has the added notable distinctions of lying on the Highland Boundary Fault above Glasgow, and being the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles.

It was therefore inevitable that being in such close proximity to Glasgow, Loch Lomond and its surrounding wilderness areas of glens, hills and mountains should become one of Scotland finest open air playgrounds, seasonally providing a wealth of out-of-doors leisure diversions which range from hill-walking, cycling, sailing, horse riding and river and loch fishing to mountain climbing.

Moreover, the historic rivalries between its territorial clans of Graham, Colquhoun, Macfarlane, Buchanan and MacGregor will never be forgotten. In 1603, the MacGregors attacked the Colquhouns at the Battle of Glenfinlas. The subsequent bloodbath led to sixty Colquhoun widows petitioning James IV at Stirling and handing over to him 60 bloodstained shirts. In response, the King sanctioned the ensuing Battle of Glenfruin, which claimed the lives of a further two hundred Colquhouns and earned itself the sobriquet of the “Glen of Sorrows”.

WHERE TO STAY

The Oak Tree Inn
Balmaha

Really lovely wood and stone pub, complete with great beer, 50+ malt whiskies, and outstanding food.
Offers a varied choice of accommodation including bunk rooms, private rooms or some nearby cottages.
Tel: +44 (0)1360 870 357
www.oak-tree-inn.co.uk

Auchendennan Rose Cottage
Alexandria
Self catering cottage, sleeps four, furnished to a very high standard.
Even has a hot tub!
Tel: +44 (0)1389 71000

Duck Bay Hotel
Arden
Three star hotel on the banks of the loch. Great views across the loch from the marina restaurant.
Tel: +44 (0)1389 751 234
www.duckbay.co.uk

King Robert Hotel
Stirling
Mid sized hotel on the site of the battle of Bannockburn, a great location for exploring the area.
Tel: +44 (0)1786 811 666
www.kingroberthotel.co.uk

The Lodge on Loch Lomond
Luss
Luxury hotel in a quiet sandy cove.
Award winning restaurant and leisure facilities.
Tel: +44 (0)1436 860 201
www.loch-lomond.co.uk

The Coach House Inn
Cardross
Friendly pub offering eight rooms varied in size. Priced from £40 per night including breakfast.
Tel: +44 (0)1389 841 358
www.coachhouseinn-cardross.com

Craigton Cottages
Luss
Three newly built self-catering cottages by the picturesque village of Luss.
tel: +44 (0)1389 850 289
www.craigtonlochlomond.co.uk

Poppies Hotel & Restaurant
Callander
Small but highly recommended hotel; great service, food and numerous thoughtful extras.
Tel: +44 (0)1877 330 329
www.poppieshotel.com

The Oak Tree Inn
Balmaha

Really lovely wood and stone pub, complete with great beer, 50+ malt whiskies, and outstanding food.
Offers a varied choice of accommodation including bunk rooms, private rooms or some nearby cottages.
Tel: +44 (0)1360 870 357
www.oak-tree-inn.co.uk

Braeside Guest House
Drymen

Charming bed and breakfast in the heart of the National Park. Four star accommodation from £45 per night.
Tel: +44 (0)1360 660 989
www.braeside-drymen.co.uk

Sinclair House
Helensburgh
Luxury accommodation of the first floor of this town centre Victorian villa. Husband and wife team Iain and Ishbel go above and beyond to make sure you have everything you could want and need.
Tel: +44 (0)1436 676 301
www.sinclairhouse.com

Wyvis
Tillycoultry
Delightful four star bed and breakfast with just two guest bedrooms. A warm welcome and a great breakfast.
Tel: +44 (0)1259 751 513
www.wyvisbandbscotland.com

Lubnaig House
Callander

Characterful Victorian country house offering eight ensuite guest bedrooms and a coach house annex.
Closed during winter.
Tel: +44 (0)1877 330 376
www.lubnaighouse.co.uk

Appalled, King James seized and hanged the Chief of Clan Gregor with eleven of his principal clansmen, thereafter decreeing in an early example of ethnic cleansing that the name of MacGregor be outlawed for all time. Striking at the very heart of clan pride, this meant that anyone who admitted to carrying the name of MacGregor could be instantly put to the sword.

The law was reversed in 1663 by Charles II, reimposed in 1689 by William of Orange, and finally repealed in 1777.

At its southern end, Loch Lomond accommodates its own share of small inhabited islands, once integral to a great deer park established in the fourteenth century by Robert I - notably Inchmurrin, Inchcailloch, Inchfar and Inchlonaig.

Along its western shore, of a more recent provenance, stand a string of idyllically situated baronial mansion houses now transformed to meet the needs of the twenty first century.

At Balloch, for example, is Balloch Castle, early seat of the earls of Lennox but rebuilt in the early nineteenth century for a member of the Buchanan family and now serving as a Countryside Ranger and Visitor Centre.

Nearby is Cameron House, today a five star, 128 bedroom resort with four restaurants, an 18 hole Championship golf course, and a luxury resort spa with rooftop infinity pool. To the north is Arden House, built in 1868 for Sir James Lumsden, Lord Provost of Glasgow, and now divided into a residential apartments. Finally, at Luss, there is Rossdhu House, once the family seat of the Colquhoun Clan and now serving as the club house centre of the prestigious Loch Lomond Golf Club. The lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson, who stayed at Rossdhu in 1773 announced that he was “much pleased with the Loch Lomond scene.” Located west of Drymen is Buchanan Castle, the abandoned former seat of Clan Graham and its chiefs, the dukes of Montrose, and this is flanked by the Buchanan Castle Golf Club. Such spectacular locations provide an insight into the

WHERE TO VISIT

Cruise Loch Lomond
Tarbet

Boat trips are a fantastic way to experience the dramatic beauty and historical hotspots of the loch and its shores.
Tel: +44 (0)1301 702 356
www.cruiselochlomond.co.uk

Moirlanich Longhouse
Nr. Killin
A perfectly preserved cruck frame cottage, where you can discover what life was like for Scots in mid- 19th century.
Tel: +44 (0)131 243 9300
www.nts.org.uk

Loch Lomond Shores
Balloch

First port of call for exploration of the loch: contains shops, restaurants, an aquarium and all manner of information for the visitor.
Tel: +44 (0)1389 751 035
www.lochlomondshores.com


Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre
Balloch

A hidden gem, tucked away in the corner of a garden centre. Get up close and personal to some exciting and fantastic birds.
Tel: +44 (0)17751 862 416
www.llbopc.co.uk


Hill House
Helensburgh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s finest domestic creation. An arresting mix of art and design from Scotland’s more recent history.
Tel: +44 (0)844 493 2208
www.nts.org.uk


Kilmahog Woollen Mill
Callander

Discover a 250 year old mill from Scotland's textile and industrial heritage, complete with the original working waterwheel.
Tel: +44 (0)1877 330 268
www.kilmahogwoollenmill.co.uk


Rob Roy & Trossachs Visitor Centre
Callander

Visitors can experience what life was like in Rob Roy's day; see how he and his comrades would have lived, and even try on the type of clothes they would have worn.
Tel: +44 (0)1877 330 342

Bracklinn Falls
Callander

Lovely circular walk taking in woodland, waterfalls and spectacular new wooden footbridge.
www.walkhighlands.co.uk

Hamilton Toy Collection
Callander

A celebration of toys from the last hundred years. This collection of bears, cars, dolls, books, games and childhood memorabilia will astound you.
Tel: +44 (0)1877 330 004
www.thehamiltontoycollection.co.uk


SS Sir Walter Scott
Loch Katrine

The opportunity to sail on the historic steamship Sir Walter Scott, nobly cruising these waters for more than a century.
Tel: +44 (0)1877 332 000
www.lochkatrine.com


Victorian era and reflect the exclusive rural idyll afforded by the wealth generated from Glasgow and the River Clyde at its zenith. Today, that rural idyll is accessible to everyone.

At the southern end of Loch Lomond is Loch Lomond Shores, a substantial and superb visitor centre which includes an aquarium, luxury shops and restaurants.

In the height of summer, this is the perfect hub for exploring the surrounding countryside.

Established by the Scottish Government in 2002, the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park encompasses 720 square miles of unrivalled scenery and is divided into four section: Breadalbane, Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, and Argyll Forest Park.

The terrain incorporates 21 Munroe (mountains more than 3,000 ft) which include Ben Lomond, Ben Lui, Beinn Challuim and Ben Mor, and there are two peaks named Ben Vorlich.

In addition, there are twenty Corbetts ( mountains of 2,500 to 2,000 in height), the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, which stretches from the east shore of Loch Lomond to Strathyre, and the spectacularly scenic Argyll Park.

From the summit of Ben Lomond, on the north eastern shore of the loch, can be seen much of the route of the West Highland Way, the ninety-six mile long footpath that wends its way from Milngavie, on the outskirts of Glasgow, to Balmaha.

Another long-distance footpath, the Rob Roy Way, was opened in 2002, and runs the 92 miles from Drymen to Pitlochry in the north.

The territory known as The Trossachs takes its name from a small wooded glen in Stirlingshire, but has been extended to take in all of the scenic landscape stretching east to Stirling from the shores of Loch Lomond, an interior of woodland, glens, hills, lochans, rivers and mountains.

It was Scotland's finest novelist, Sir Walter Scott, who first ignited popular interest in the locality with his epic poem The Lady of the Lake which centres itself on Loch Katrine.

In 1817, he followed this up by publishing his novel Rob Roy, the story of the Clan Gregor cattle “lifter” who was born beside Loch Katrine and whose is buried at Balquhidder.

As you travel through the Trossachs, the romance of the past envelopes you on all sides. In 1859, a dam was built at the eastern end of Loch Katrine, with aqueducts to provide a main water supply to Glasgow. As a gesture, the water company gifted a holiday home to Queen Victoria, who had visited Invertrossachs House at Loch Venachar in 1869, but Royal Cottage, as the water company's house was named, was never used by the Sovereign In 1900, a steamer service on board the SS Sir Walter Scott was introduced to the loch, and it remains in operation to this day.

From Alexandria, in the Vale of Leven in West Dunbartonshire, the A811 travels east through the picturesque villages of Gartocharn and Drymen, leading to Buchlyvie, Kippen and Gargunnock. Travel the A81 north and it leads to leafy Aberfoyle and the Doon Hill, celebrated for its Fairy Knowe.

In the late seventeenth century, the Reverend Robert Kirk took up the ministry of Aberfoyle Kirk. A learned man, he translated the Psalms from the Holy Bible into Gaelic, yet also wrote a book called The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies, a minor best-seller of its time. It was the Reverend Kirk's practice to every day take a stroll on Doon Hill, and one day in 1692, he failed to return.

His body was never found, but a pine tree on Doon Hill is alleged to contain his spirit, trapped by the fairies for eternity. Visitors to the spot, such as myself, are invited to contribute small offerings for the invisible eyes watching from every side, although having nothing else with me at the time, what use my old camera case will be to them is anybody's guess.

The Lake of Menteith in the Carse of Stirling, although known as a loch until the nineteenth century, is designated, for reasons unknown, Scotland's only “lake”. It contains some small islands, the largest of which is Inchmahome which has a medieval priory founded in 1238, and visited over the centuries by the likes of Robert the Bruce and the infant Mary Queen of Scots, who was sent here for protection during Henry VIII of England's “Rough Wooing” invasion of 1547.

Over the winter months,

WHERE TO EAT

Wee Kelpie
Helensburgh

Fantastic fish and chip shop: fresh fish, hand cut chips, and homemade tartare sauce.
Tel: +44 (0)1456 675 000

The Lochside Restaurant
Balloch

Established restaurant under new ownership. Friendly staff and good value for money.
Tel: +44 (0)1389 757 373
www.thelochside.com

Chatters Restaurant
Dunoon

Fab restaurant serving the best from Scotland's larder – local venison, Loch Fyne seafood, Aberdeen Angus steak and homemade puddings.
Tel: +44 (0)1369 706 402
www.chattersdunoon.co.uk


Wee Blether Tea Room
Aberfoyle

Lovely café serving sandwiches, homemade cakes and scones.
Closed over winter.
Tel: +44 (0)1877 387 337
www.weeblethertearoom.co.uk


Riverbank Bar & Restaurant
Helensburgh

Eclectic menu by day, trendy wine bar by night.
Tel: +44 (0)1436 674 252
www.riverbankhelensburgh.co.uk


The Village Rest
Luss
Bistro/bar in a lovely old cottage.
Large portions of mains such as haggis or steak pie. The homemade scones are fantastic.
Tel: +44 (0)1436 860 220

Drymen Pottery
Drymen

Café restaurant and pub at the heart of this pretty village. Great choice of main meals, snacks, burger, pizzas and cakes and desserts.
Tel: +44 (0)1360 660 458
www.thedrymenpottery.co.uk


The Tayvallich Inn
Tayvallich

Renowned seafood restaurant on the shores of Loch Sween. Open every day for dinner, and Fri-Sun for lunch.
Tel: +44 (0)1546 870 282
www.tayvallichninn.co.uk


The Real Food Café
Tyndrum

Homemade soups, fish suppers, cakes and puddings of the highest quality. Friendly service to boot. A must visit.
Tel: +44 (0)1838 400 235
www.therealfoodcafe.com


The Harbour Café
Loch Venachar

Beautiful lochside restaurant offering casual lunch and dinners, as well as fine dining.
Tel: +44 (0)1877 330 011
www.venachar-lochside.com


Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond
Cameron House Hotel, Loch Lomond

Fine dining lochside, awarded its Michelin star in October 2011.
Booking advised Tel: +44 (0)1389 722 504
www.martn-wishart.co.uk

Scotland's curling community waits with anticipation to hear that the Lake of Menteith is frozen over to a depth of seven inches, thus allowing them to hold a Bon Spiel (Grand Match), an out-of-doors curling tournament. Sadly, the condition of the ice has not come up to the health and safety requirements since 1979.

At Doune are the ruins of Doune Castle built in the 14th century for Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany and Regent of Scotland.

The town was once famous for pistol manufacturing. One of its products is said to have fired the first shot of the American War of Independence. Close to the town, on the River Teith, is the Deanston Distillery. Built as a cotton mill in 1785, it was converted in 1960 and is owned by Burn Stewart Distillers.

To the north, the lively town of Callander is also on the River Teith.

In the first century BC, the Romans built a fort here and named it Bochastle. Nothing remains of this, although it may have stood on a grassy mound known as "Tom na Chisaig", which roughly means "Kessog's Hill" and more recent tradition associates with St Kessog preaching to his congregation.

It is at Callander, however, that the fertile plains of the south and south east come to an end, and the mountains of the Highlands begin.

Rich in mythology and folklore, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park lies at the heart of Scotland, dividing the Lowlands from the Highlands.

It conjures up a glorious hinterland of the breathtaking scenic beauty that is Scotland's greatest treasure and somewhere, once you discover it, you will want to return to again and again.