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Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park (Loch Lomond)

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      21.04.2009 16:31
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      A beautiful area well worth the visit.

      Myself, hubby and the kids all managed to get two weeks holidays together over Easter. It was wonderful, no running around ferrying the family to work, paper round, school, clubs etc. Just two lazy weeks where I could have a long lie if I wanted, hang the washing out mid morning instead of before 8am, watch telly, do nothing Ahhhhhhh............wonderful!! Of course we didn't want to just laze around the whole time and decided to have a few days here and there. The first day trip we decided to take was over to the magnificent scenery by Loch Lomond.

      Loch Lomond is a truly beautiful loch set amongst the tranquil, rolling hills in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park where it is said that the highlands meet the lowlands. This meeting place can actually be seen from Conic Hill on the south-east shores, a meeting place formed many thousands of years ago when 2 plates in the earth's crust collided forming the magnificent mountains, which today mark the gateway to the highlands of Scotland. The national park covers a very large area with many different attractions and an abundance of breathtaking scenery but obviously there is only so much you can visit in one day and we chose Loch Lomond, probably the most well known attraction within the boundaries of the national park.

      Loch Lomond is the largest inland fresh water mass in Britain being an impressive 24 miles long and 5 miles wide with its deepest part being 600 feet! The loch is home to approximately 38 islands, some big and some small, with some of them even being inhabited and one named Inchmurrin, which is actually home to a hotel!

      The banks of the loch can be reached at various different locations with the main one being The Loch Lomond Shores situated in the small picturesque town of Balloch. Balloch is very well signposted on the A82 if coming in from the Glasgow area and likewise is also very well signposted if coming from the Stirling area along the A811.

      Once you arrive at the Loch Lomond Shores Centre there is a very large, well laid out, free car park. First port of call is usually the National Park Gateway Centre/Visitor Centre where you will find an abundance of information about the loch itself and the surrounding area within the national park. There is a small gift shop and many leaflets and books about the area. There are also several members of staff there to help you out with any questions you may have, from trips available to what accommodation the area has to offer.

      After a browse around the visitor centre you may want to have a wander around the lochside shopping centre where you will find an array of shops ranging from shops like Jenners, Thorntons, local gift shops to Hawkshead, Ponden Mill and many more. There are also 2 or 3 coffee shops and restaurants where you can enjoy some light refreshments or even enjoy a meal with a glass of wine whilst taking in the breathtaking scenery overlooking the loch. This is also where you will find the large, very well kept toilets and baby changing areas.

      If it's the outdoor scene you are looking for then there is certainly plenty to choose from. Pedal boats, canoes and kayaks can be hired for some fun bobbing about in a sectioned off part of the loch. Bikes for all ages with trailers and pull-alongs for the younger generation all equipped with helmets can also be hired and there are many well laid out off road cycle paths where all ages can take in the wondrous scenery whilst enjoying a healthy cycle. If cycling is not your thing then there are also many nature walks around the loch where you can not only enjoy the scenery, but perhaps catch a glimpse of some of the 200 different species of bird known to live in the area or some of the other wild life, otters, deer, squirrels etc. There is also an abundance of wild flowers and plants to be found around the loch. Feeding the ducks with the leftover sandwiches can also be fun.

      If it's a picnic on the menu for the day there are plenty picnic tables and areas dotted around the loch where you can sit back, relax and take in the splendour of the surroundings, obviously this is weather dependent!

      A short walk around the loch will take you the Maid of the Loch, one of the last large paddle steamers to be built in Britain and the last one to have been used for trips on the loch. Built in 1953 in Glasgow, the paddle steamer is now owned by The Loch Lomond Steamship Company, a registered charity who now look after the paddle steamer. It is hoped that one day through the hard work of volunteer workers and regular donations that the paddle steamer will once more give pleasure cruises around the loch. At the moment you can visit and have a wander round the paddle steamer or you can hire the Queen's Restaurant for up to 90 people or the Douglas Mickel Saloon for up to 40 people for private parties, weddings, conference etc. There is also The Lomond Lounge Café Bistro, which serves food daily, although I found this more of a greasy spoon rather than a bistro. I did however enjoy having a wander around the paddle steamer and found it very interesting.

      Along side the Paddle Steamer is the Balloch Steam Slipway. This is an amazing steam run slipway used for pulling large boats in and out of the water for repair. The Balloch Steam Slipway was built in 1902 and was used until 1989 when it became too run down to use. It was reopened again in 2006 after being repaired and made fully functional again using lottery funding. I really enjoyed visiting this. The small building housing the steam engines, which run the slipway has been painstakingly transformed in to a small museum, which explains in simple terms how the slipway works by the use of simple photographs and videos. It is run completely by volunteers and is maintained by donations. There is a very small gift shop selling small souvenirs and if you or the kids want to blow the very loud steam whistle, this can be done if you give a small donation. It's amazing how much this amused and occupied all the children!

      So many things to do and not enough time! If you do happen to have time left, or perhaps if the weather is not as good as you had hoped then there is also a Sealife Centre on the edge of the loch. The day we went to the loch, although it was dry it was quite cold so we went into the Sealife Centre to see how much it would be, but as this was a day we had chosen to do outdoor activities we didn't really budget much money and when we saw the prices, even if we did have the money with us, I don't think we would have paid the extortionate prices!! We were going to be charged £36 for a family of 4, which I feel is far too expensive for a tour round a Sealife Centre! Well certainly when it wasn't budgeted for.

      If you would prefer to view the loch and the surrounding scenery from the peace and tranquillity of the water itself Sweeney Cruises offer an hour-long cruise of the loch. The boats can be found in Balloch itself at the marina, where you can also find out the sailing times for the day. All cruises have guides giving a bit of a history about the loch and surrounding area.

      If after all of that the kids still have some energy left to burn and the adults would like a bit of a rest, back round the loch by the Loch Lomond Shores Centre there is a small enclosed play park suitable for both younger and older children. Alongside that there is also a small amusement area where you can purchase tokens for the fairground style rides. This is probably more suited to the younger children but there is also a bungee jump trampoline area too, which my 2 loved. There are benches for the exhausted adults and a caravan selling snacks and well deserved teas and coffees at a fraction of the prices of those being sold in the cafes and restaurants.

      Overall I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area. There is so much to see and do and on a good day I really don't think you will want to leave. The scenery is so enchanting, it will mesmerise you and you'll want to stay forever! The shops are great but I personally prefer the outdoors better, you can get shops anywhere really, but to spend some family time together in such a peaceful, relaxing area surrounded by such a stunning backdrop is definitely not worth missing. These are the days that really do leave you with treasured memories. We visited the loch in 2004 when we were on holiday in the area. We managed to spend a couple of days there and were able to do so much more. This time however, travelling from home took us about 1 ½ hours and we had actually forgotten how much there was to do with the result we ran out of time. I think the next time we visit we will be more prepared, plan our day a bit and choose the activities we want to do before we go, so that we can then get more out of 2 or 3 activities instead of trying to cram in a small bit of everything.

      ==Some Useful Information==

      The Loch Lomond Shores Centre is open from March until December but obviously the loch is open all year! For more information on the Centre visit their website:

      www.lochlomondshores.com

      For more information on Loch Lomond itself or the National Park in general then you can visit their website:

      www.lochlomond-trossachs.org

      If you would like to hire a bike, canoe, kayak or pedal boat these are all available from 10am - 6pm April - September and 10am -5pm in October. For all boats each person will be provided with a life jacket and children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Prices per boat range from £12 for ½ hour and £17 for the full hour.

      There is a great range of cycles to choose from with trailers for the very young non-cyclists and tag-alongs for 4-7 year olds who get to do the peddling without the work! Everyone is provided with a helmet. Prices vary from £9 per child and £12 per adult or £38 per family for 4 hours to £67 per adult and £52 per child or £214 per family for 5 days. For more details visit their website:

      www.canyouexperience.com

      Cruises on the loch are available at various times throughout the day costing £6.50 per adult and £4 per child with family prices available. For more information and details of their cruises, which you can also book online visit their website:

      www.sweeney.uk.com

      If you would like more information about the Maid of the Loch Paddle Steamer and the Balloch Steam Slipway you will find details at their website:

      www.maidoftheloch.com

      I hope this has been of some interest to you all and I hope I have managed to get over the true beauty of "The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond".

      ©lel1969

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        27.03.2009 13:45
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        World on its own, Amazing

        Loch Lomond is officially my favourite place in the world. Young or old, it will not fail to take your breath away. The scenery is captivating and there is plenty to do.

        Last April myself and a few friends decided to take a weekend camping trip to Loch Lomond. Being Inexperienced in the camping field we did not know what to expect and didn't really know where at the Loch we were heading.

        We arrived at about 2 pm and stopped of at a few places who were quite unwilling to take us as we were so young and automatically assumed we were there to be loud and roudy - this was not the case. After driving around for 5 hours in the snow (Yes, it was snowing, how silly we were) and many unsuccessful attempts at finding a place to sleep we headed round to the other side of the loch (Balloch) and eventually found a gorgeous wee campsite called Cashel at Rowardennan who were willing to take us on the basis we caused no trouble. This was fine by us. The staff were very friendly and the facilities were amazing, loo's and showers, a shop and we even got a pitch right by the loch. It wasn't too pricey and the views were excellent! We stayed for 3 nights and although it was rather cold we had an excellent time. What a feeling waking up in the morning to that scenery, it literally left me in awe. We didn't really leave the campsite as we were worried about our stuff but there is plenty to do around the loch e.g watersports, hiking and walking.

        I will be going back soon for another weekend and would recommend it as the place to be for anyone, chill out and relax, or do some sports if your more active. It is fantastically beautiful (even in the snow) and there are plenty of places to stay, not just camping, there is hotels, caravan parks and I think there is even a hostel!

        I can see why Loch Lomond is a National Park and has many songs and stories, it truely is spectacular.

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          04.10.2006 00:04
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          A BEAUTIFUL, SERENE PLACE TO REST, RELAX AND RECHARGE.

          *****Loch Lomond*****

          If you’re planning to visit Loch Lomond, here is a review to give you lots of information to help you plan your trip!


          *****A Lakeside Retreat to Soothe Your Soul*****

          A few years ago I partook in a walking quest that led me a whole 96 miles or so from the outskirts of Glasgow all the way through the Highlands to Fort William, in the shadow of Ben Nevis. It was a wonderful time, and if you care to, you can read of my adventures in a review here called Walking The West Highland Way. I’ll be writing up some more, based on the other places we stayed at as time goes by.

          One of the loveliest parts of this walk was the first day, when we walked a whole 20 odd miles from Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow, along beautiful hilly, country paths that took us to a tiny village on the shores of Loch Lomond called Balmaha.

          Overlooked by Ben Lomond, this tiny place is surely the most beautiful Lakeside retreat in all of Scotland. I have never seen skies so wide, water so crystal and reflective, nor hills so carpeted in heather, a myriad of textures, just waiting to be laid on canvas and captured in paint. I have to say, of all the stops we made on our 96 mile walk, it was this place that sticks in my mind more than any other, and it’s this place I hope to return to again and again and again!


          *****A Little Lomond Song*****

          Oh ye’ll tak’ the high road
          And A’ll tak the low road
          An’ ah’ll be in Scotland afo ye’
          For me and ma’ true love will never meet again
          On the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond

          Everyone has heard the song, though few know what it’s really about, and for sure every time I hear it, it brings to my mind the truly beautiful and bonny banks and shoreline of the loveliest loch I’ve ever seen! The story of the song goes that two of Bonny Prince Charlie’s Men are captured after the Uprising that ending on the bloody fields of Culloden Moor, and while one is to be set free to go back home to Loch Lomond, the other is to hang.

          The song is sung by the condemned man about how he will get back home faster, as he’ll be on low road (i.e. he’ll be dead, so his soul will move faster than the man whose life is to be spared). It’s a very sad, melancholic song, and that’s how the mountains and the loch make you feel sometime when the mist is creeping over them, and the light is fading away. Sadness, but also great affinity and admiration for such a beautiful, wild place.


          *****Loch Lomond – A Little Bit of Background*****

          Loch Lomond is a very big Loch. It is, in fact, the largest freshwater Loch in the UK, and an awful lot of people all over Scotland, whether they know it or not, get their water from this Loch! The Loch is 24 miles long, and 5 miles wide, and around about 600 feet at its deepest point. Not as deep as Loch Ness, which goes down about 740 feet (so far as we know!) but still pretty deep. The shelf of the Loch is very short in places, so if you’re swimming, be careful, as the water can get very deep, very fast, and even a metre out from the shore you can get into trouble with the sudden change in temperature if you’re an inexperienced swimmer.

          There are about 38 islands on the Loch, and some of them even have people living on them. Imagine that?!! I’d love to live on an island in the middle of Loch Lomond. The peace and tranquillity, the amazing scenery, the wildlife. Amazing. Speaking of wildlife, the Loch Lomond area is a great place to look out for Wild Goats – yes that’s real wild goats, not a live rock band!!!

          Loch Lomond is also where the famous Rob Roy MacGregor hid out, and there is a little cave where he kept his hostages which you can visit. It is on a steep bank along the lochside between Rowardennan and Inversnaid. It’s wild walking up here, so make sure you go prepared! There is also his cave, which is really just a crevice in the rocks where he maybe hid from the Redcoats, and this is about a mile past Inversnaid.

          The historical connections with the area are fascinating, and there is no much more than this to occupy your mind when you are visiting – from the geology of the area: the line of the Highland Boundary Fault is visible if you stand at the top of Conic Hill, near Balmaha at the south of the Loch all the way through to more modern pursuits like Golf and water sports. For those who want to simply relax, there are spa hotels, gentle walks through amazing scenery, over 200 species of birds to watch, and wild plants galore. Or if all you want to do is sit back with a nice glass of wine and enjoy a boat tour of the Loch, well you can do that too! Basically there is something for everyone in this wild and beautiful area!


          *****How to Get There*****

          Wherever your starting point is, it is easy to get to Loch Lomond. We arrived in Glasgow Queen Street by train, caught another train to Milngavie, and had our bags picked up by a baggage company and transported to our hotel, and then walked to Balmaha, which is on the south shore of the Loch. If you are coming in by train, get off at Glasgow and get a bus to Balmaha or have you’re hotel arrange to pick you up. Alternatively, hire a car, and drive. The scenery will blow your mind and you’ll really have try hard to concentrate on the road! Again, flying into Glasgow Airport and hiring a car is easy, and it’s not difficult at all to navigate to Balmaha, as everything is clearly signposted.


          *****Where to Stay*****

          There are some lovely places to stay in the area, and a few I would recommend are the Rowardennan Hotel, which is literally on the Loch side, and has a daily ferry service across to Inverbeg on the other side of the Loch. For more details of where to stay, and the going rate, call : +44 (0) 1360 870 470, or write to the National Park Visitor Centre, Balmaha, nr Drymen, G63 0JQ.


          *****What to do*****

          As I have already said, there is plenty to do in this wild and wonderful place. There are munros bag, in the form of amongst others, Ben Lomond, at 3000 feet of climb over 3.5 miles, it’s not to difficult in the summer months, but can be treacherous in the winter, so go carefully! Another pleasant walk for less serious climbers, is Conic Hill, which is just out of Balmaha and will give amazing views over the Loch.

          If you fancy a boat ride, there are ferries to catch, or you can hire a boat for the day – a rowing boat will only set you back £22.00 for the day (or £8.00 for an hour), and there are lots of wee inlets and coves to explore. Alternatively, you can hire a motor boat for £37.00 per day (or £13.00 per hour) – just pop into the Balmaha Boat Yard.

          For more information on boat hire: MacFarlane and Son +44(0) 1360 870 214.

          If you fancy a round of golf, The Loch Lomond Golf Club is an 18 hole course, which is fairly low lying, and close to the banks of Loch Lomond.
          For details, call +44 (0) 1436 655555
          www.lochlomond.com

          Or if you just want to sit about and read a nice book with a nice cold drink in your hand, I don’t think you’ll find a more peaceful, beautiful place to do it in!


          *****My Favourite Haunt – Balmaha*****


          The village of Balmaha is very pretty, lots of little cottages off a main road that runs right down to the Loch side. It’s very sheltered to the east, as the flanks of the mountains swoop down protectively, and is a sun trap in the summer, as light reflects off water and the spaces open up.

          When we stayed here, our Bed and Breakfast was called Bay Cottage, and I can highly recommend it to anyone. Liz, our hostess, was a wiz in the kitchen, polite, friendly and very helpful when we hit transport issues. The house is beautiful, 19th century with lots of space and facilities, including a hot tub, on-suite rooms, a bright and airy breakfast room housed in a huge conservatory, beautiful, well kept gardens, and a Loch side position. Dinner is available on request, and I would highly recommend this, as the standards of cooking were first class. There are 2 family rooms, 1 twin room and 1 double room, as well as 1 single room and a triple studio room (this is where we stayed – sleeps 3-4) which is en-suite and has a patio area too. All the rooms have satellite TV and it’s a no-smoking residence. When you arrive, there is tea and homemade scones to greet you, and breakfast is a full Scottish breakfast, porridge, homemade toast or cereal and fruit. We paid £25.00 per person per night for bed and breakfast, and it was the best £25.00 I ever spent. After a whole 9 hours of walking, the bed seemed soft as feathers, and there was even a foot spa to soothe our weary feet!

          For more information:

          Liz Bates (The Lady of The House!)

          Bay Cottage
          Balmaha
          Loch Lomond
          G63 0JQ

          Balmaha is small. As villages go, it’s pretty teeny, or as we part Sassenach/part Scots would say, “it’s afa wee”. Situated on the east shoreline of Loch Lomond, at the foot of Conic Hill, where the keen photographer can shoot a million different moods across the Loch, it is popular with walkers, munro baggers, and those in search of peace, quiet and an escape from the ever persistant Scottish Midge. Those seeking the latter invariably do not find respite, and I would suggest that if you are generally attractive to these wee flying vampires, that you take the precaution of some anti-midge cream (Avon Skin So Soft, the green one, is what I use and it works a treat!) and take a couple of garlic capsules a day. Midges, like vampires, don’t like garlic overmuch! The peace, the quiet, and the tranquillity are easily got in this serene and beautiful place, and you will find that every time you blink, there is another amazing scene to capture, another mood to learn, another light to view things through. It takes an awful lot these days to leave me breathless, but this place had me gasping from the minute I set foot in it, and I still long to go back, and breath it all in again.



          Thank you so much for reading, Kate x

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            13.08.2001 20:27
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            I grew up in Dumbarton, 7 miles from the majestic Loch Lomond. I spent many years near it or on it, and have enjoyed every moment. Driving to Loch Lomond is easy, head for Glasgow Airport, keeping going and cross the Erskine Bridge onto the A82 and follow the signs. Quick tip: if the traffic is bad, wait until you reach Dumbarton (past the Shell garage on your right) and turn right at the roundabout (signposted Bonhill if I remember correctly). Follow the road and signs for Balloch. This will take you the back road to Balloch, the town that sits at the foot of the loch. So what is there to do around Loch Lomond? Well you can visit Balloch Castle and Country Park, and walk along the edge of the Loch. Pop into the Balloch Hotel and sit in the sunshine. Or drive up to the foot of Ben Lomond if you are feeling energetic. There are boat trips round the Loch in high season as well, these offer a good way to see the surrounding scenery. Heading up the west coast of the Loch will take you, firstly, to Cameron House and Duck Bay Marina. Cameron House is a world renowned 5 star establishment, and you can generally do a bit of star spotting there. Duck Bay Marina offers good food, and a wonderful view out onto the Loch. There is also a large picnic area where the kids can run about. Further up you come across Luss, home of the TV series 'Take the High Road'. Be warned this is VERY touristy, and there is usually many buses full of Americans. But it is a nice small village and you can walk round it all easily. The new tourist centre is excellent and well worth a visit. Ask at the tourist centre about a visit to Inchinnan island, complete with it's own hotel. And if you are lucky you will see the wallaby farm on a neighbouring island. If you enjoy walking, you can tackle a section of the West Highland Way, which you can join at the top of the loch. Drymen and Balmaha sit on the East side of the Loch, and are also very popular areas.
            Loch Lomond 26 miles long, and 1 mile deep in places, and is constantly buzzing with boats, jetski's and the like. My best advice is to find somewhere quiet, and enjoy the stunning scenery. I admit having lived so close I took it for granted, but having moved away I fully appreciate it's grandeur and beauty.

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              21.01.2001 14:06
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              I’ll take the road that brings me to the shores of Loch Lomond anytime. The scenery at this most tranquil place is absolutely breathtaking. Loch Lomond is the largest loch in Scotland being 23 miles long and up to 5 miles wide and it is 630 feet deep at its deepest point. It also has 38 islands and pleasure cruises run from Luss, Tarbert and Balloch. My partner and I have been up to The Isle of Skye on two occasions and each time we have broken our journey in Luss on the shores of Loch Lomond. This is the little village of stone cottages where Take The High Road is filmed. I’m afraid that didn’t actually mean a lot to me as I don’t watch the programme, but there it is anyway. The church dates from 1875 and has an ancient stone font and a medieval effigy of St Kessog. We stayed in the Colquhoun Arms Hotel both times we visited Luss and it’s a place to be recommended. The rooms are very comfortable, en suite, with television, tea making etc and the cost in 2000 was £29 per person per night in early September. The Hotel has a restaurant and a bar where they sell pub meals. You need to be downstairs early to get a seat in the bar as it fills up very quickly, because the food is so good. It is a short walk from here through the little village down to the shores of the loch where you can sit and admire the view. The only thing I would advise is anti midge spray especially if you’re going in the autumn. I’m sure those little monsters have teeth like crocodiles – it certainly feels that way!

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              09.07.2000 03:32
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              I have been to Loch Lomond many a time, it really is a beautiful and very serene place. For a young family there is plenty to do. You can go up the loch on a paddle steamer, which you board at Balloch. I takes you up passed Cameron House and a bit further up to Luss. Luss is where the famous programme "Take the High Road" is filmed. YOu can see Blairs store etc. Other thinghs to do is the Safara Park at Blair Drummond. There is lots to do there, boats trips around monkey islan, death slide, small zoo, picnic area etc. There is a beautiful place named Balmaha on the eastof Loch Lomond not far from Drymen. You can hire boats here and go all around Loch Lomond, which if I remember correctly is 26miles long. The only bad point may be the weather as it is not guaranteed sunny up in Scotland. You can take a day trip to the trossachs, head for Aberfoyle and there is the natural loch Katrine. Glasgows water supply, you can go on the boat the Sir Walter Scott, a paddle steamer which tours up the loch, very beautiful views. The only thing is take insect repellent as there is Midgies and clegs not so pleasant. There is a lovely tea room, called the Milk Bar just outside of Drymen it sell home bakes like you have never tasted. Well worth a visit

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                06.07.2000 21:42
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                Loch Lomond has been written and sung about for hundreds of years. The song, "Loch Lomond", better known to millions as "by Yon Bonnie Banks", must have been rendered (ie torn apart) inumerable times by drunks and revelers the world over. I've heard that it's sung in the hotels and homes of ex-pat Scots in places as far afield as Perth Austrailia and Abu Dahbi in the United Arab Emirates. However, nothing can match the sence of awe and wonder that fills me every time I see the Loch for myself. I've never been abroad and over the years the Loch has become what you might call 'my own personal Mediteranean' and I love it dearly. The Scottish government has seen fit to make the area part of a National Park and I for one think that its the only really inteligent thing they've done to date! Whatever kind of holiday you have in mind, the facilities around the Loch can help you have the best time ever. There's everything in this one area for the backpacker, the ornithologist, the caravaner, the walker, the old and the young. Wether you want to come for a week-end or a month, you'll find somewhere to stay at a price which you can afford and you'll take away with you memories that will last a life-time. They say, "familiarity breeds contempt", - well, I'm very familiar with Loch Lomond and I love and appriciate it more every year! So, this one time, believe what the advertisements say about the place and check it out for yourself. I'm no gambler, but I'm willing to bet that, with an open mind and a sence of wonder as you only 'hand luggage', you'll have the time of your life.

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