48 Hours Exploring Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond. It’s literally an hours drive away from my house in Glasgow yet I’ve never really made an effort to explore it to its capacity. Probably because it’s so accessible, I know it will always be there for me. But this winter, when looking for a quick little weekend away, we found a great little place that would allows us to wander Loch Lomond for a few days.
Although most of our days away were spent with lazy mornings, afternoons in the hot tub and nights curled up on the couch, we did make an effort to get out and about. For the days we travelled, the weather was the best it could have been for November. We got clear blue skies, along with a fresh dusting of frost on the bonnie banks every morning. Oh so romantic! (and perfect for the 40 degree hot tub!).
Climbing Conic Hill & Ben A’an
We decided to climb Conic Hill on one of the mornings. We wanted to do something energetic and since we were staying in Balmaha, Conic Hill was the closest and safest option. We’re not experienced climbers and didn’t want to get into trouble hill walking in the winter. The hill isn’t a difficult one, in fact it’s one of the easiest that anyone could climb. There is a clear path up through the hill that eventually guides you to a sharp little summit with tremendous views. Parts are a bit rocky, and does require full shoes with a good grip, but certainly achievable for any walker.
Ben A’an is a little more difficult. A lot of the climb is through a large forested area, and when you get near the top, it’s quite a steep rocky summit. I’ve done it before in my wellies, but I wouldn’t advise it. It requires a little but more effort than Conic Hill but the views are so worth it.
Exploring the different beaches around Loch Lomond
One of the days we decided a little road trip up the east coast of the Loch would be good. And we weren’t disappointed. Starting from the private beach at our lodges, we travelled from Balmaha up to Rowerdennan where the road eventually meets an end. And inbetween we stopped off at Milarrochy and Sallochy Bay to get some pictures and enjoy the scenery. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, you would’ve thought it was summer. Our only gripe would be that you have to pay for parking at some of the stops so be careful not to get a ticket!
On a lighter note, doing this route also means that you get a bit of a road trip experience without going too far. You drive alongside the coast, down the narrow unmarked roads, passing all the sheep and Highland Coos.
Loch Katrine is one of my favourite lochs to visit. It sits in the shadow of plenty of hills, mountains and woodland to get that perfect Instagram picture. If you’re coming in from the main car park, you will see Ben A’an on your right hand side and Ben Venue on your left. Trust me, you can’t miss them!
Another reason I love this loch is because it’s so accessible for people of all ages. It’s 9 miles long, with the majority of the journey on level grounding. So you could easily walk, cycle, run around it. Anything you fancy. If you’re not that into walking, but still want to experience this great loch, then you can get on board the Sir Walter Scott or the Lady of the Lake to on a 1 hour boat ride. Or better yet, take your bike across on the boat to Stronachlachar and then cycle back to the Pier.
After you’ve finished your stroll, you can grab a hot bowl of homemade Cullen Skink soup from the Brenachoile Cafe. The cafe is opened seven days a week during summer months.
Food at The Oaktree Inn
Our Loch Lomond Waterfront Lodge was self-catering so most night we cooked for ourselves and ate in. But after our walk up Conic Hill we decided to treat ourselves to some hot tasty food from Oaktree Inn (it’s literally across the road). As it was nearly Christmas, the staff were putting up decorations and lights. The cafe/restaurant is already really cosy looking inside, but the Christmas decorations made it that little more festive and warming. I went with the haggis and tatties with whiskey sauce to fully immerse myself in the Scottish culture. After all, I was staying in the Trossachs national park and I had just walked up a hill with spectacular views over the loch.
The food was high quality and the prices were reasonable considering it’s a very popular spot for tourists and walkers stopping by. As well as the restaurant/bar, there is a small cafe at the opposite side that sell coffee, a variety of teas and amazing ice cream! (Yes we bought ice cream in November!)
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