Another stunning route taking in the famous loch. To me, it’s more scenic again than the Trossachs route but it IS longer by more than 1hr (excluding stops.) It’s the obvious route to use if setting out from Glasgow as Loch Lomond is only 40 mins drive away.
Highlights of the route after Stirling (before and including Stirling see):
Stirling to Balloch: if clear, then this route gives some lovely views over the distant mountains of the Southern Highlands. It passes the villages of Kippen and Arnprior , both sitting in pleasant, rolling countryside, then skirts past the pretty village of Drymen. Nice bakery/takeaway cafe here and a few attractive gift shops.
The photograph below of Loch Lomond was taken one winter’s day at Ross Priory, on the banks of Loch Lomond. Easy car parking and a short walk down to the shore. They do cater for weddings so it can get very busy. The Priory and grounds are a short drive beyond Drymen, off the A811 to Balloch/Loch Lomond.
A beautiful area which gets very busy at its southern end in particular. The A82 to Glencoe runs up the west side of the loch. The east side (accessed from Drymen) is quieter though not by much in peak season!
For more detail on the Loch Lomond area and if you are staying or planning any hikes see:THE BEST OF LOCH LOMOND
Balloch: not much to see in the town itself though the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Centre is here with plenty of leaflet material and general information. Balloch Country Park gives some lovely views over the loch and is a great stop for a stroll and if you have youngsters needing to burn off some energy. Nearby Lomond Shores might satisfy a craving for shopping – signposted in and around Balloch. It also has shore access and children’s activities and cafes/food outlets.
Duck Bay Marina: just beyond Balloch roundabout, this large coffee/lunch place is signposted and well worth a stop especially on a sunny day.
Most recently on a Spring day, I sat on the terrace with a pot of tea and a warmed fruit scone, soaking up the sunshine and just blind-sided by the beauty of the loch – even though this, to me is not it’s most scenic end! Balloch is still in The Lowlands but the views include the Southern Highlands which start just a few miles away at Luss (and Balmaha on the opposite side of the loch.)
Cameron House Hotel: a 5 star luxurious pile right on the loch and adjacent to Duck Bay. Fine dining in Martin Wishart’s restaurant or upscale lunches or tea/coffee in one of several dining areas. Extensive grounds.
The Sea Plane also leaves from the jetty here – I’ve still to try it but trips look terrific.
Ten minutes further up the loch is….
Luss : a pretty Conservation village, always busy with day trippers.
It’s right on the loch and offers short strolls along the shingly beach and round the village to the incredibly pretty church. Ben Dubh rises behind and gives a good hour or so’s climb to the top.
It’s also possible to walk just a short way up Beinn Dubh for great views over Luss, the loch and on the opposite side of the loch, Ben Lomond (which looms 3, 200 feet over the deep blue water.)
The Coachhouse is an excellent (if slightly pricey) cafe which does light lunches. Soups are always good with chunky portions of bread.
Scones are enormous (one would do 2 people easily) and meringues are good. On cold days, a fire is always burning. Male waiters are usually dressed in kilts.
Beyond Luss, Firkin Point is signposted, has parking and toilets and offers a couple of miles of walking on the old road (pedestrianised) along the loch’s lovely shores.
Tarbet: this is where the best boat trips on the loch are. Ideally book ahead. It’s possible to simply cruise the beautiful upper section of the loch but my favourite way to do it is to get off at Inversnaid, a very pretty spot with waterfalls and a hotel. Peaceful! A few nice walking routes too. A great place for a picnic (bring your own, no shop though light lunches are available at the hotel.)
Beyond Tarbet the good, fast A82 now dwindles to a narrow, twisting ribbon of tarmac which for 20 mins, winds its way up the loch. There is very little room on either side of the road so coaches and lorries and campervans – which of course always meet on a tight bend – have to stop, reverse, re-manoeuvre to pass each other. This can lead to regular stop-starts on the road, though delays rarely last long.
Inveruglas: there is a visitor centre here and a viewing area across the loch.
Drover’s Inn: never tried the food in this atmospheric Inn established in 1705, but it’s a popular drinking hole. Beautiful location, very quirky to say the least inside! If it’s been raining then the waterfall behind the hotel is spectacular.
Beyond the Inn, the road soon improves immeasurably!
Falls of Falloch: well worth a stop. Signposted and a 5 min or so drive beyond the Drover’s Inn. Very limited parking. A short path leads to an excellent, purpose built platform giving views to the waterfall and the deep pool known as Rob Roy’s bath-tub. Various boggy paths lead down to the beautiful, rushing river.
Not much in the village as such though Ben More, the highest mountain hereabouts looks very impressive on the drive from Killin.
There are two cafes in this little settlement – The Real Food Cafe (which I’ve never rated much as it just smells like a chippy.Nothing against that as I love fish and chips but as a coffee stop…no. Cakes look industrial strength to me and not ‘home made’.) The Green Welly opposite is cafeteria-like but to me, has a better cake selection. Just going in to use the loos is acceptable in the Green Welly, not so the RFC.
Tyndrum to Glencoe
The drive just gets more and more scenic and becomes wow once Rannoch Moor is reached.I love this whole section though it’s been pretty good scenery wise so far too!
This mountain pyramid rears up out of the moorland a few miles beyond Tyndrum and looks fantastic in good light.There is a pull in on the right but be careful crossing over the A82 which has very fast moving traffic.
The Black Mount
Beyond the Bridge of Orchy Hotel the mountain area on the left is called the Black Mount.It is a beautiful area.It is possible to detour here along the single track road beside the hotel and park near Forest Lodge.
The West Highland Way long distance route heads out here too and various good tracks are possible for a leg stretch beside the river and lonely Loch Tulla. In winter there can be 100s of red deer grazing beside the Inveroran Hotel (closed in winter.)
Loch Tulla Viewpoint
At the top of a climb on the A82 there is a large parking area on the left, where tour minibuses often stop off for views over the loch and the mountains.I rarely stop here, I must admit.I DO often stop a short distance beyond that however as I love the way the light on the mountains at this spot (photo below):
Rannoch Moor/Lochan na h’Achlaise/Loch Ba
Gorgeous spot but almost impossible to pull in off the A82 nowadays to nab a photo of this wild lochan with the mountains behind.What parking exists is on the opposite side of the trunk road, so only accessible if driving this route in the opposite direction.I love this view/area.
About a mile further on, there is easier parking left and right at a spot which gives great views of the Black Mount beyond the moor.A little knoll can be easily climbed on the right hand side of the road and followed down to Loch Ba, another lonely, wild loch. Rannoch Moor often looks like there is more water than moor.To the south, the shapely mountains of Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achallader set off the scene beautifully.I spent a good 20 mins here on a sunny, winter day just sitting by the blue waters lapping at my feet, not a soul around.Stunning.
Buachaille Etive Mor
This iconic mountain, the name of which translates from the Gaelic as The Great Shepherd of Etive , is an absolute wow.It still stops me in my tracks, no matter how often I drive this road (which is a lot!)
This whole area warrants more than just an overnight stop of course and certainly more than the few mins photo stop which sadly, is the most many manage.It is truly one of Scotland’s most impressive places and a photographer’s dream! Even in poor weather there is a majesty about Glencoe’s brooding ancient mountains.
For experienced hill walkers/hikers, at least one good walk here should be planned.
More on enjoying the scenic delights of Glencoe and neighbouring Glen Etive here: THE BEST OF GLENCOE
For more on specific do-able mountain walks which I would recommend for stunning views: