There’s an endless list of possible stops on this route, as with any route to Glencoe from the Central Belt cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh!
The alternative , longer route ( 1hr 15 mins longer) from Edinburgh to Glencoe and which takes in the whole of Loch Lomond’s west side is outlined in this link: Both routes converge at Crianlarich.
An absolutely superb sight.The world’s largest equine sculptures, representing in sparkling steel the heads of the magnificent Clydesdale horses that used to do so much of the heavy work in days gone by. Easy (though busy) parking at The Helix, a relatively newly built park beside the Forth and Clyde Canal.
Another wonderful castle, similar to Edinburgh and often preferred by some to the capital’s edifice (I actually prefer Edinburgh.)It will take up around 2 hours of time including parking and touring the inside.The highlight for me are the Ceiling Heads representing famous Kings and Queens of the past, including Henry VIII.The pretty gardens and extensive ramparts offer good views towards the Ochil Hills and the Wallace Monument.
Tickets also include entry to Argyll’s Lodgings next door, a 17th century Townhouse.The old town of Stirling is worth an explore up by the castle; the Portcullis Bar is very atmospheric.
North of Stirling lies Doune Castle used in Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’ film. Closed at present but viewable from the outside.The small car park gets busy. Doune Village is quaint and there is a pleasant walking loop of two miles or so from the castle along the riverbank and back up through the village to the castle car park.
Callander – a busy, touristy small town/large village with several cafes none of which, sadly, I’ve ever found to be any good.The lovely Roman Camp hotel signposted down a side street and sitting in a pretty situation by the river has recently opened its own cafe so that is on my agenda to visit soon! If the history of Rob Roy MacGregor is of interest, then the town has a Centre dedicated to this famous character (played by Liam Neeson in the film Rob Roy.) If you want to visit Rob Roy’s grave, it is at Balquidder in a beautiful old graveyard beside a pretty stone church.There are usually fresh flowers on the grave, such is he revered by some.
Bracklinn Falls has a car park a 5 min or so (signposted) uphill drive from Callander. A 20 min walk takes you to impressive tumbling falls amongst the woodland.
A lovely loch, part of the Trossachs area with knobbly, often pine forested hills overlooking its dark waters. There is a car park and small visitor centre on the left, half way up the loch.
A detour of a few miles and you arrive at the attractive small village of Killin with beautiful waterfalls running through it – the Falls of Dochart. The Inn opposite the Falls has outside tables (and a useful car park as parking isn’t easy)and it does tea/coffee and scones/cakes as well as lunches.Gets busy in summer and on good weather days.The mountains beyond the village are part of the Ptarmigan Ridge, a fine hill walk.
Not much in the village as such though Ben More, the highest mountain hereabouts looks very impressive on the drive from Killin.
Loch Lomond Detour
If Loch Lomond is a must (and it IS beautiful) a 20 min drive south to Tarbet offers excellent short boat trips which are superbly scenic and give views of the best of the loch’s scenery. Book ahead. This drive is winding and narrow and VERY busy with coaches, lorries and the like so it can be demanding to drive.
That said, I whizz up and down the section almost without thinking but to visitors new to our roads it can be a challenge.
More on the wider area here : THE BEST OF LOCH LOMOND
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:
GLENCOE’S BUACHAILLE ETIVE BEAG
HIGH SUMMER IN GLENCOE: Stob Mhic Mhartuinn Hike
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