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Base for 5 days around Loch Lomond

C H
Ottawa, Canada
4 posts
1 review
Base for 5 days around Loch Lomond

My partner and I (early 30's, relatively fit, good hikers but not mountaineers by any measure) are planning to spend 9 days or so in Scotland in October, with a few days in Edinburgh/Glasgow and then probably about 5 days around Loch Lomond/the Trossachs.

Once we escape the cities, we'd like to spend our time doing good day hikes, enjoying pub food, and maybe hit up a distillery. I gather Loch Lomond is a bit more accessible for this type of thing than Cairngorms (Cairngorms seems to have more remote through-hikes and mountains to climb, and we're looking for something a bit more low-key this trip.)

We typically camp when we travel (often in cold, rainy places), and toyed with the idea of renting a small camper van, but given the time of year/likelihood of rain and chilly weather, having someplace inside with a warm shower at the end of the day is appealing, so we're aiming more toward a B&B/cozy inn for this trip. We're used to sleeping on the ground and self-catering, so we don't necessarily need luxury accommodations or fine dining.

Any ideas for a town or village to base ourselves in for a few days? We don't want it to be a road trip; ideally we wouldn't even have to hire a car, but can do if necessary.

Thanks!

Edit: I've just seen this topic, which may cover some of the same ground! Whoops. I'll have a look there. :)

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g55192…

Edited: 14 August 2018, 02:53
7 replies to this topic
Glasgow, United...
Destination Expert
for Scotland
Level Contributor
5,109 posts
530 reviews
1. Re: Base for 5 days around Loch Lomond

There are plenty mountains at and around Loch Lomond, at least as many as Cairngorm.Different walking though - drier underfoot in Cairngorm, huge plateaux/big rounded mountains and some big long through routes.

Much pointier, rockier in the west - more dramatic to the eye, more sea/loch/mountain combos.

Have you thought of heading for Glencoe and basing there? Preferably with a car.Superb walking of great variety.

Or look at Bridge of Orchy if it's not too tiny - only a hotel there, used a lot by walkers and on the A82 road - big country all around.

On the Trossachs side you could also look at Callander.

Edited: 14 August 2018, 04:39
Edinburgh, United...
Level Contributor
3,060 posts
9 reviews
2. Re: Base for 5 days around Loch Lomond

Sure, the Cairngorms have long distance through routes ... but I think that misses the point. If you stay in Aviemore there's local transport up and down the Spey Valley. There are lots of circular one day mountain routes, but that too ain't your target. There are beautiful forest walks in Rothiemurchus and the areas SE and NE of there. There's transport from Aviemore up to the ski slopes, and the mountain railway up to the shoulder of Cairrngorm. You can walk or bus to Coylumbridge or Loch Morlich and head into the forests. Some uphill. not much. You can head from Glenmore Lodge, past the Green Lochan to Ryvoan, and either return a similar route or srike north through gentle forest to Nethy Bridge. https:/…map3_15sk.shtml

So I think you've dismissed Aviemore too quickly.

OK, back to the Trossachs. There are lots of loch and forest walks in the area, but public transport is a big problem. There are occasional buses up the east coast of Loch Lomond, as far as Balmaha, I think, but certainly NOT as far as Rowardennan. Most long distance buses ply the west shore - Balloch, Luss, Tarbet come to mind.

Aberfoyle is the obvious 'centre' for the Trossachs, but public transport is hard to come by. And the obvious place to visit might be Loch Katrine. Boat trips, or hire a bike. No bus transport to the pierhead (Trossachs Pier) or the other pier at Stronachlachar. A great shame.

If you go to Loch Lomond or the Trossachs, a car will make a LOAD of difference.

Edited: 14 August 2018, 05:07
Edinburgh, United...
Level Contributor
3,064 posts
615 reviews
3. Re: Base for 5 days around Loch Lomond

If you would hire a car, I would recommend the very edge of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park in Killin, or surrounding area around Loch Tay, with plenty good walking and plenty options in Killin, or Kenmore/Aberfeldy at the other end of the Loch.

C H
Ottawa, Canada
4 posts
1 review
4. Re: Base for 5 days around Loch Lomond

Thanks for the replies!

We're not *against* mountain hikes (circular one day routes sound like just the ticket, actually), but we're not super experienced in them. We have done some hilly hiking with similar elevations to the Munros, if not the craggy bits (no special climbing equipment needed) along the Wales coast path, the North Island in New Zealand, the Adirondacks in the US among others. But I know you have to be more careful in questionable weather, plus we'd rather not risk hiking in the snow; winter's quite long enough in Canada to start that early!

I'll take another look at Aviemore; I'm really still in preliminary research mode, so most anything is possible at this point.

Glencoe also looks fabulous! One week is just too short a time, but that's all the vacation time we've got at the moment.

I think if we decided on a car, we might as well go for a camper at that point and cut back on our accommodation costs too. It's still in the cards.

Edited: 14 August 2018, 05:59
London, United...
Level Contributor
237 posts
41 reviews
5. Re: Base for 5 days around Loch Lomond

I think Loch Lomond & the Trossachs is a great area, we’ve stayed in Dryden a couple of times and found it a good location to visit the area. I’d recommend Conic Hill hike, stunning views over the Loch. The Aberfoyle visitor centre is good for red squirrels if you’re interested in seeing them.

With 5 days, I’d consider 2 days in Glencoe and 3 days in Loch Lomond.

C H
Ottawa, Canada
4 posts
1 review
6. Re: Base for 5 days around Loch Lomond

An update, as a thanks for the advice, and for anyone searching similar topics!

We ended up renting a car, and it was really nice to have the flexibility, and see a bit more than we would have just relying on transit. We ended up staying in three different places: Newtonmore (near Aviemore), Fort William, and Crianlarich.

In retrospect, it would have been nice to spend one more day exploring Cairngorms, which I'm really glad we checked out. It felt much more remote and isolated than the Loch Lomond area, even though it was still accessible, with plenty of people around. I would also have picked a different town than Crianlarich, which was a bit of a one-horse (or one-pub) town. But the price of the hotel was right, and the location at the crossroads was convenient for seeing both the Trossachs and Loch Lomond. Things are overall pretty close together, so with a car it was easy to do a hike, get dinner/explore one town for the evening, and stay in another town.

More details: After two days in Edinburg, we drove up to Caingorms and stayed in a lovely B&B in Newtonmore. Hiked up nearby Meall a Bhuachaille. Could have gladly spent more time there, but lots of rain in the forecast lead us to choose a town-based next stop. We spent two days near Fort William, one hiking to Steall Falls (in the rain, but still a nice hike) and another just exploring Fort William and surroundings. Next morning was perfectly clear and sunny, so we headed up the fantastic Lost Valley in Glen Coe, then spent the evening in Killin before retiring to Crianlarich. I think Killin would have made a really great base for a few days; it was positively picturesque (beautiful fall colours made a fabulous backdrop to the falls), had a greater variety of restaurants/cafes than Crianlarich, and felt a bit more 'lived in' and a bit further off the tourist track than Luss.

For a sunny second day in Loch Lomond, we hiked Beinn Dubh. It was a really great hike, and walking the saddle between the 'summits' was exactly what I was picturing highland hiking to be. Luss was a cute town to wander around after our hike, but I think I wouldn't have wanted to stay there. Too busy and touristy in a small footprint for my preferences.

Our final day was a downpour. Having driven up and down Loch Lomond twice already (squeezing by tour buses is no joke on those narrow roads!), we drove the long way around through Callander to get to Balmaha. I'd wanted to hike up Conic Hill, but it would have been all work for little reward in the deluge and mist, so we took the little ferry over to Inchcailloch instead. Not a bad little stroll for a rainy day!

Overall a great trip, with some wonderful weather and some expected rain. Wish I could have spent much longer!

Glasgow, United...
Destination Expert
for Scotland
Level Contributor
5,109 posts
530 reviews
7. Re: Base for 5 days around Loch Lomond

Nice report and a useful insight for others into how you found it all.Yes, the problem with the Loch Lomond area especially on the A82 side is that , well it does have that main trunk road going right up the loch side and being so close to the central belt, it's very accessible.

I think the Beinn Dubh hike is a wee cracker -we have done it often and the views over to the Arrochar Alps is stunning.Classic West Highlands. Meall na Buachaille is also a fine hike; the colours just now are simply wonderful.

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