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Where to take a cruise from? And possible route to Stirling?

Brisbane, Australia
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4,195 posts
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Where to take a cruise from? And possible route to Stirling?

Hi all, I'm currently planning a 2 week holiday in Scotland next April. At this stage, my husband and I are aiming to drive from Oban to Stirling on a Saturday - but we have lots of stops on this day. It will be a long drive, and we are prepared for this as it will our second last full day in Scotland. No jet lag, and we will have just had 2 nights in Oban.

During this day, we are hoping to take a cruise on Loch Lomond, and I wondered if I could get some opinions on which is the best for scenery and just a general sense of enjoyment. Not sure if that makes sense! The options so far are:

Tarbet (1hr cruise) - cruiselochlomond.co.uk/northern-highlights-f…

Luss (1.5hr cruise) - cruiselochlomond.co.uk/capercaillie-from-luss

Balloch (1hr cruise) - https:/…

I originally thought we could take a cruise from Tarbet or Luss and then head down to Balloch for a walk around town/wander around the water front for another hour or so. Maybe even have some afternoon tea there (any suggestions?).

We will probably only leave Balloch at 5pm, and we were thinking that we could either go straight to Stirling, or we could detour via Trossach. I wasn't sure if there were any nice places to stop for views of Loch Achray and Loch Venachar - and if so, is it worth it? I believe that the sun sets approx 8:30pm in late April.

Thanks for any help or suggestions you can make. It really helps with the planning process!

7 replies to this topic
glasgow scotland
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1. Re: Where to take a cruise from? And possible route to Stirling?

If you were doing it route direct then it’s 2hrs 10 mins (estimated), however that route has you missing the Loch altogether.

So my suggestion would be to go via Inveraray on the A83, Which brings you out onto the A82 at Tarbet, that section of the Loch is the most scenic.

You would then head down the side of the Loch on the A82, taking in Luss enroute, and at Balloch turn Left onto the A811 towards Stirling.

Your somewhat “romantic” description of walking the waterfront at Balloch will be disappointing!

The Town doesn’t actually have a waterfront onto the Loch, being a half mile downstream from the Loch on the River Leven.

If you want a Tea with a view then stop at Lomond Shores Outlet, a small shopping mall on a wee bay.

If you want to stop for something more substantial like Lunch, then I highly recommend the The Duck Bay Restaurant which has a full restaurant with scenic views and the Loch lapping the Patio, or have an excellent Strawberry Tart and Tea in the adjoining Tea Room.

Balloch to Stirling is only about 45 mins.

Edited: 16 September 2018, 15:17
Brisbane, Australia
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4,195 posts
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2. Re: Where to take a cruise from? And possible route to Stirling?

Hi madscotsman, thanks for your quick reply! I maybe should have mentioned that we intend to travel to Loch Lomond via Kilmartin and Inverary. We just had a chat about the castle and will probably only just walk through the gardens, not go inside the castle.

We got a laugh out of your comment about the 'romantic walk', I didn't mean it that way, and if you knew us, you'd know romance isn't our thing, hehe!!

Ok, so we are on the right track at least. Any thoughts on the cruises themselves? And thank you for the suggestion of The Duck Bay Restaurant... looks good!

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3. Re: Where to take a cruise from? And possible route to Stirling?

At Balloch, the River Leven runs from the loch through the town and is lined with boats, so, although not the loch, is quite interesting in itself. Also, where the cruises go from. If you walk along the east bank of the river and into the Balloch Country Park there is a stretch of park along the lochside. There is parking in and by the park. west-dunbarton.gov.uk/leisure-parks-events/…

The deck at Duck Bay which madscotsman mentioned is certainly a very agreeable spot. If you have time, you might like to go a bit up the east bank to Balmaha. It is definitely worth taking the route through the Trossachs via Aberfoyle, the Duke's Pass and Callander to reach Stirling, several spots to stop for views; and if you go this way, I'd urge you to take the short detour to Loch Katrine and walk along the shore for a bit.

Brisbane, Australia
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4,195 posts
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4. Re: Where to take a cruise from? And possible route to Stirling?

Hi David, thanks heaps for your reply, it really helps! Ok, we will definitely take the detour on the way to Stirling.

If we have time, we will try to visit Balmaha as well. Looks lovely!

Barrhead, United...
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5. Re: Where to take a cruise from? And possible route to Stirling?

You can get a romantic walk on the shores of Loch Lomond if that is what you are after. In Balloch is Balloch Castle Country Park. There are two main entrances. There is one not far from Balloch railway station and there is a car park. You can get some pretty views here and the walk is very pleasant. Nice place to stretch your legs after a day in the car.

I did a cruise from Tarbert a number of years ago. It was in the evening. The alcohol was flowing. I remember nothing other than returning safely- so my experience is of absolutely no use to you, unless you want to drink copious amounts of alcohol and remember nothing.

Glasgow, United...
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6. Re: Where to take a cruise from? And possible route to Stirling?

I'd definitely opt for the cruise from Tarbert visiting the northern section of the loch. The mountains are more impressive there and the loch narrows a bit more - beautiful.If you stop over for a couple of hours at Inversnaid, various walking routes are signposted from there.The long distance route, the West Highland Way goes through Inversnaid too.

Pretty wee Luss village also has the excellent Coachhouse Coffeshop which does light lunches and great soup and bread (and gigantic scones and meringues and various cakes, all home made.)That would be my choice for afternoon tea!

There are some great views of the loch too from Ross Priory which is short detour off the road to Stirling.I'd skip Balloch unless you plan to walk in the park, which does offer a lovely setting.

If you stop at Firkin Point on Loch Lomond itself, you can walk for a couple of miles each direction along the loch shore on the old road(pedestrians and cyclists only now.)

Enjoy Kilmartin - it is superb! The cafe/tea room there is good too:)

If you enjoy gardens, then the glorious woodland Crarae Garden south of Inveraray, is worth a look.Run by the National Trust for Scotland but outwith peak season(Easter onwards), it's an honesty box.Just a delightful place to roam for an hour.

The Duke's Pass road above Aberfoyle has some great spots to view the lovely Trossachs landscape , including the lochs.Venachar Lochside is bistro right beside it's namesake.The Lake Hotel on Lake of Menteith is a pretty spot for a stop too - that's the short cut way to Callander from Aberfoyle.

Brisbane, Australia
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7. Re: Where to take a cruise from? And possible route to Stirling?

Hi Kill0ch and Scotlandmac, thanks for your replies!

We had a bit of a change of plan... we were going to do 2 nights in Stirling at the end of our trip based on what RyanAir's departure time to Rome was in March - 3:50pm (from Edinburgh). I assumed, hoped really, that this time woulnd't change going forward. Unfortunately it did - from April onwards they changed the time to departing at 6:30am.

So instead, we are now going to fly Jet2 from Glasgow at 7:30am (this is on a Monday) and have our last night at the Premier Inn at the airport. Glorious, I know! This means that we won't be able to do the eastern side of the Trossachs NP.

Our last full day in Scotland will now be: depart Oban > Kilmartin > Inverary > Tarbet (decided on that cruise) > Luss/Balloch > Glasgow airport.

It will also give us a chance to catch the bus into Glasgow for dinner that night (any recommendations?). We'll have a few hours of daylight left in Glasgow to have a wander I hope!

Thanks again for your help :)

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