Scotland’s Gorgeous Loch Lomond
Scotland’s Gorgeous Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond – the largest lake in Scotland and considered by many its most beautiful – was the first stop on my glorious road trip into the Highlands back in September. Which, I suppose, makes this post a little overdue.
Loch Lomond was in my top three places to visit in Scotland, alongside dreamy Isle of Skye (post here) and gloomy Glen Coe, because I love being by the water, be it either a lake, or a sea, or an ocean. There is always an accompanying sense of tranquillity and serenity near water, unless there is a storm raging! Perhaps, it’s the almost imperceptible sound of calm waters, or the glistening sparkle of the water in the afternoon sunshine, or the breath of healthy fresh air that seems to be implied with open water present.
An easy, pleasant one-hour drive from Glasgow, Loch Lomond is a natural rural retreat for many of the city’s residents. They come here for the copious, wonderfully scenic hiking trails, an array of water-based activities, or simply for some peace and quiet, eager to escape from the hustle and bustle of the often- intense city life.
Following a lunch of deliciously tender venison at Ubiquitous Chip – one of Glasgow’s top eating establishments tucked away in a cobbled street – I picked up my brilliant blue Mini from Europcar, its colour as blue as the Scottish flag and even more vibrant in the dazzling autumn sunshine, and headed straight to the lake.
Life is all about simple pleasures
Having spent most of September in distressingly noisy and polluted London, I was incredibly excited about simply sitting by the edge of the lake, listening to the subtle splashes of water, and daydreaming. And, at some point, putting on my hiking shoes and taking one of numerous scenic trails winding though lush forests surrounding Loch Lomond, followed by a glass or two of smokey, sweet whisky at one of the old drinking dens, which you can’t help but accidentally stumble upon whilst in the area.
The West Highland Way – Truly Scenic Hiking
Having had a look at all the available hiking options in the environs of our hotel, we decided to walk a few miles of the West Highland Way, winding its way along the hilly, forested Eastern shore of Loch Lomond.
According to the Lonely Planet – which I consider the Bible of travel – one of the “must-do” activities in Scotland is indeed to walk the 96-mile West Highland Highway. Unfortunately, we did not have a whole week to dedicate to walking this epic route, but sampling it for a day was a feasible and exciting option!
The walk was wonderful indeed, providing us with impressive views of the lake whenever the trees opened up. I was very surprised by how dense and green the forest was, full of mighty tall trees and plush soft grass. I always imagined that Scotland’s landscapes mostly consisted of barren, wind-swept moors, with some puny trees dotted about, so this gorgeous natural scenery was a very lovely surprise!
Drover’s Inn – The Epitome of Local Drinking Dens
Our first night being a Saturday, my brother and I decided to try out a local drinking den since sampling a couple (or more) Scottish whiskies was on our agenda. And, since neither one of us is a “loser”, staying in cooped up in our hotel was definitely out of the question.
It turned out that the closest drinking establishment to us, other than our hotel bar, was Drover’s Inn: a local and very popular historic howff, which swung its doors wide open to the public all the way back in 1705. This bizarre place, with its low ceilings, smoke-blackened stone walls, gloomy paintings and kilt-wearing barmen and ladies, was full of stuffed creatures, some real, some seemingly not-so.
There was an example of what seemed to be a little lamb with two heads, and a bizarre mystical animal called The Haggis, locked up in a glass case and proudly displayed. Somewhat confused by its appearance, and, I suppose, by a couple of glasses of some excellent whisky, I spent a few minutes examining it, but came to the conclusion that it was not a real life animal after all. I mean, how can a mammal simultaneously have bird-like feathers and fur?
Where to Stay: Ardlui Hotel
Rooms at the Ardlui Hotel are rudimentary, but the location just by the water on the northern side of the Lake, is unbeatable. The hotel has a private garden with a gazebo, perfect for either relaxing with a book or for simply gazing at Loch Lomond.