KNOWN as the gateway to the Highlands, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is 720 square miles of Scotland at its bonnie best.
Expansive lochs, enchanting forests, sprawling glens and imposing mountains typify the country’s first national park, a mere 50-minute drive from central Glasgow.
This year Loch Lomond and The Trossachs celebrates its 20th anniversary since the official formation — so what better time to visit?
SET among more than 400 acres of gorgeous Scottish countryside, the 5H Cameron House is undoubtedly the national park’s most lavish resort.
Barack Obama was a recent guest here, and from minute one you’ll feel like a star too.
The welcoming concierge will park your car and have your luggage in the room before you’re checked in.
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And if you opt for one of the opulent suites, like Obama did, the mini bar is complementary and includes a full-sized bottle of Glenmorangie single malt whisky.
Finer touches such as Hunter wellies for use during your stay and pre-dinner canapes served to your room only add to the glamour. Several restaurants, including fine- dining spot Tamburrini & Wishart and a cosy sports pub, pepper the resort, all using local seasonal ingredients.
Resort activities include a cinema, waterside falconry and 4×4 off-road driving, all arranged through your personal guest experience manager.
There’s also a leisure club with a rooftop infinity pool.
Walks and cycle routes
SCOTLAND’S most southerly munro — that’s a mountain at least 3,000ft high — is Ben Lomond.
This well-trodden hill walk is a fairly steady ascent and takes around five hours to climb and descend, depending on your ability.
There’s a car park at Rowardennan Pier, but arrive early.
If hills aren’t your thing, there are plenty of flatter routes for all abilities too, from casual ambles through the pretty conservation villages of Luss and Killin, to pacy rambles towards the old railway line at Glen Ogle.
The West Highland Way and Rob Roy Circular, starting in Drymen, also provides a brief introduction to two of Scotland’s most popular long-distance walking routes.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs is well suited for cycling breaks too.
Hire bikes from Cycle Luss (cycleluss.com) and add on a charcuterie board picnic to enjoy en route.
The West Loch Lomond Cycle Path runs for around 17 miles between Balloch and Tarbet, following the water’s edge for epic views across to Ben Lomond and beyond.
Another spot popular with cyclists is the Three Lochs Forest Drive, part of the NCN7 national cycle route.
By car, follow directions for the Duke’s Pass and head up the snaking hillside towards this seven-mile waymarked route.
By bike, follow the NCN7 Lochs & Glens Way through the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre in Aberfoyle.
Here, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of Loch Drunkie, Loch Achray and Lochan Reòidhte.
There are plenty of places to stop, and camping spots too.
AT Loch Lomond Leisure, groups can book a speedboat pub tour for up to four hours — ideal for stag and hen parties.
Departing from Luss Pier, you’ll dock at waterside pubs in Inverbeg, Inversnaid and Rowardennan.
Judging by the giggling groups often seen zooming over the loch, you’ll have a great time.
It costs £360 per boat, for up to ten people.
But there’s no real need for speed.
In the Trossachs, Loch Katrine — once a holiday site for Queen Victoria — offers slower-paced cruises.
Tours give the best views of the mountain Ben Venue, Queen Victoria’s Royal Cottage, the popular Primrose Hill and beyond.
Loch Katrine, the source of Glasgow’s water, is also home to the famed century-old Walter Scott Steamship, which it is hoped will be back sailing later this year.
THE national park is home to 22 lochs, including Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest inland body of water, and Loch Long, whose two arms complete the park’s three sea lochs.
Loch Lomond, with its often-calm waters, is ideal for beginner paddleboarders and kayakers.
It also has several wooded islands.
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Keep an eye out for the wallabies on Inchconnachan, but perhaps not for the nudists on Inchmurrin.
Paddleboards and kayaks can be hired from Portnellan Farm (portnellanfarm.co.uk/activities/).
GO: Loch Lomond
STAYING THERE: One night’s B&B in a double room at Cameron House is from £295.
OUT & ABOUT: For the speedboat pub tour, see lochlomond-scotland.com/boat-tours/speedboat-pub-tour.
For paddleboards and kayak hire, see portnellanfarm.co.uk/activities.
MORE INFO: see lochlomond-trossachs.org.
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