Visiting a loch while you’re here is surely on everyone’s list when they plan a trip to Scotland. But if you’re not planning on driving, the more remote lochs will be out of reach. Here’s how you can explore Loch Lomond without a car.
The bonnie lochs of Scotland, full of mystery and romance (and water of course), carve blue trails across the country’s rugged face. Thoughts come of wild remote glens leading down to quiet waters where none but the red deer roam.
Yet some are less remote and hard to reach as you might think.
How to explore Loch Lomond without a car
Loch Lomond is Scotland’s biggest loch by surface area, which is what you want, isn’t it? After all it’s the bit you can see. It’s also one of the most accessible lochs in the country.
And with beautiful views from the town of Balloch at the loch’s southern end, it’s got everything but a monster to tick the boxes on your loch list.
How to get to Loch Lomond from Glasgow
Under 20 miles (30km) from Glasgow, the town of Balloch sits in prime position on the shores of the southern tip of Loch Lomond. And even better than that, this town has a direct train route to Glasgow.
Going from either Glasgow Central or Glasgow Queen Street Station, the ScotRail train will take you through the city then through the countryside following the River Clyde straight to Balloch.
It takes around 50 minutes and costs around A$20 return.
How to get to Loch Lomond from Edinburgh
If you’re in Edinburgh, it is possible to get to Loch Lomond by train, but it’ll take about 2 hours and 30 minutes and you’ll have to change trains at either Glasgow Queen Street Station or Dalmuir.
It’s still worth the effort if you’re in Edinburgh for more than a few days, though even better would be to stay in Glasgow for a few nights and make the easier journey to the loch from there.
The train from Edinburgh stops at Balloch town too.
How to explore Loch Lomond without a car
There’s so much to do around the loch right from Balloch Station, there’s really no need for a car. There are plenty of walks all around this southern end of Loch Lomond that make it the perfect place to come on a sunny summer’s day.
If it’s raining or too cold to walk, and you want to see things like Balloch Castle (highly recommended), you might be able to get a taxi there. Otherwise it’s an easy 10-minute walk through the beautiful parklands surrounding the castle.
Balloch Castle is a 19th Century rebuild on the ruins of the original 13th Century castle owned by the Lennox family. Views out from its beautiful Tudor Gothic style walls over the loch are sublime.
Loch Lomond is too big to be able to see all of it even in a few days with your own boat. However, the views from Balloch town at the southern end give you a pretty good idea of what Loch Lomond looks like.
If you want to go out on the water, there are regular boat tours from the ferry landing with Sweeney’s Cruises and you can book your tickets from the booth nearby.
In the summer you can hire jet skis if you want a bit more speed and independence. There’s also an airborne tour in the shape of a seaplane that goes from Cameron House further round from Balloch. Check out Loch Lomond Seaplanes for more.
From what we saw, the best of Balloch is along the shores of the loch and either side within about a 5-10 minute walk. Pubs, cafés, and fish and chip shops in the area from the station to the shore are perfect for snacks and refreshments.
Near the visitor information building, which is definitely worth going into for some tips on what to do, there are lots more attractions and points of interest.
We found it easy to spend the day in Balloch and the shores of Loch Lomond. It’s a beautiful spot and really satisfied our appetite to see a Scottish loch and many of its trimmings. We even got in a chip supper and square sausage while we were there!
How to get to Luss
Further north – on the west coast of Loch Lomond – is the ancient village of Luss. It’s thought to be one of the first parts of the region to have been settled, with evidence of people living there over 5000 years ago.
These days, Luss is a beautiful little loch-side village worth visiting. You can get a bus from Balloch that takes about 20 minutes.
The 305, 926 and 976 buses run every 15 minutes between Luss and Balloch. That means you shouldn’t have to worry too much about catching the train back to Glasgow.
For another great train ride to somewhere beautiful in Scotland, you should check out our friend’s story on Corrour Station – made famous in Trainspotting all those years ago!
Have you visited any of the lochs throughout Scotland? Where would you recommend we visit for our next trip to this beautiful country? Tell us in the comments below!