Getaway for A Weekend—The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond Peace or Play? How to Enjoy Two Sides of a Beautiful Lake
Scotland can be a noisy place with its bagpipes and highland games, but the this northern British country is also full of vast landscapes of calm and solitude. In Scotland, oOne destination in particular shows travelers that both sides of the countryScotland can be enjoyed in a both peaceful and energetic getaway. The Escape Loch Lomond, the largest inland body of water in Great Britain, can be the escape from the busy cities on tourists’ hit lists. Loch Lomond—loch being the Scottish word for lake—is a picturesque gateway to the less- inhabited highland. Amanda Fronk, who visited the lake as a college undergraduate,
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says all her constant traveling to and from Scotland’s more bustling cities wore her out. “[Loch Lomond] allowed me to slow down and take in the beauty.” This beauty is the reason why Rick Duerden takes his study abroad students to enjoy the loch in May. Duerden says, “The landscape there is beautiful in a kind of soothing way—that is, hillsides of bracken, and at that time of year, bluebells. What you’re seeing is ferns and this faint lavender-bluepurple hillside, so it’s just gorgeous.” He says he takes the students to “see, talk, relax, and sort of spiritually let everything go for a while.” Only a 30-minute drive from Glasgow, the lake has many trails winding through dense, green forest. One such trail leads to Rowardennan Hostel, located on the east shore of Loch Lomond. “It’s beautiful in its location,” says Duerden, who hiked for a couple of hours with his students for a couple of hours to reach it. The hostel is isolated enough that you can only drive a small car to it, and it sits only 15 feet from the shore, an idyllic lodging for those seeking peace and relaxation. The Adventure However, the tranquility is only one side of Loch Lomond. “There really are two very different Loch Lomonds,” Duerden says. “The east side of the lake is nothing. There’s a single dirt road and a
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couple of small lodges. There it’s very peaceful and quiet. Then the west side of Loch Lomond is a constant hum of traffic because it’s the main artery from the highlands down to the south.” The west side is where the more activityexcitement-prone travelers venture. On the west sideThere, activities, restaurants, and festivals are generally nearby the harbors, an area that’s where it’s more populated and easily accessedaccessible. The lake is a hotspot for activities, where the Scottish mountainsides juts straight out of the water. Although the water’s temperature is quite chilly even in the summer, you can canoe, water ski, sail, and fish. Jade Thomson, from Dundee, Scotland, says, “You have
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to jump off the pier—if you don’t mind the cold, that is.” If you do mind the cold, she recommends using a paddleboat to enjoy the surroundings. Being on the water isn’t the only way to actively interact with the loch. In the summer, Thomson plans to ride a bike around the lake’s edge. One route takes cyclists along the west edge of the lake, on a 15-mile path passing that passes through small villages, picnic areas, and the national park information centers. You can also go shooting, golfing, or off-roading. After all the physical activity, you can eat at the manya restaurants or visit the food vendors. The Scottish vendors sell fruits, homemade cheeses, and crafts. Fronk says, “Scottish people are very vibrant, so they’re interactive and wanting to come up and get to know you.” The loch also hosts many festivals, including the Lomond Folk Festival in July that features three days of live music and workshops teaching participants to whistle, hula hoop, or play the bodhráan—a handheld Irish drum. Lodging on the west side includes the Cameron House, which is nothing short of a castle and, nestled in the woods next to a golf course. “If you’re up for splashing the cash, then Cameron House is the hotel to stay in,” says Thomson. “It’s a very traditional Scottish hotel right on the waterfront and is known to be the hotel of choice for the rich and famous visiting Scotland.” A Mixture of the Two Travelers looking to experience both the peace and the activity offered at the lake should visit Ben Lomond, a hike that Duerden takes his students on every time they visit Loch Lomond. He says that trekking the seven-mile roundtrip hike is the perfect mix of both sides of Loch Lomond: the tranquility
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and the excitement. “It’s a cross between two very opposite things. One is the peace of just hiking away and finding yourself in a tangle of brush, with a few oak trees, and a stream. . . . That’s sort of the leisurely peaceful moment.” The other side is the strenuous hiking up the peak and feeling quite tired, he says. “It’s that contrast [of feelings] that I really like—one’s peaceful, and one’s exhausted but exhilarated.” Visit www.lochlomond-trossachs.org for information about the different activities available.
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