By Yon Bonnie Banks - Loch Lomond Guided Day Tour
There are lots of ways in which you can enjoy a day tour to Loch Lomond. Taking a tour with a qualified experienced guide who can take you off the beaten track and show you hidden gems is a great idea to explore the area.
Many thanks to Scottish Tourist Guide Morag Dunbar for this guest blog post giving us an insight into one of her recent day tours to Loch Lomond, in which she accompanies three appreciative visitors from Michigan, USA. Not that long ago I had the pleasure of driving three lively ladies from Michigan, USA, round Scotland, the highlight of which was a day exploring Loch Lomond. As a Scottish Tourist Guide, I have the pleasure of knowing some wee gems, so when Susie, Pat and Wendy wanted to stay somewhere picturesque I was able to suggest the pretty village of Luss, where both hotel and B&B accommodation is available. Right on the shores of the loch on the West side, Luss is a former slate mining community. The little cottages which once housed the quarry workers are now privately owned with beautifully kept gardens displaying a variety of flowers throughout the summer – very “picture-postcard”. We had arrived late afternoon the previous day and immediately set about exploring, starting with the little church. There we learned about history (ancient and modern), a local boat tragedy which resulted in the building of the present Church and, in the graveyard, we discovered a Viking hogback grave. Yes, these Vikings were so determined to see Loch Lomond that they carried their boats from the sea at Arrochar on the West coast across two miles of land to reach the loch! I assume they then indulged in their usual pre-colonisation pillaging activities. One great advantage of driver-guiding is that it allows the guide to match itineraries to the clients’ interests. Wendy, Susie and Pat are all keen walkers and so our day was mainly to be outdoors in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the first one established in Scotland. However, with their holiday coming to an end they had also asked about shopping and a chance to enjoy some home-baking to round off the afternoon. We started our day with a drive up to Tarbert to take the 10am “Cruise Loch Lomond” ferry to Rowardennan on the East side of the Loch (or at least they did and I drove round to park a couple of miles north of Balmaha). I then set off walking up the loch to meet them walking down and, after our rendezvous, we made our way to the Oak Tree Inn where we had a very nice lunch, sitting outside in the sunshine and enjoying the humour of the sign which read, “Muddy Boots Welcome”. [Of course if the girls had not been walkers, they could have enjoyed a leisurely cruise with one of the companies operating on the loch. They could even have taken a seaplane ride. There are so many different options.] Just off Balmaha lies the little island of Inchcailloch. MacFarlane’s is a family-run boat company based in the village and has been running trips there for years so, in no time at all, we were on the island enjoying a circular walk featuring a fabulous viewpoint, an old ruined church where the information board told us about the drunken funeral practices once “enjoyed” locally. There was also the prospect of seeing a white deer (which failed to show itself but we were assured it did exist). The boat re-appeared as if by magic to take us back, after which we piled into the car, all of our walking for the day over and the attraction of shopping now a priority. Loch Lomond Shores at Balloch at the South end was our destination so I dropped them off there to explore the various shopping outlets, one of which is the store Jenners. While they endured this activity I headed for a local café overlooking the loch and enjoyed a coffee and the view. Finally, “shopped out”, it was back to Luss for the home baking I had promised them earlier. The Coach House Coffee shop is well-known for its quality food and baking. The fact that the serving staff includes some young men who wear kilts went down very well with the ladies but not enough to distract them from the wide variety of cakes. How they managed dinner that night I do not know. If you’d like to book a Scottish Tourist Guide and make your experience of Loch Lomond even better just click here. Check out Morag Dunbar's Scottish Tourist Guide profile here, or follow her on Twitter For more information on the Scottish Tourist Guides Association visit www.stga.co.uk