The single biggest expanse of inland water in the British Isles, Loch Lomond brings together two very different Scotlands.
From its 'bonnie banks', located within the boundaries of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park to Helensburghs elegant promenades and the shipping heritage of the Clyde celebrated throughout West Dunbartonshire, this is an area of dramatic contrasts.
To the north, the loch is narrow and deep, with the surrounding mountains rising dramatically from the shoreline. The little village of Ardlui is tucked beneath these peaks, where the River Falloch flows from its Highland source into the north of the loch. On the eastern side, a beautiful, sheltered stretch of the West Highland Way hugs the shore, passing a RSPB reserve amidst deciduous woodlands. Ferries and pleasure cruises operate throughout the season from the lochside communities of Tarbet, Balloch, Balmaha and Luss and are a perfect way to explore the area.
The sheltered harbour at Balmaha is the ideal centre for sailing and water-sports, while the championship golf course at Loch Lomond Golf Club regularly attracts household names to world-class golfing tournaments. Walking and hiking enthusiasts are also amply catered for. A gentle stroll through the Balloch Castle Country Park or Queen Elizabeth Forest Park will lead you past charming lochside villages and sandy bays while for the more adventurous, the mountains to the north offer more strenuous walks and climbs.
To the west of Loch Lomond sits Helensburgh with its broad avenues, piers and promenades. Of the town's graceful architecture, Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Hill House is the jewel in the crown, but there is much else to commend Helensburgh as an ideal base from which to tour the area's picturesque villages nestling along the loch-indented Clyde estuary. At the head of Loch Long stands the small holiday village of Arrochar, dwarfed by the magnificent splendour of the famed Arrochar Alps that encircle thes upper reaches of the loch. The distinctive shape of The Cobbler - Ben Arthur - is one of Scotland's most familiar landmarks and a mecca for both walkers and climbers. Walking, cycling and pony trekking are also well catered for in the nearby Argyll Forest Park.
The southern shores of Loch Lomond open into a broad, fertile valley that wends its way alongside the fast-flowing River Leven, one of the better salmon and sea trout rivers in Scotland. Several small villages overlook the river as it joins the Clyde at the ancient town of Dumbarton. Dominating the skyline here is the majestic rock, a volcanic plug, upon which Dumbarton Castle stands to guard the Clyde Estuary. The castle is one of the oldest fortified sites in Britain and has been of considerable significance throughout the centuries. Near at hand is Clydebank, ideal for shopping and leisure pursuits.