The Trossachs were Scotland’s first national park, and yet there’s still a little bit of confusion as to just where they are, or perhaps to be more precise, where they begin and finish. In broad terms, the Trossachs are east of Loch Lomond and west of Stirling. It consists of four stunning areas of Scotland, Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, Argyll Forest and the mountainous Breadalbane. The park covers an area of 720 square miles and has a boundary length of 220 miles.
Although its technically part of the national park, Loch Lomond is sometimes viewed as distinct, perhaps for being that little more accessible. Many visitors will take the A82 from Glasgow and confine themselves to the west shore of Loch Lomond. The Trossachs are about 45 minutes to the east on the A811. Whereas Loch Lomond won’t let you down if looking for a day-trip in the countryside from Glasgow, the Trossachs will usually surpass it.
Loch Ard, looking towards Ben Lomond in the distance
The Trossachs are steeped in the romantic era of pioneering Victorian exploration. They are a collection of beautiful lochs, a place of intimate glens, a place where hills begin to become mountains, it’s a place of enchanting forests and beguiling woodland trails. The Trossachs are often referred to as ‘The Highlands in miniature’ and that needn’t be an unfair description. The Trossachs wouldn’t be as wild and raw as the Highlands proper. They are more picturesque. Their primary attraction is probably their beauty rather than their savagery. Loch Katrine is the Trossachs principal loch, and consistently ranks amongst Scotland’s most beautiful. If time is limited, then concentrating around Aberfoyle and Loch Katrine is probably your best bet
Loch Katrine is probably the jewel in the Trossachs National Park
The Loch Katrine was the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s literary masterpiece, ‘the Lady of the Lake’ (1810). When it was published it became an early international best-seller. The Trossachs quickly became a magnet for those seeking romantic beauty. Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Ruskin all came to the area. Today the loch is served by a steamboat bearing the author’s name which has been in service since 1900
Tigh Mor Trossachs, by Loch Achray. Formerly the Trossachs Hotel, it was built in the 19th century to accommodate the influx of visitors to the area following the publication in of Sir Walter Scott’s poem The Lady of the Lake
Scott wasn’t long in going back to the Trossachs for inspiration. In 1817 he wrote his novel ‘Rob Roy’, a romantic portrayal of outlaw cattleman/ protection racketeer/ thief, Raibert Ruadh born by Loch Katrine and buried at nearby Balquhidder. Popularly held to be a Scottish Robin Hood, Rob Roy’s history does at least have some historic record. As regards who the real Rob Roy was? Well that’s not for us to go into here, he’s capable of being interpreted in quite a few different ways though, it depends on what you want to believe. Rob Roy’s Cave is an attraction on the east bank of Loch Lomond and can be reached on foot from a narrow track west of Loch Arklet
Dukes Pass, The Trossachs. Scottish woodland with Ben Ledi in the background.
Loch Ard and Loch Arklet are two more Trossachs lochs of note. Neither are as big as Loch Katrine, but both will normally feature in any top-20 list of Scotland’s best. There is a minor road (B829) which forks left out of Aberfoyle and allows you to skirt the northern shores of Loch Ard, the eastern shore of Loch Chon, through the forest of Loch Ard to finish at the eastern head of Arklet
Loch Arklet has sense of the desolate about it and is starting to feel more Highland