SIGHTSEEING AROUND THE TROSSACHS
The Trossachs form the heart of Rob Roy’s old stomping ground, and the glens and bens beyond Lochend are absolutely packed with historical interest. It would take too long to list all the castles and monuments, historic villages and boat trips in the area, but we’ve picked out a few favourites for Trossachs sightseeing, within a half-hour drive of the chalets.
Best places to visit on holiday in the Trossachs
Marooned in the Lake of Menteith, and visible across the bay from our waterfront chalets, Inchmahome is a magical little 5-acre island and site of the ruins of a haunting 13th century priory, where Mary Queen of Scots spent several weeks on the run in 1547. You are no longer allowed to clamber all over the ruins like we did as kids, but there is a beautiful, woodland path right round the island, carpeted in bluebells towards the end of May, while a Yew Tree clearing is perfect for picnics, and exactly where I always imagined the infant Mary once played!
A boat runs daily between Port of Menteith (five minutes from Lochend) and Inchmahome between March 25 and October 31. It's one of the best gentle and beautiful Trossachs sightseeing trips around.
Perched high on a volcanic rock overlooking Stirling, and visible for many miles in every direction, Stirling Castle is every bit as dramatic as Edinburgh Castle – but only 25 minutes from Lochend. On a fine day the gardens are spectacular; on a wet day, the Great Hall, old kitchens and military museum provide a fascinating escape from the rain. There are often re-enactments on summer weekends, and a pleasant cafe will restore your verve after sightseeing.
Lording it over the Forth Valley from its own hilltop perch just across the river from Stirling Castle, this fabulously gothic tower has mighty views from the top over Stirling, the Trossachs, and the site of Wallace’s famous victory over the English at Stirling Bridge (see Braveheart for details!). A spookily narrow staircase leads to a series of galleries containing all sorts of fascinating stuff, including Wallace’s 66” broadsword and William himself, recreated in 3D interactive audiovisual display.
BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN CENTRE
Completed in 2014, the Battle of Bannockburn Centre is a brilliantly entertaining museum our guests say their children really love. Built just a longbow launch from where Robert The Bruce’s army defeated King Edward’s Army, the centre uses animated films, 3D imagery and interactive technology to bring the battle to life. Best to book ahead online.
ROB ROY’S GRAVE
A short drive from one of our favourite cafe-bars in the Trosscahs, Mhor 84, the pretty, wee parish church in Balquhidder is home to the grave of local legend, Rob Roy MacGregor.Continue up the path behind the church for a wonderful view from the McLaren clan viewpoint, about 20-minutes' walk up. Then skip back down and drive 5 minutes back up the glen for a pizza, burger, cake or coffee at Mhor 84.
Britain’s biggest lake (by surface area) is also one of its most beautiful, and a good one to tick off the Trossachs sightseeing bucket list. There are spectacular walks here, but one of the things we really love about Loch Lomond is the wee ferry from Balmaha to Inchcailloch. A gorgeous island, Inchcailloch is covered in oak woodland, with a sandy beach just crying out for your picnic rug.
LOCH LOMOND SHORES
A retail and leisure extravaganza right on the loch’s southern shores, Loch Lomond Shores has cafes, restaurants, shops, a visitor centre, SeaLife aquarium, bird of prey centre, TreeZone aerial adventure course, minigolf, and if that wasn’t enough, cruises on the Maid of the Loch paddle steamer, too.
There is a bike-hire centre and a fabulous cycle path along this beautiful, remote loch, which I always think feels like a Norwegian fjord, hemmed in by the “purple peaks” and “flinty spires” that inspired Sir Walter Scott’s poem, Lady of the Lake. Or just sit back and let the beauty come to you on board the steamship, SS Sir Walter Scott, which cruises up to a cafe at the far end of the loch, very close to the house where Rob Roy was born.
The UK’s largest raised bog to remain in a near-natural state lies only 15 minutes away on the lovely back road between Thornhill and Kippen. It’s a magical, ancient-feeling place, with a viewing tower and lovely half-mile boardwalk around the peat domes and colourful sphagnum mosses, cotton grass and heather. I’ve never seen adders and lizards here myself, but many guests have.
SCOTTISH WOOL CENTRE
A pretty 10-minute drive west of Lochend, Aberfoyle has a friendly Co-op supermarket, a couple of pubs, the walk-tastic Lodge and the Scottish Wool Centre. As well as selling whisky and a foreverness of cashmere cardies, the centre has daily sheepdog demos, birds of prey displays, and a rare breeds farm.
VILLAGES & TOWNS
Killin, 50 minutes' north, is the cutest with its ancient, stone bridge spanning dramatic rapids, and impressive Highland-looking backdrop.
Kippen is a pretty hilltop village only 10 minutes from Lochend, with a couple of lovely pubs and deli, and amazing views over the Trossachs summits.
Doune is a buzzing, wee village with nice cafes, some lovely riverside walks, and a fabulous 15th century castle, which served as the location for the infamous Trojan Rabbit scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Callander (aka Gateway to the Highlands), is a handsome Victorian town on the banks of the River Teith (great fishing), with one or two galleries, a tonne of outdoor clothing shops, some fab cafes and wonderful walks.
SALMON LEAP, GARTNESS
About half an hour from Lochend – and five minutes from Glengoyne Distillery – the Pots of Gartness are a series of beautiful rockpools on the Endrick Water, and site of one of the most spectacular wildlife events in Scotland. Because it is here in October and November that salmon hurl themselves up a 10ft waterfall in order to reach spawning grounds upstream. It really is an incredible sight – with sightings guaranteed if there’s been a bit of rain around.
MORE ACTIVITIES AROUND THE TROSSACHS
EXTREME SPORTS AROUND THE TROSSACHSHigh-ropes adventure course & zip-wire, AberfoyleHidden away among the towering pines at The Lodge in Aberfoyle, Scotland’s first ever Go Ape is also its most spectacular, with two of Britain’s longest zip wires, both over 400m long and 150ft high, whizzing thrillseekers aged 10+ over a beautiful 90ft waterfall. This is…
CYCLING AROUND THE TROSSACHSThe Trossachs are criss-crossed by an endless network of cycle routes, from gentle, lochside trundles to full-on Danny MacAskill type single-track descents. Running right through the heart of the Trossachs and its lochs, National Cycle Route 7 passes through Aberfoyle and Callander, our two closest hubs, and can be picked up anywhere…
TROSSACHS DISTILLERIES There are two excellent distilleries within a half hour of Lochend, however, one of the best whisky experiences lies only a 20-minute walk from the chalets. With several local whiskies in its cosy Port Bar, and a Malt Vault with more than 35 single malts from the Highlands & Islands (everything from a £4.50…
TROSSACHS FAMILY ACTIVITIESWe have our own wee play park right here beside the lake, right in front of the log cabins. And in many ways Lochend is one giant play park, with trees to climb, a lake to paddle in, our drive to pedal around. However, if you’re here with children, there is tonnes of…
Forest Visitor Centre
THE LODGE TROSSACHS VISITOR CENTRE IN THE QUEEN ELIZABETH FOREST PARK Less than 15 minutes from Lochend, The Lodge is the Forestry Commission’s flagship Trossachs visitor centre, and a place we’ve been going to as a family for years. It’s somewhere our guests really love.Cafe, gift shop, GoApe adventure course and walks galoreThe Lodge visitor centre itself…
GOLFING AROUND THE TROSSACHSGolf was invented in Scotland, so it’s little wonder we’ve got so many great golf courses within a pitching wedge of Lochend Chalets. Being so centrally located means that St Andrew’s, Troon, Muirfield and Turnberry are all easily reached from Lochend, but here are a half-dozen or so really excellent courses closer…
PONY TREKKING IN THE TROSSACHSCastle Rednock Trekking Centre, Port of MenteithWe’re really lucky to have this excellent Trossachs horse riding stables only 5 minutes from Lochend. Catering for riders of all abilities aged 4+, this friendly riding centre offers pony-trekking, Segway-treks, orienteering and quad pods, where children as young as three can be towed around…
Shops & Galleries
TROSSACHS SHOPS & GALLERIES Home to fantastic foodie produce and a burgeoning arts scene, the Trossachs is full of great wee delis, craft shops and galleries. It would be impossible to list them all, but here are some of our favourite Trossachs shops and galleries, all within a 20-minute drive of Lochend. I’ve also listed a few…
SIGHTSEEING AROUND THE TROSSACHSThe Trossachs form the heart of Rob Roy’s old stomping ground, and the glens and bens beyond Lochend are absolutely packed with historical interest. It would take too long to list all the castles and monuments, historic villages and boat trips in the area, but we’ve picked out a few favourites for…
SCENIC DRIVES AROUND THE TROSSACHSIf the Trossachs are God’s own hiking and biking country, they’re also where He’d take a Sunday drive! Our own lake road (B8034 from Port of Menteith) is one of the most beautiful, twisting and turning along the Lake of Menteith, with roe deer often seen nibbling the banks beside the…
BEST TROSSACHS WALKSThere are so many fantastic Trosscahs walks right on our doorstep (the excellent walkhighlands.co.uk website has route descriptions and maps for more than 90 walks in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park alone) it’s almost impossible to pick out a few, but here goes:Trossachs walks for all levelsEASY The Lodge: various lengthsLess than…
DINING AROUND THE TROSSACHSThe Trossachs have made a name for themselves in foodie circles, with amazing produce – venison, lamb, Highland wagyu beef, award-winning yoghurts and cheeses – and some really fabulous cafes and restaurants. Here are some of our favourite places for a taste of the Trossachs, all within about a half-hour drive of…
HOLIDAYS AT LOCHEND CHALETS - MORE THINGS TO DO
Browse a selection of our favourite things to do when you enjoy a short break here on the Lake of Menteith. Stay on site or explore local landscapes. Explore our national park, take a trip further afield, or use your holiday lodge as a base to tour around Scotland. Whatever your interests, there will always be something to keep you entertained and make memories that will last a lifetime.