Walks for all levels in the Trossachs

There are so many fantastic walks right on our doorstep (the excellent walkhighlands 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:

Easy

The Lodge; various lengths
Less than 15 minutes from Lochend, The Lodge is the Forestry Commission’s excellent visitor centre in the spruce forests above Aberfoyle. The Lodge has a great cafe, lovely giftshop, webcams over local osprey nests, a GoApe high-ropes obstacle course, and a network of waymarked trails that could keep you happily busy for your entire week at the chalets. Easiest of the lot is a half-hour loop down to the impressive Little Fawn waterfall via a perfect Pooh Sticks bridge, interactive dam attraction and Red Squirrel hide.

Fairy Knowe/Doon Hill; 60 minutes up and down
A great walk for kids, partly because it’s short and sweet up through a lovely oak and coppiced wood above Aberfoyle, but also because it has a touch of magic at the summit, where people come from many a mile to tie clouties (rags) to the Scots Pine branches in the hope that as the cloutie rots, so their illness or misfortune vanishes too. The walk can also be done as a 90-minute loop from Aberfoyle.

Lochan Spling; 90 minutes loop
Another tot-sized stroll on Forestry tracks about two miles west of Aberfoyle. Parents love it because it’s beautiful, crossing the upper reaches of the Forth then looping back through pine forest round a glassy, haunting lochan with views north to Ben Venue. Kids love it because it’s flat and has fun osprey, pike, squirrel sculptures along the way by local artist and good mate, Rob Mulholland (his brilliant mirror men hide among the trees round the forest trail at The Lodge.

West Highland Way; 90 minutes
Not the whole 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William obviously, rather just a lovely wee bit of Britain’s premier long-distance walk along the shores of Loch Lomond from Inversnaid (reached via a wonderful 40-minute drive twixt glen and ben). Following a loop through the Inversnaid Nature Reserve, a 90-minute walk ticks off Rob Roy’s Cave and a series of beautiful waterfalls, best seen from the pier below the hotel. Pop into Stronachlachar on the way back for cake and coffee at the Pier Cafe overlooking lovely Loch Katrine.

A Bit Harder

The Menteith Hills; 90 minutes up and down
You won’t find this walk in many guide books, but for so many reasons, it’s a favourite with me. For one thing, it’s close: the trail-head at Braeval car park is less than 10 minutes from Lochend. For another, it’s super easy: you can reach the top of the hill from the car park at Braeval in only about 45 minutes. Mainly though, I love it because it gazes at us – and all our waterfront lodges – from across the lake, a beautiful, calming constant in our lives. Ma and Pa would take us up for picnics when we were kids, and the view still get me today. The Lake of Menteith, Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument, Ben Ledi, the Arrochar Alps and of course the chalets – you can see them all.

Bracklinn Falls Circuit; 90 minutes loop
Just long enough that you’ll feel you’ve earned your tea and cake in Callander, but gentle enough that even young kids will knock it off with only a tiny moan (our neighbour’s do this walk while dribbling a football, seems to do the trick), this fab loop packs in a really dramatic river gorge, rock pools, pine forests and wonderful open moorland that could be way out in the middle of the Highlands – it’s four walks rolled into one. Or five if you take the 30-minute detour to the top of Callander Crags.

Conic Hill; 2 hours up and down
Offering huge gain for very little pain, Conic Hill (1,184ft) has mighty vistas across Loch Lomond to the Arrochar Alps, but is yours for only 90 minutes of gentle up and down from Balmaha, where a fireside pint of Lomond Hop awaits at local ramblers’ favourite, Oak Tree Inn.

Ben A’an; 3 hours up and down
It’s not even 1,500ft high, but Ben A’an packs a proper Highland punch, with a pointy crag at the otherwise flat, picnic-tastic summit that kids absolute love. Epic summit views over Loch Katrine towards the Arrochar Alps, a belter of a walk with all the exhilaration of a gnarly Highland peak – but a fraction of the time and effort required.

A Proper Yomp

Ben Lomond; 5 hours up and down
It beckons across the water from every cabin, lodge and chalet at Lochend: impossible to resist. The most southerly of all 282 Munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000ft), Ben Lomond (3,248ft) is a real gentle giant. A long but very gradually ascending path climbs toward the summit from the Rowerdennan village on the shores of Loch Lomond; descending via Ptarmigan Ridge is the way to go if you want to make it a bit more challenging. Amazing views across the scattered islands of the loch trailing off toward the Arrochar Alps.

Ben Ledi; 5 hours up and down
If time is short but you really want to bag a proper Scottish summit, Ben Ledi is your boy! It’s only 20 minutes from Lochend to the car park west of Callander, then straight up on a steep but excellent path to a gloriously flat summit (one of the best spots for wildcamping in Scotland), which feels as wild and remote as anywhere in the Highlands. Once down, Venachar Lochside cafe/restaurant is the place to slake your thirst and soak your toes in the loch.

Ben Venue; 6 hours up and down
Ben Venue just gets better and better as you approach from Loch Achray, first through broadleaf forest, then along a stream, then via a really beautiful traverse along the excellent path. As for he summit: it’s wonderfully craggy, like a proper mountain should be. Then it’s down, down, down for well-earned cakes the size of your heed at the Wee Blether Tearoom.

Ben Lomond