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Natural beauty: there’s more to Loch Lomond & Helensburgh than Bonnie Banks!

Natural beauty: there’s more to Loch Lomond & Helensburgh than Bonnie Banks!
Beautiful Loch Lomond marks the first rise of the Highlands and is the embodiment of scenic Scottish splendour. Its ‘bonnie, bonnie banks’ are world renowned, yet there’s so much more to enjoy in the area, from some of the best hill walking in Argyll to gardens bursting with colour. By all means picnic on the bonnie banks, but nature lovers should make sure they try some of these things too.

Visit the glorious gardens of Linn, Geilston and Glenarn. These exquisite gardens are clustered near the lovely town of Helensburgh. Glenarn in Rhu is famous for its collection of species rhododendrons. This tranquil garden lies in a protected hollow with a steeply sloping glen running its length. Linn Botanic Garden, situated at the head of Cove Bay on the west side of Rosneath Peninsula, is another horticultural treasure trove. Follow the way-marked one-kilometre walk through the garden. Geilston is equally enchanting. It's typical of the small country estates on the banks of the Clyde owned by 18th- and 19th-century merchants and industrialists. Enjoy the peace and tranquility and marvel at the colourful summer flowers.

Hit nature’s heights on The Cobbler and the Arrochar Alps. The Arrochar Alps is by far the most spectacular mountain range in the southern Highlands. And the jagged ridge of Ben Arthur, better known as ‘The Cobbler’, is perhaps the most iconic and enticing of the peaks. It’s popular with hill walkers and climber alike. At 884 metres (2,900ft) in height it's only a Corbett, but it still has an impressive summit and the views from the top are stunning. This magnificent hill sits at the head of Loch Long near Arrochar. There are several good pubs and hotels in Arrochar for post-walk refreshments.

Go trail blazing. The Loch Lomond area is renowned for hiking and biking, and there are fantastic trails and cycle paths for all levels of ability. There’s no better way to enjoy the natural sights! Firkin Point is perfect for a short stroll along the west bank of Loch Lomond. Its level surfaced path is ideal for wheelchair users and families with prams. For something a bit longer, try the West Loch Lomond Cycle Route, which starts at Balloch at the south of Loch Lomond and runs north along the loch for 27km to Tarbet. For a multi-day trek, you can’t beat the the Three Lochs Way. This fascinating journey linking the Clyde Sea Lochs takes in Loch Lomond, The Gareloch and Loch Long. Finally, The John Muir Way is a fabulous long-distance route running through central Scotland. The final 9-mile stretch from Helensburgh to Balloch is a stunner. One of the highlights is Gouk Hill Muir Viewpoint. From here you have the most wonderful views over Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond in one direction and Balloch Park and the Campsie Fells in the other.

Take a different view. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is home to four Scottish Scenic Routes installations. These fantastic works of art were designed to provide new vantage points in the park’s most scenic spots. ‘An Ceann Mòr’ occupies a secluded spot at Inveruglas on the west bank of Loch Lomond. The pyramid structure offers elevated views of a stunning vista of the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond. ‘Woven Sound’ at the Falls of Falloch cantilevers over the edge of the water and is an incredible way to experience the thundering Falls.

Get close to nature at the Loch Lomond Sealife Aquarium. Discover a magical underwater world filled with amazing creatures, including Scotland’s largest shark collection and first shark nursery. You can also meet the only giant sea turtle in Scotland. Kids will love the otters and the hands-on rock pool experience. Perfect for a rainy day!

Find out more about things to do and see in Loch Lomond & Helensburgh.

Header photo courtesy of John Urquhart, Loch Lomond Guides.
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