These eight, family-friendly campsites are ideal places to introduce children to the outdoor life. Loch Lomond is made for family camping. It's the gentler side of Scottish outdoor experiences yet there are plenty of challenges for everyone. Besides, you can all sing The Bonnie Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond with them to pass the time in the camper van on the way.
In any season, some of Britain's national parks in Scotland and the North can seem forbidding and "arctic" to leisure campers and younger children. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is, in contrast, a kind of wilderness-lite.
Overlooked from the eastern side by Ben Lomond (3,200 feet) and hugged on both sides by national forests - Argyll Forest Park on the west side, Queen Elizabeth National Forest on the East, Loch Lomond is the biggest body of freshwater in the UK. It's dark, deep blue waters are surrounded dense woodlands and dotted with small islands.
It is easy to imagine, as you and your family, cycle, hike, mountain bike, fish, canoe and go camera stalking for wildlife, that you are a million miles from civilization. But really, Loch Lomond is less than hour from Glasgow. So finding something to do in rainy weather - often an issue when children are involved - is as easy as hopping into the car for a trip down the road to Glasgow's child-pleasing free museums.
Family-Friendly Campsites on Loch Lomond
These eight campsites offer a range of camping options for beginners and experienced campers alike. Tent, caravan and camping car pitches; rustic chalets and wigwams (also known as camping pods) are all available.
- Inchcailloch Island - This small tent campsite for up to 12 people is part of the Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve and run by the National Park. It's on the southern tip of an island in the loch that's easily reached with a short, on-demand ferry trip. Individual groups are limited to six people, including children. The island has no running water, so you need to bring your own water supplies. There are composting toilets. The ferry runs from the Balmaha boat yard, near the parking area. Bookings are taken from March. Email email@example.com or phone +44 (0)1389 722600
- Strathfillan Wigwam Village - These wigwams are camping pods - like rustic, one-room wooden shelters - with foam mattresses and electricity for light and heating. They're located on a working farm. The wigwams have fire pits but only wood purchased at the site's shop can be used. Bring your own kit, though linens can be hired. There's a woodland walk to a waterfall and easy access to nearby villages of Crianlarich and Tyndrum by public transportation (though be warned, if camping bores your kids, they won't find much to do in these tiny mountain villages. Lodges, with slightly more elaborate facilities and equipped kitchens are also available. The farm shop specializes in unusual meats for the barbecue. Don't be surprised to find crocodile, kangeroo and shark steaks alongside local venison, wild boar, beef and pork. Book online or ring +44(0)1838 400251, +44(0)1838 400298 or +44(0)7817483126 for more information.
- Beinglas Farm Camping Cabins - This is a Scottish 3-star farm camping site. It offers sturdy wooden cabins that sleep four, equipped with mattresses, heating and lighting, as well as bed and breakfast chalets, with breakfast offered in the site's bar and lounge. Ardlui Church, not far from the main camping area, is a 200-year-old converted stone church, with many original features, now available as a self-catering vacation rental . The campsite is below Ben Glas and the Grey Mares Tail Waterfall, with good views of both from throughout the campsite. A tent field, near all the main site facilities, can accommodate 100 tents with no advance booking required. Book by email or telephone +44 (0)1301 704 281
- Milarrochy Bay - This is great campsite if you like the idea of sleeping under canvas but don't want to pitch your own tent or freeze in chilly weather. The site features "Ready Camps", ready to move into two bedroom accommodations wrapped in canvas with real beds, equipped kitchen facilities and even heaters. This "glamping" site on the shores of Loch Lomond is a Camping and Caravanning Club site, but non-members are welcome. The "safari"-style tents are equipped with everything you'd need - pots and pans, a two burner cook-top, microwave, even a wardrobe with hangers. The site also has 150 pitches for tents, caravans and camping cars. Open late March to late October, get in touch by phone to +44 (0)1360 870236
- Ardlui Holiday Park - The self-contained village of caravans and lodges is located on the northern shores of the loch, near the Ardui Marina. It's in a quiet part of the loch known for water sports. Several walkers' bothys - also known as wigwams and "armadillo-style" camping pods are available. If you worry that the great Scottish outdoors night be too much for some family members, you needn't - the camping pods have underfloor heading. There's also a homey, 3-star hotel on the site. Contact through the Ardlui Hotel, telephone +44 (0)1301 704 243 or by email
- Luss Campsite - Another Camping and Caravanning Club site on the shores of the Loch near the conservation village of Luss. There are 90 pitches but, because of licensing, caravan and motorhome owners must join the club 24 hours before their stay. Non-members are welcome to tent camp.
- Sallochy Bay The Forestry Commission operates this informal, tent campsite on the shores of the loch .There are 30 pitches and this campsite is intended for people who want a slightly more "wild camping" experience. But there is a toilet block and a sink for drinking water and washing up. Fires are only allowed in special mobile "fire pits" that can be rented from the warden. This campsite is especially popular with people who enjoy what the Brits call "wild swimming" and the rest of us just call going to the beach. The loch shore has a pebbly beach at this site. Book through Sallochy Bay Woodland Camping. The site is open for camping from late Easter through October.
- Cashel Campsite in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park 168 pitches for tents, touring caravans and motorhomes on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond, near some of the trails for exploring Ben Lomond. Boat launching facilities and nearby boat hire are available and there is a children's playground for younger campers. This is a dog-friendly site and there are some good quiet spots for fishing. But bring lots of insect repellent and be prepared for midges. Book through the Camping in the Forest website.