If you're planning a family vacation in Scotland, Loch Lomond should be high on your list as an all ages, all abilities holiday.
Your active sports fans and adventure junkies won't be bored. There are challenging climbs up Ben Lomond - one of Scotland's Munros (mountains of more than 3,000feet), waterskiing, wakeboarding, even speedboating trips from Luss Pier.
But what makes Loch Lomond such an ideal choice for families is that everyone - from the youngest to the older members of your group - can enjoy outdoor fun, around the largest freshwater body in the UK, together.
Loch Lomond Family Adventures for Softies
Walking and Hiking - This has long been a popular area for walkers and the area is crisscrossed with local and national trails - some of them paved. Scotland's great national path, the 96-mile West Highland Way, hugs the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, between the road and the loch. It can be a bit twisty but it's relatively level. And to make walking even easier, you can be dropped by water taxi to enjoy short stretches of the walk. Queen Elizabeth Forest Park has family-friendly wooded paths along Loch Lomond and nearby Loch Katrine. And several short paths in the conservation village of Luss are suitable for wheelchair users and baby buggies.
Cycle Trails - Several long-distance national trails cross the park and are particularly gentle in this area - so suitable for families of mixed abilities. The same is true of the National Cycle Route 7 (NCR 7) that cuts through the east side of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park from Balloch, at the bottom of Loch Lomond, to Killin, near salmon-rich Loch Tay. A good part of this trail by the loch is purpose-built, paved and relatively flat - suitable for all abilities and all kinds of bicycles. Information about trails and cycle paths can be picked up from park visitor information centers or stop off at the National Park Gateway Centre at Loch Lomond Shores in Balloch to pick up books and maps.
Getting Out on the Water - Canoes, kayaks, pedalos, motorboats, and speedboat rentals are all available during the summer from several marinas and boatyards on the loch. But if you are more comfortable letting someone else take charge of your boat, several companies operate cruises, ferries, and excursion boats, between March and October, from several departure points on the Loch.
And if you like boats better when they are in dry dock, you could visit the Maid of the Loch, the last and the largest of the Loch Lomond paddle steamers. She's restored, tied up at the Balloch Steamer Slipway and can be visited weekends for free.
Fishing - Fishing, with a permit, is available year-round on Loch Lomond, though there are some restrictions on salmon fishing in terms of season and the kinds of salmon you can take. Weekly permits for Loch Lomond are available from the Luss General Store, the Luss Village Shop, the Balloch Tourist Information Office on Balloch Road, the Boatyard in Balmaha, The Ardlui Hotel, and several other locations around the loch. Ask about seasonal regulations when you buy your permit.
- Rainy Day Activities - There are plenty of places to stock up on Scottish products and souvenirs in the villages and towns around Loch Lomond. But if you are really keen to shop or get indoors, Glasgow, with its boutiques, fashionable stores and terrific museums, The Kelvingrove and the Riverside, is only about 27 miles away. The Riverside, in particular, is a real child pleaser.