Having only made it to the city of Edinburgh last year, when Mark’s friend Jed offered to host us up in Glasgow, I jumped at the opportunity. I was really keen on seeing more of Scotland, so this was an ideal way to see more of England’s northerly neighbor.
Never one to arrive unprepared, I did my research on what we might be interested in doing in Glasgow and the surrounding area. Since I had missed out on seeing Scotland’s countryside in my first visit, I was hoping to get out of the city and explore. So, with the boy’s approvals, we headed forty five minutes north into Loch Lomond National Park.
Loch Lomond National Park was established in 2002 and is a popular holiday destination in Scotland. Loch is the Scottish Gaelic word for a freshwater lake, and Loch Lomond is a one of the most well known lochs as it is the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain. The national park is not just limited to Loch Lomond though; it also has several ranges of hills and munros, which are mountains in Scotland.
We started our time in the national park off by driving to the Ben Lomond Car Park, where we parked the car and walked along Loch Lomond. The munros hugging on either side of the loch reminded me a lot of the fjords of Norway, which would make sense since parts of Scotland were once joined to Norway through the Caledonide chain of mountains.
The only downside to our visit was that the weather was horribly overcast all day, making photography a bit of a challenge. Alas, I tried my best to capture the natural beauty that was openly available to the naked eye.
The Wallace Monument stands proudly atop the summit of Abbey Craig, a hilltop tower in Stirling, a town within Loch Lomond National Park. The monument commemorates Sir William Wallace, a 13th century leader who helped the Scottish fight for their independence against England. Wallace’s most famous battle was the 1297 Battle at Stirling Ridge, in which his surprising defeat against the well equipped English army led to his fame. In popular culture, Wallace is known as being portrayed by Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart.
After paying for entry (£10 adults/£8 concessions/£6.25 children) at the Visitor Reception Center at the bottom of the hill, it’s a short bus ride or hike up to the monument. The hike up the hill is about 15 minutes at a relaxed pace.
Once we arrived at the base of the monument, we then made our way inside, taking the stairs to each of the landings on the way to the top. On each of the landings, there is information about the life and legacy of the namesake of the monument, Wallace, as well as other notable Scotsmen.
All the climbing was worthwhile when we reached the top viewing platform of the monument. Overlooking the Trossach hills on one side, and the River Forth on the other, there were stunning views in all directions.
Of course, a visit to Scotland would not be complete without making our way to a Scotch whiskey distillery, and so we found ourselves at Deanston Distillery, a distillery just outside Loch Lomond National Park.
The distillery started its life in 1785 as a cotton mill which it remained for 180 years until it was turned into the Deanston Distillery in 1966. The supply of pure water from the River Teith, which runs in front of the property, contributed to the decision to turn the former cotton mill into a distillery. Deanston is the only distiller in Scotland to be fully self-sufficient in electricity by being powered by an onsite hydro energy facility.
We opted to do the Deanston Classic Tour (£12 per adult) which runs for 50 minutes and includes a guided tour of the facility and two drams of whiskey. While I’m not a whisky die hard, I greatly enjoyed the tour and the wafting smell – sort of like a sweet bread baking – that the distilling process creates through the facility (they have candles with the scent in the gift shop!).
Have you been to Loch Lomond National Park? What would you most like to see there if you go?