Loch Long, in the west of the National Park, forms a sea loch extending 20 miles from the Firth of Clyde at its southwestern end. Similar to a fjord, the loch forms a long indent with the coast of the Cowal Peninsula on one side and the entire western coastline of the Rosneath Peninsula on the other side.
‘Loch Long’ translates from Gaelic as Ship Lake as in 1263 Arrochar was a key target for Viking raiders who dragged their boats 2 miles overland to Tarbet to attack the unprotected inland settlements of Loch Lomond before their defeat at the battle of Largs.
At the foot of the loch on the east shore is the Rosneath village of Cove, while at the head is the village of Arrochar. The stunning high-rise Arrochar Alps offer many attractions for walkers, with the The Cobbler (Ben Arthur) and the Munros of Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime offering summit goals.
Meanwhile, the marked paths and trails of Argyll Forest Park, also close to Arrochar, are ideal for shorter walks and for mountain bikers. The atmospheric woodland and fabulous views never disappoint.
The loch is popular for watersports, such as diving among many wrecks that scatter the loch, and kayaking. The Ardentinny Outdoor Education Centre uses the loch for water-based activities, as well as land-based activities close by.
Just north of Kilmun on the A815 towards Glenbranter, are two of the National Park’s hidden gems. Puck’s Glen is a spectacular gorge walk, named after Puck from a Midsummer Night’s Dream. The deep, damp woodland gorge is dotted with enchanting waterfalls, mosses and ferns that give it a truly magical feel. With its network of way-marked trails, you can stroll through majestic oak woodlands or cycle through conifer plantations. Wildlife is abundant. Look for crossbills high in the pine trees and red squirrels may be seen if you spend time, especially early in the morning or evening.
Further north is Benmore Botanic Garden, 120 acres of gardens set in a stunning mountainside location, surrounded by beautiful scenery. Pass through an avenue of 150-year-old giant redwoods and discover a world-famous collection of plants, including over 300 species of rhododendrons.
Loch Long offers good fishing from the shore and boat with cod, whiting, plaice, mackerel, skate, wrasse and Pollack possible catches. It is free to fish but it is illegal to land any migratory fish such as salmon or sea trout.
An array of wildlife has made its home in or around Loch Long, including gannets, eider ducks, cormorants, oyster catchers, grey seals, occasional pilot whales, porpoises and dolphins and sometimes even a humpback whale.
On land, you might spot a golden eagle high above you or the more common buzzard. Ravens and peregrines are visitors to various crags, while red grouse and ptarmigan live on hillside and mountain slopes. In autumn, listen for the roars of rutting stags. Other inhabitants include red and grey squirrels and the elusive pine marten.
Whether you’re looking for the comfort of a campsite or the solitude of ‘wild camping’, the National Park offers plenty of places to immerse yourself in some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland.
If you are planning to ‘wild camp’, be aware that seasonal byelaws came into effect on 1st March 2017 which affect how you can camp in some areas between March and September. During this time, you need a permit to camp or (in some locations) to stay overnight in your motorhome in these Camping Management Zones.
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