This valley that connects the two lochs is fairly low lying and was long used as a portage route for boats. In 1263, Viking raiders following the Norwegian King Haco pulled their boats out at Arrochar and across the isthmus to Loch Lomond, from where they sailed south to plunder the settlements around Loch Lomond. After burning and raiding the islands of Loch Lomond they sailed south down the River Leven to the Clyde.
The pier at Tarbet provides a perfect boarding point to loch cruises and waterbus services, the former having been plying Loch Lomond since Victorian times. Cruises take visitors north to explore the quieter stretches of the loch and south to explore the lochs’ islands. Waterbus services link Tarbet to Inversnaid and Rowardennan on the eastern shores, providing access to climbing Ben Lomond, walking sections of the West Highland Way, visiting RSPB Inversnaid and more.
The village is also served by the West Highland Line, (the Arrochar & Tarbet station) linking Glasgow and Mallaig, which is consistently voted one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. From the railway station it’s about a 10 minute walk to the loch.
Walkers coming to Tarbet can link up with Cowal Way and Three Lochs Way and walk north up to Inveruglas and connect back by an afternoon waterbus service via Inversnaid. Cyclists can pedal south along the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path from Tarbet to Luss and back on a traffic-free path.
The name of the village comes from the Gaelic for ‘isthmus’, which is a small strip of land separating two larger pieces.