Car-free Guide to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Our guide to travelling to and around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs without a car.
Within easy reach of Glasgow (which has excellent transport links from the rest of the UK), Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park has good rail, bus, and boat services and plenty of provision for cycling.
A. Getting to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs without a car:
By Train: From England, Wales and southern Scotland, the first part of the journey can be made by a huge number of mainline rail services to Glasgow or Edinburgh. Glasgow is located closer to the National Park, however services from both cities (and central/northern Scotland) run to Balloch, on Loch Lomond; Stirling, for bus connections to the Trossachs; and via the West Highland Line to Arrochar and Tarbet, Ardlui, Crianlarich and Tyndrum (also runs from Mallaig and Fort William to the north). For the Cowal area of the National Park, you can take a train from Glasgow to Gourock, then a ferry to Dunoon for onward bus connections. For more information, tickets and timetables for train services, have a look at Scotrail (for travel within Scotland), Virgin Trains and East Coast (for mainline services from England, Wales, and southern Scotland).
By Coach or Bus: CityLink is the premier long distance bus operator in Scotland, and links many destinations across the country to destinations in and around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Key routes include Glasgow – Callander (on the western side of the Loch) and the Dundee – Oban route, which passes through St Fillans, Killin, and Crianlarich. Additionally, there are National Express services from across mainland Britain to Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as services to Stirling, Callander and Balloch, and Megabus services to the principal Scottish cities.
Getting around without a car:
By Train: Railway services are more adapted for getting to, rather than around, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, however if you do find yourself travelling between Balloch, Helensburgh, and Dumbarton; or Arrochar, Crianlarich, and Tyndrum, you could choose to take the train: for more information, see Scotrail.
By Bus: There is a network of buses across the National Park, to plan your journey head to the Traveline Scotland website, and be sure to check timetables are current – especially if you’re heading to a more remote location. Many buses on the eastern side of the Park are run by TacTranConnect; whilst McGills runs services 206 from Balloch to Dumbarton and 309 from Alexandria to Balmaha; Citylink’s service 976 runs up the western side of Loch Lomond; and First operates services in the eastern part of the National Park, including the 59 from Callander to Stirling, and the C13 from Balfron to Balloch.
The Ring of Breadalbane Explorer offers a hop-on, hop-off service, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, until the 20th of October, allowing you to explore the beautiful scenery of the Breadalbane area, between Killin, Crieff, Aberfeldy and Comrie (for transport connections).
By Boat: Perhaps one of the most appealing ways to travel around the National Park, and across the very waters of Loch Lomond itself, is by boat. Conveniently linking in with the rail network at Balloch, Loch Lomond Water Bus connects numerous points around the loch, including Balloch, Luss, Balmaha, and Tarbet; plus Loch Katrine (on the Walter Scott steamship) – have a look at their full route and timetable listings.
You could also travel across Loch Lomond with Sweeney’s Cruises and Cruise Loch Lomond, whose routes link the principal centres of Balloch, Balmaha, Luss, and the West Highland Way: they also offer circular cruises.
For walkers heading to the West Highland Way, specific information and links to timetables for transport to the route are available on the West Highland Way website.
Whether you want to cycle on well-maintained roads that skirt the coasts of the Park’s great lochs or really challenge yourself on dramatic off-road mountain terrain, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is great for cyclists, and offers some of the UK’s finest views. Be sure to check the difficulty level of your intended route, and the weather forecast, before heading out to avoid getting into trouble.
If you want to bring your two-wheeled friend along, all mainline train services (and many local ones) have spaces for bikes, but to avoid problems or disappointment, it is always best to reserve your spot in advance. To do this, you can either call the train operator, or head to your local railway station’s ticket office. It is also possible to take bikes on the Loch Lomond Water Bus - none of the operators have a limit on how many bikes can be brought, but if you are a large group it is advisable to call up in advance, particularly on weekends and public holidays. Only the Ring of Breadalbane Explorer and long distance buses are equipped to carry bicycles, and conditions apply, so it is always best to call up (Citylink or West Coast Motors) before setting out.
Bike hire is available at many points across the National Park, including the docking ports of the Loch Lomond water bus (for details see the Water bus leaflet). Welcome to Scotland recommends a couple of bike hire and cycle providers in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, too. Some of the main cycle hire centres in the National Park are: Wheels Cycle Hire, Callander Loch Katrine Cycle Hire (run by Wheels of Callander) Go Country, Aberfoyle Killin Outdoor Centre and Mountain Shop Mounter Bikes, Callander Cruise Loch Lomond, Tarbet
A classic, and not too challenging, route is to trace the seventeen miles between Balloch and Tarbet along the western coast of Loch Lomond (download the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path leaflet here); and National Cycle Route 76 offers a great way into the eastern part of the National Park near Stirling and Alloa.
For more cycle information and inspiration around Loch Lomond, the Trossachs and beyond, head to the Sustrans website; and for more cycling information see the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park cycling page, including some route ideas. Trossachs.co.uk also has a selection of cycle routes to and around the National Park.
If you want to get hold of more maps, guides, leaflets, and information, head to one of the National Park’s useful visitor centres – where you can also stock up on expert advice from friendly locals. The main National Park Visitor Centre is located in Balmaha, and you can access a list of all the visitor and tourist information centres around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs here.
To plan a trip to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, see: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs