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Loch Lomond, Scotland: A Real Natural Wonder
Loch Lomond Information and Facts
Loch Lomond is the largest inland freshwater lake in Great Britain by surface area, and the second largest by water volume after Loch Ness. In a 2005 survey lead by Radio Times, readers voted Lomond as the 6th greatest natural wonder in Britain.
Loch Lomond lies in the Highland Boundary fault, which is often regarded as the border between the lowlands of Central Scotland and the highlands. The lake is located between Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire, in the council areas of Bute, West Dunbartonshire, Stirling and Argyll. It is surrounded by rugged, glaciated mountains on the north, softer hills and islands on the south and lovely little towns such as Luss on the west. The lake’s southern shores are located merely 23 kilometers from Glasgow, the biggest city of the country. The 974 meter high Ben Lomond is located on the east, and it is the most southerly of the Scottish Munro Peaks.
More than 30 islands can be found on the lake, a number depending on the water levels. The largest freshwater island of the British Isles, Inchmurrin, can be found here. Another island, Inchconnachan, is home to a colony of wallabies.
The lake drains by the short Leven River into River Clyde Eastuary at Dumbarton. It is currently part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The park is composed of four major parts: Loch Lomond, the forests of the Trossachs, Breadbane, or the “Land of Giants” with its towering mountains, and Argyll Forest, which was the first forest park in Britain.
Flora and Fauna
The lake’s eastern shore is mainly dominated by Atlantic oakwood, and in some places one can encounter planted conifer forests which provide shelter for long-eared owls and pine marten. Lochans and small marshes are home to a wide variety of aquatic insects and amphibians. Queen Elizabeth and Argyll Forest Park are home to squirrels, badgers, hedgehogs, bats, red and roe deer. One of the most important birds that can be found in the area is the capercaillie, the world’s largest grouse species, located on the last remaining breeding grounds of pinewoods of Loch Lomond’s many islands. The most frequently-caught fish in the lake are sea trout, salmon, brown trout and coarse fish.
The lake is mentioned in a well-known Scottish song, recorded by many famous performers over the years. Its original author is unknown, but several legends circulate about the song’s creator. One legend states that the song was written by a Scottish soldier who awaited death in captivity and sent the lyrics in his final letter home. Another one proclaims that after the 1745 rebellion a soldier on his way back to Scotland during the retreat from England (1745-1746) wrote the song.
Travel and Recreation
A number of small towns and villages offer scenic views of the lake, plenty of accommodation sites as well as restaurants and pubs. Balloch is the largest of them, located on the southern shore, and can often get crowded. Crianlarich on the northern shore is a major road and rail junction, dominated mainly by the Ben More Peak, one of the most important attractions for hikers. Drymen is a good base for those interested in Conic Hill, while Tarbet is a larger village lying on the lake’s western shore.
Two major golf courses await golf enthusiasts: the Loch Lomond Golf Club on the southwestern shore and The Carrick, right next to it. Cycling is one of the most popular sports practiced in the lake area. The West Loch Lomond Cycle Path runs from the Arrochar and Tarbet Railway Station to the Balloch Railway Station. It is 28 kilometers long and one of the best ways to see the lake and its surroundings. The lake’s southern end is home to a large visitor and shopping complex. Bicycles can be rented at the local bike shop in Balloch and in other smaller communities as well.
Loch Lomond is one of the best spots in Scotland for boating and water sports. Kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing is all possible on the lake, along with the use of jetskis and speedboats. There are some speeding limitations set in more delicate places (10 km/h) by the National Park Authority, who strive on achieving balance between the land-based tourists and lake-users. In other places, the speeding limit is 90 km/h. Cruises run all year round starting from either Balloch or Tarbet. The Loch Lomond Rescue Boat ensures 24-hour safety cover over the loch.