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Due to its stunningly beautiful location, Loch Lomond is one of the more popular lochs or lakes in Western Scotland. Although not the longest lake at 24 miles (39 kilometers) in length, it is the largest expanse of fresh water in Scotland. With a surface area of 17,544 acres (71 square kilometers), the loch touches the districts of Argyll and Bute, West Dunbartonshire, and Stirling. The loch is crossed by the Highland Boundary Fault, a break in the earth's crust which occurred millions of years ago, and as a result, exhibits physical characteristics of both Highland and Lowland Scotland. The wide, shallow, southern end of the lake is home to numerous wooded islands. The narrow, deep, fjord-like northern end sits in the shadow of Ben Lomond, a very distinctive mountain in the Scottish Highlands at a height of 3,196 feet (974 meters). With its sparkling water, inviting villages and unlimited outdoor activities, there is little wonder why people travel from around the globe to visit this breathtaking lake.
Boating and fishing are the most popular water sports on Loch Lomond. Sailboats of all sizes dot the lake as well as canoes, kayaks, fishing boats and a number of personal watercraft. Cruise boats also make their way around the lake and are available for charter. Cruising is a great way to tour the 38 islands at the southern end of the lake. Some of the islands are inhabited, some contain the ruins of castles, monasteries and ancient burial grounds and one is home to an elegant hotel. Ferries can be taken from the waterfront communities of Tarbet, Balloch, Balmaha and Luss to visit the many areas around and across the lake.
Anglers will find salmon, sea trout and pike in the tranquil waters of Loch Lomond. The record salmon from the depths of the loch is 44 pounds, 8 ounces (20.18 kilograms). The record sea trout is 22 pounds, 8 ounces (10.20 kilograms), and the record for pike currently stands at 47 pounds, 11 ounces (21.63 kilograms). Boats can be rented from marinas and lodges around the lake. Pike and salmon chartered fishing trips are also a great way to enjoy the water and the spectacular scenery. A public launch facility can be found in the town of Balloch, and there is also a public launch for smaller boats and a picnic area at Milarrochy Bay on the eastern side of the lake.
In addition to recreation, a hydro-electric power plant at the northwestern end of the lake provides power to the area and is one of the largest conventional hydroelectric plants in Britain. Operated by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), a massive dam on Loch Sloy holds water which passes through a tunnel to a valve house above the power station. Pipes from the valve house feed into the powerhouse at Inveruglas Bay on Loch Lomond to create power.
The varied terrain around Loch Lomond offers great walking, hiking and cycling paths for outdoor enthusiasts of all ability levels. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, designated as Scotland's first National Park in 2002, cover approximately 460,800 acres (1865 square kilometers). Located 40 minutes from Glasgow, and 90 minutes from Edinburgh, the pristine park attracts thousands of visitors. Trossachs is the central section of the Park. The scenery in this area features tree-covered mountains, crags, glens, and many sparkling lakes. Park activities include hiking, biking, fishing, boating, camping, pony trekking, golfing, and wildlife watching. Over 200 species of birds and over 25% of Britain's wild plants have been recorded in the area. Argyll Forest Park, at the northern end of the loch, and Queen Elizabeth Forest Park to the east of the loch, offer additional mountains, glens, lochs and woodlands for exploration. Toward the northern end of the lake sits Ben Lomond, the most climbed mountain in Scotland. The town of Rowardennan is a favored starting point for the ascent of this mountain reaching 3,196 feet (974 meters). At the southern end of the lake, the farming community of Gartocharn offers an incredible panoramic view of the area from a short climb up Duncryne Hill, or "the Dumpling" as locals call it.
Accommodations and vacation rentals on Loch Lomond are plentiful in the many small villages and settlements that surround the lake. For those on holiday, hotels, bed and breakfasts and a wide variety of self-catering holiday homes can be found in Balloch, Ardlui, Balmaha, Luss, Rowardennan, and Tarbet. Further north, the tiny hamlet of Inverbeg features some of the finest art galleries in the area. The town of Drymen is a wonderful community clustered around a traditional village square. Located just east of Loch Lomond, the town offers beautiful scenery and the chance to browse local craft shops. Camping and caravan parks can be found in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and on the eastern shore near Milarrochy Bay. At the northern end of the loch, where the River Falloch flows from its Highland source into the lake, sits the tiny village of Ardlui. Narrow, deep and surrounded by mountains, this end of the loch is often preferred by those who enjoy quiet and seclusion. Ardlui is also home to a railroad station for those who would like to visit other communities and lochs in the region.
From gentle rolling hills to towering peaks, Loch Lomond is an area rich in contrasts. Whether you enjoy walking, climbing, fishing or exploring ancient history, the lake offers a multitude of outdoor activities. With its charming mountain and farmland communities, you'll soon discover why so many people return year after year to this truly unique Scottish paradise.
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