In November 2018, we enjoyed a wonderful lodge break in Argyll at Loch Lomond Holiday Park. We were delighted when Argyll Holidays invited us back to check out one of the park’s refurbished lodges. Who could resist an autumn break by yon bonnie banks? You’re singing the song now, aren’t you?
It rained incessantly during our 2018 stay at Loch Lomond Holiday Park and we ended up chasing drier weather in the far flung corners of Argyll. This time we agreed, we’d explore locally, taking whatever the weather gods threw at us.
Day 1 – things to do – Argyll and Loch Lomond
We always find fun things to do in Argyll and despite frequent visits, it’s somewhere we’ll never tire of.
Whale watching at Gare Loch
After watching the Scottish news the day before our trip, we decided Gare Loch would be our first stop of the weekend.
The sea loch isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, as it’s home to a nuclear submarine base. Naval presence aside, there’s a nice village at the head of the loch (Garelochhead) and the scenery surrounding it is lovely.
The reason for our visit, was to see if we could spot anything lurking in the water (besides submarines). A pod of northern bottlenose whales had taken up residence in the loch.
It was dreich when we arrived in Garelochhead. We chose a spot by the shore, near the village and waited. There were a handful of people around – all staring intently at the water for signs of movement. The loch was as still as a millpond, so we had a good chance of spotting whales if they were out there.
After a short wait, we saw a jet of water shooting into the air, before two whales surfaced.
It was our third whale sighting in Scotland in little over a year, but it was every bit as exciting as the first.
We ended up watching the remarkable beasties for a couple of hours, before reluctantly tearing ourselves away to have some lunch.
Lunch – The Perch Cafe, Garelochhead
The Perch Cafe in Garelochhead is dog friendly, so decided to have lunch there.
The food was delicious. I had sautéed mushrooms, smashed avocado, halloumi, poached egg and lemon aioli on toasted sourdough. Mr G opted for Stornoway black pudding, bacon, slow roast tomatoes and egg on sourdough.
After lunch, it was time to head to Loch Lomond.
The sun had made an appearance, so it looked like we were in for a braw afternoon.
A boat trip on Loch Lomond
We had tickets for a one hour ‘northern highlights cruise’ with Cruise Loch Lomond. They run a number of tours on Loch Lomond, from various departure points.
Ours left from Tarbet (close to where we’d be staying) on the west shore of the loch.
With blue skies overhead, we’d picked a belter of a day for a boat trip. As we were waiting to board, the boy spotted a bonnie redhead in the queue. He introduced himself and soon they were smooching and sharing doggie treats.
Once aboard, we found a seat on the open deck (close to the bonnie redhead) and settled down to enjoy the rugged scenery of the fjord like northern shores of Loch Lomond. As we sailed round the loch, our captain drew our attention to points of interest along the way and shared stories linked to them.
My favourite story was about a tiny island called Tarbet Isle, which is also known as Honeymoon Island. Apparently, when members of the travelling community got married, the bride and groom would spend a week on the island together. If they were still speaking after seven days, it meant their union was made to last.
Our time with Cruise Loch Lomond flew by, or should that be sailed by? Before we knew it, we’d arrived back at Tarbet pier. The cruise had been a great way to get a different perspective of the loch and learn interesting snippets about it too.
Walk – Succoth Hill, Arrochar
After wildlife watching and cruising, it was time to stretch our legs before check in time at Loch Lomond Holiday Park.
We headed to Arrochar to walk the Succoth Circuit. The short walk started at the shore of Loch Long on the outskirts of Arrochar. A narrow path led us up a wooded hillside. After a short climb, the incline levelled off and we were treated to a beautiful view of Loch Long and Arrochar below.
Turning left, we followed the path past a pretty waterfall, then downhill to join a small road which led us back to our starting point.
For a short walk, it rewarded us with big views. It also got the heart rate up a wee bit. Just enough to convince ourselves we’d earned takeaway fish and chips for dinner.
And, as luck would have it, there’s a great fish & chip shop in Arrochar.
Our lodge break at Loch Lomond Holiday Park
After eating our suppers by the shore of Loch Long, it was time to check in at Loch Lomond Holiday Park.
The park sits on the north west shore of Loch Lomond. Accommodation consists of lodges (some sleeping up to eight and many with hot tubs), a cute pod for couples and touring pitches for campers. There’s an on site shop, pool room and children’s play area too.
For me, it’s perfectly located for a peaceful lodge break in Argyll. it feels remote but not cut off, as there’s plenty to see and do on the doorstep.
Our accommodation – Lomond Retreat Platinum Lodge
The last time we stayed at Loch Lomond Holiday Park our lodge was amazing. Would we love this lodge as much? Wow, wow and thrice wow – our Lomond Retreat Platinum Lodge was stunning.
Outside, we had a large deck with a loch view, patio furniture and a hot tub. I love a hot tub, especially in the autumn and winter months when it’s dark at night (great for stargazing) and there’s a nip in the air.
Patio doors opened onto the deck from the bedrooms (there were two) and lounge.
Inside, was a spacious lounge/dining area. The interior design was contemporary, with neutral colour palate. Sumptuous fabrics added a luxurious finish. The focal point of the room was a massive sofa, just crying out to be lounged on.
Just off the lounge, was a stylish kitchen, with all mod cons – and most importantly a coffee machine.
The tasteful styling continued into the two double bedrooms, which were located at either end of the lodge.
Both had en suite facilities. One had a shower and the other a shower and bath. We chose the latter bedroom, as it also had a big ‘sex and the city’ style walk in wardrobe that led into the en suite.
This was the ultimate chill out pad.
Time to chill
That night, we spent a couple of hours in the hot tub, drinking fizz and chatting about about our favourite topic – Scottish travel.
The boy kept a watchful eye on us, from inside.
Later, we donned our PJs and spent the rest of the night reclining on the sofa like sultans – sipping fizz and listening to music. The boy snoozed happily by the fire.
Our restful evening, was followed by a good night’s sleep. Argyll Holidays have insanely, comfy beds and they always smell divine.
Day 2 – Things to do, Argyll and Loch Lomond
The forecast for the second day of our Loch Lomond break was rain – lots of rain. Avoiding it would be impossible, so we’d need to find things to do in Argyll that would provide us with some cover.
Walk – Tarbet Isle
We started with a woodland walk not far from Loch Lomond Holiday Park. The Tarbet Isle Trail, meanders through woodland and offers some enticing glimpses of Loch Lomond and Tarbet Isle.
The boy loves a woodland trail as he always picks up lots of interesting scents on them. We’re quite partial to them too, especially when it’s raining. Thanks to the shelter provided by the trees, we managed to avoid the worst of the rain on our loop round the Tarbet Isle Trail. Despite the rain, it was a lovely walk in a lush, green setting.
Pulpit Rock, Ardlui
Our next stop, was at an interesting historic site a stone’s throw from the trail.
Pulpit Rock or Clach nan Tarth (the stone of the bulls) is hidden in plain sight next to the A82.
In 1825 shepherds living around the northern reaches of Loch Lomond, complained to their minister (Reverend Peter Proudfoot) about the eight-mile walk they had to make to and from church every Sunday.
Reverend Proudfoot Made a deal with them. If they built him a vestry and pulpit, he’d travel to them to preach. Money was raised for the project and explosives were used to blast a hollow in a wall of rock, large enough to hold the minister, an elder and the church presentor. A door was fitted to the hollow and a wooden platform with a pulpit was built in front of it. Behind Pulpit Rock a stall sold bread, cheese and whisky. Probably a blessing, because Reverend Proudfoot had a tendency to give extremely looooooooong sermons.
The makeshift church remained in use every summer until the turn of the 20th century.
Despite Scotland’s often unpredictable weather, open air churches aren’t as rare as you might think.
We Scots are made of stern stuff.
Visit the Falls of Falloch
After leaving Pulpit Rock, we continued along the A82 towards the Falls of Falloch. We’ve visited the falls many times, but can never resist returning, as they’re beautiful.
It’s a good spot to visit on a rainy day as the falls are surrounded by trees, which offer some shelter. The falls are at their best when it’s raining, as that’s when you’ll find them in full flow.
They’re especially pretty during the autumn months, when the trees surrounding them take on warm, autumnal hues.
We’d spent a fun morning outside in the rain and had managed to stay fairly dry.
Now, it was time to coorie indoors for a while. Somewhere cosy, where we could have lunch.
Lunch – The Drovers Inn
That somewhere cosy was The Drovers Inn at Ardlui. It’s dog friendly, people friendly and serves good pub grub.
The inn is reputed to be one of the most haunted places in Scotland. Otherworldly residents include spooky wee girls and cattle drovers. They don’t put people off visiting though – quite the opposite.
We were offered a choice of tables. Outside in a heated marquee, or in the bar area. We chose the table in the bar. There no point visiting The Drovers Inn, if you’re not going to embrace the creepy interior design.
We were okay with the possibility, that we might have to share our table with a ghost. The bar was cosy, the menu good and the staff friendly. Plus, we had Casper the fearless by our side. He’d protect us from things that go bump in the night.
We enjoyed our lunch without incident – not even a mournful wooooooo.
Back to our chill our luxurious pad
Keen to make the most of our beautiful lodge, we headed back to it after lunch. Our travels often have us on the go all day long, so it’s nice to apply the brakes once in a while.
Our second night at Loch Lomond Holiday Park was spent in the same way as our first. Hot tub, fizz, PJs and sofa. Ahhhh, what bliss.
Day 3 – Things to do, Argyll and Loch Lomond
The next morning, after a fine breakfast of bacon butties, coffee and OJ, we said goodbye to our fab lodge.
Another wonderful lodge break in Argyll had drawn to a close, but we wouldn’t be heading home quite yet.
Walk – Honeymoon Bridge
Every time we drive through Glen Croe, we see a Forestry & Land Scotland sign for a picnic spot called Honeymoon Bridge. For as long as we’ve known each other, we been saying we’ll stop – we never do.
This time we did.
Parking the car, we followed a track that ran parallel to the road. It was flooded in parts, but we weren’t going to let wet feet stop us from unravelling the mystery of Honeymoon Bridge.
The path skirted the side of the River Croe, then stopped where a stone bridge carried the road across the river.
It was a dramatic spot, surrounded by trees and misty mountains.
But why was it known as Honeymoon Bridge?
On a cold day in January 1950, a local boy discovered the body of a woman near the mouth of the River Croe. It was that of 23 year-old Hannah Donaldson, who’d been missing since Christmas Day, along with her husband Andrew. Leaving the house they shared with Hannah’s parents, the couple had headed off for a drive in a car they’d hired for a second honeymoon.
The river was searched and the next day, the car was found. Andrew Donaldson wasn’t inside. He was later discovered a mile and a half away.
It was established that bad weather had caused the car to veer off the road by the bridge, killing the Donaldsons.
Now, when we pass Honeymoon Bridge, we’ll think of the ill-fated couple who gave it its name.
Walk – Ardgartan Lochside Trail
Our second walk was a cheerier one. On the other side of the A83 at Ardgarten are a couple of walking trails – The River Trail and Lochside Trail. We walked the 2 1/4 miles lochside trail, as it hinted at wildlife spotting opportunities.
It took us along a single track road, before leaving the road and heading to the shore of Loch Long. There, we spotted an otter in the loch. We held our breaths as we stood and watched it hunting for fish.
After otter spotting, we followed the trail into woodland. It was a riot of autumnal colours.
The River Croe snaked through the trees, adding a lovely soundtrack to our walk.
The trail ended beside a carved statue of an otter. It was a fitting way to end another wonderful break in Argyll.
We stayed at Loch Lomond Holiday Park on a complimentary basis, however all opinions are my own.
Until next time …