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GOOD DRIVES

The Trossachs, Campsie and Ochil Hills

Drive to Stirling along the A811 parallel to the Highland Boundary Fault on your left.  This fault line marks the division between the lowlands and the highlands.  The pronounced range of hills to the north is known as the Trossachs, Ben Ledi being the one of the highest in this range visible from the road before you reach Stirling.  After Stirling another range known as the Ochil Hills starts at the Wallace Monument and runs east.  On the right hand (south) side along this route is the range known as the Campsie Fells.

The Three Lochs Drive 

(A half day out)
This 7 mile long forest drive takes you past three picturesque lochs - Lochan Reoidht, Loch Drunkie and the southern shore of Loch Achray.  More can be found our about this route at the Three Lochs Drive website:  forestryandland.gov.scot/visit/forest-parks/queen-elizabeth-forest-park/three-lochs-forest-drive

To Aberfoyle, Inversnaid and StronachlacheR

(A good afternoon out)
Aberfoyle is about 15 minutes' drive from Appletree Cottage via the A811 towards Stirling then the A81.  
A pretty village, with a good ice cream shop, cake shop, butcher, co-op and Scottish Knitwear Centre.
From Aberfoyle follow the B829, which is really an extension of the main street in the village.  This very pretty road, single track in parts, follows the shore of Loch Ard. Loch Chon then Loch Arklet.  At the end of Loch Arklet, the road descents to the Inversnaid Hotel, on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, with fantastic views across the loch and a spectacular waterfall, which is adjacent to the hotel.
On the return journey take the short road down to Stronachlacher, where an excellent tea room awaits you in the quaint excellent Pier Cafe on the shore of Loch Katrine.  https://thepiercafe.uk

To Aberfoyle, Loch Katrine, Callander and Lake of Menteith

Aberfoyle is about 15 minutes' drive from Appletree Cottage.  
Right at the start of the River Forth, this pretty village has a good ice cream shop, butcher, co-op and Scottish Knitwear Centre outlet.
At the end of the main street through the village, turn right at the Co-op and go up the hill (A821), which becomes The Duke’s Pass. As you near the summit of this steep winding road, the David Marshall Nature Centre is on the right as well as Go Ape and its famous treetop experience with zip wires etc. for the more energetic in the party! Great views can be had from here.

David Marshall Centre: https://www.goaberfoyle.co.uk/attractions/david-marshall-lodge/

Go Ape Aberfoyle: https://goape.co.uk/locations/aberfoyle
From David Marshall Centre, continue along the A821 and down to Loch Achray.  Turn left at the T junction towards Loch Katrine Pier. Boats form the pier sail up Loch Katrine from Loch Katrine Pier, some stopping at the excellent cafe at Stronachlacher.    https://thepiercafe.uk
From Loch Katrine Pier head back to Loch Achray and continue straight along the shore road, then along the shore of Loch Venachar. The Byre Inn at Brig O’Turk is a nice old pub with good food.  http://www.byreinn.co.uk
Also along this road is Venachar Lochside Restaurant which as the name suggests is right on the shore of the loch.  It does excellent food and has fantastic views across the water.  Best to pre-book this one as it is very popular: www.venachar-lochside.com
Continuing along the A821 takes you to Callander – a little bustling victorian village and the location of the original Doctor Finlay’s Casebook tv series.
From Callander follow the A81 south to Port of Menteith.  At Port of Menteith turning left will take you down to the Port of Menteith Hotel which is great for a quick drink of a cup of tea - and a meal if its that time.  https://karmagroup.com/find-destination/karma-resorts/karma-lake-of-menteith/
A boat will take you from Port of Menteith to Inchmahome Priory in the centre of the lake.  A visit to the priory is a good day out in itself.  
From Port of Menteith follow the B8034 to Arnprior where you turn right to follow the A811 back towards Appletree Cottage.

Round trip to Dunoon via Gourock and Tarbet.  

Good to allow a day for this for stop-offs, photos and exploring.

From Appletree Cottage take the A811 to Balloch then follow the A82 to the Erskine Bridge.  Cross the Erskine bridge and follow the M8 then A8 to Gourock.
From Gourock, take the car ferry (every 15mins) to Dunoon.  It is best to buy your ticket in the news agents, near the ferry terminal as much cheaper than on the boat!)
 

A quick diversion to Loch Striven…

From Dunoon, head south along the A815 towards Toward (always wanted to do that)  From Toward follow the B road north up the shore of Loch Striven.  This very quiet and remote loch is a great place for bird watching.  So remote that some of the secret experiments for the famous wartime Bouncing Bomb took place here.  The road is a dead end so you have to turn round and head back to Dunoon.
 

continuing from Dunoon
From Dunoon, head north along the A815 along the shore of Holy Loch, then the long Loch Eck.  At Strachur (pretty little shoreside village), turn right along the shore of Loch Fyne, which offers great views of the county town of Inveraray on the far bank.
At the T junction with the A83,  turn right.  This will take you south, over the Rest and be Thankful pass, through Arrochar and down the western shore of Loch Lomond to Balloch.  From there follow the A811 back towards Appletree Cottage

Isle of Bute via Portavadie and Wemyss Bay

(a more ambitious full day out)
NB: Don't get stranded - Double check last ferry times!
From Appletree Cottage follow the A811 to Balloch.  Go through Balloch and take the A82 north up the western shore of Loch Lomond.
At Tarbet village take the left-hand fork along the A83 (signposted Inveraray)
Follow the road through Arrochar village on the shore of Loch Long and then up the famous Rest and be Thankful pass.  After Rest and be Thankful follow the long straight road along Glen Kinglas then take the left hand turn along the A815 signposted Dunoon, Colintraive and Isle of Bute Ferry.  Follow this road along the shore of Loch Fyne.  After Struchur continue along the loch shore by turning right onto the A886 signposted Glendaruel, Colintraive and Tighnabruaich.  Follow this road to Colintraive.
The car ferry from Colintraive to Bute takes about ten minutes.  If following this suggested route, it is best to buy a through ticket, ie Colintraive to Bute then Bute to Wemyss Bay – much cheaper.  The ferry is about every half hour.
Once on Bute there is lots to see including the famous Mount Stewart mansion, Rothsay Castle or the spectacular western shoreline with fantastic views across to Arran.
From Rothsay take the ferry to Wemyss Bay then the A78 to Greenock, the A8 (becomes M8) to Erskine Bridge.  Cross the Erskine Bridge and follow the A82 to Balloch then the A811 back to Appletree Cottage.

Helensburgh, Kikcreggan and Roseneath Peninsula.

(A good afternoon - or a day if you take the passenger ferry from Kilcreggan to Gourock and back)
From Appletree Cottage follow the A811 to Balloch.  From Balloch take the A82 north towards Crianlarich.  At Arden roundabout take the first exit signposted Helensburgh. 
Helensburgh, on the shore of the Clyde estuary founded in the late 18th century retains much of its original feel.  
There is a market in the square at weekends and a good selection of shops and eateries along and close to the esplanade.  (Dino’s, we think does the best ice cream!)
From Helensburgh (very popular with artists because of its ever changing light) head north along the A814 and go through Rhu (very popular for yachts) and past Faslane (very popular with nuclear submarines) until you get to Garelochhead.  From Garelochead take the B833 through down the west side of Gare Loch through Clynder and down to Kilcreggan.  There is a ferry which goes from Kilcreggan across the water to Gourock.  Winter timetable is here – check for summer times..
www.calmac.co.uk/roseneath-gourock-kilcreggan-ferry-winter-timetable
In Gourock the Café Continental on the main drag and an easy walk for the ferry is a great art deco popular establishments with good food and fabulous vistas across the Clyde www.cafe-continental.com
From Kilcreggan continue along the B833 and it will take you through Cove – with all its almost castle like mansions and back to Garelochhead.
Rather than take the main road back you might like to take the turning to Glen Fruin as you approach Faslane.  This mostly single track road takes you through the pretty and peaceful Glen Fruin - keep an eye out for Hen Harriers.
On your return drive from Helensburgh, if you are retracing your steps Duck Bay is a good stop with a good restaurant and café on the shore of Loch Lomond.

Round trip via Crianlarich, Killin, Callandar and Aberfoyle. 

(A full day out)
From Appletree Cottage take the A811 to Balloch.  Go through Balloch and take the A82 north signposted Crianlarich.  At Tarbet take the right hand turn onto the A82 and continue along the loch shore to Crianlarich.  The Falls of Falloch aka Rob Roy’s Bathtub near the road and on the right a few miles after Ardlui, is worth a look on this stretch.
At Crianlarich go into the village and turn right onto the A85 along Glen Dochart.  Take the turn off to Killin A827 and go down to the village to see the Falls of Dochart as they rush under the bridge at the entrance to the village on their way to Loch Tay.
Continuing back up to the A82 follow the road south down through the famous Glen Ogle and Lohearnhead to Callandar.
In Callander turn right at the lights onto the A81 and follow this to just before Aberfoyle where you take the A81 south turning right onto the A811 and back home to Appletree Cottage.

Round trip to Inveraray 

(A full day out)
From Appletree Cottage follow the A811 to Balloch.  Go through Balloch and take the A82 north up the western shore of Loch Lomond.
At Tarbet village take the left-hand fork along the A83 (signposted Inveraray)
Follow the road through Arrochar village on the shore of Loch Long and then up the famous Rest and be Thankful pass.  After Rest and be Thankful follow the long straight road along Glen Kinglas and soon you descend to the shore of Loch Fyne.
Two places worth a visit near the head of the loch - Fyne Ales Brewery www.fyneales.com and the original Loch Fyne Fisheries restaurant and shop: www.lochfyne.com/shop. Well worth booking if you're going to eat there.
Continue along the A83 until you arrive at Inveraray.  Inveraray Castle, the distinctive seat of the Duke of Argyle has been used in many films including Downton Abbey (as Shrimpy's castle)  and most recently A Very British Scandal: www.inveraray-castle.com
The old town jail is also worth a visit: www.inverarayjail.co.uk as is the excellent Auchendrain Museum five miles along the A83 road towards Lochgilphead: www.auchindrain.org.uk.  Also see our blog of 1/9/2021 for further photos and information.
From Inveraray go through the arch and follow the A819 to Dalmally.  Just as you approach Dalmally along the southern shore of Loch Awe you will see the magnificent ruin of Kilchurn Castle at the head of the loch.  This is well worth a visit: www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/kilchurn-castle/
Follow the A85 past Dalmally along Glen Lochy to Tyndrum (note the new gold mine workings on the hill to the right) and then on to Crianlarich.  At the roundabout at Crianlarich take the A82 - this will take you through Glen Falloch and down the western shore of Loch Lomond and back to Balloch then Appletree Cottage.

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