Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park#6 in Best Things To Do in Scottish Highlands
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Scotland's first national park houses Loch Lomond, Britain's largest loch. The park is much smaller than its northern neighbor (Cairngorms National Park is 1,748 square miles while Loch Lomond & The Trossachs measures 720 square miles), but it still offers plenty of things to do. While Cairngorms is known for its mountains, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs stands out for its many beautiful bodies of water. Along with the grand Loch Lomond, the park has 22 other lochs to its name, yielding about 39 miles of coastline for visitors to enjoy, as well as 50 rivers.
The park is divided into four distinct areas. Loch Lomond is considered its own distinct area and is the most visited, offering villages for visitors to stay, shop and sightsee in. The second most-visited area is the Trossachs, situated northeast of Loch Lomond. The Trossachs stands out for housing two National Scenic Areas, the Great Trossachs Forest and Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, the former of which stands as one of the U.K.'s largest national nature reserves. The Trossachs is an endless sea of munros (mountains higher than 3,000 feet) overlooking glittering lochs, including the popular Loch Katrine. For breathtaking loch views, hike Ben A'an, a 1,491-foot-tall hill that overlooks both Loch Katrine and Loch Achray. If you're looking for something a little more leisurely, hit up part of the 30-mile-long Great Trossachs Path, which passes by Loch Katrine, Loch Arklet and Loch Venachar.
Bredalbane (north of the Trossachs) and Cowal Peninsula (west of Loch Lomond) are the two other areas of the park. Bredalbane and Cowal Peninsula has fewer lochs but features some standout attractions, including Dochart Falls in Killin (Bredalbane) and the fairytale-like Puck's Glen in Arygll Forest Park (Cowal Peninsula).
The easiest way to get around Loch Lomond & The Trossachs is via car. You can also navigate the area via train. From Glasgow, there is a direct train that goes into Balloch, the national park's gateway city situated at the southernmost point of Loch Lomond. Unfortunately, unlike Cairngorms National Park, that is the only train station in the park. Once you're in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, there are various bus companies that operate individual routes all over the park. There are also waterbuses that service Loch Lomond. The park is free to visit and doesn't have set hours. For more information on Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, visit the park's website.
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#1 Isle of Skye
If you only had time to visit one part of the Scottish Highlands, let it be the Isle of Skye. Located on the west coast of the Highlands, Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides. The island is filled to the brim with otherworldly landscapes. There's a lot to see on this island, but travel experts and visitors say you can't leave without peeping these gems: the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr, Neist Point and the Fairy Pools.
The Quiraing is the perfect introduction to Skye's spellbinding geography. As you descend down the Quiraing, you'll be greeted with sweeping views of stunning geography: Cracked plateaus with craggy cliffsides lead the way to an expansive valley of verdant rolling hills, stately rock formations and alpine lakes. Situated 13 miles south is the Old Man of Storr, a single, pinnacle-shaped rock which stands out for its looks; it's so tall and distinct, it can easily be spotted from sea level miles away.
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