Scotland's Great Trails: The Three Lochs Way

The Three Lochs Way is described as the ‘walking gateway to Argyll & the Isles’ and what a way to arrive! This 34-miles route, one of Scotland’s Great Trails, is a stunning journey through southern Argyll linking Loch Lomond, Gare Loch and Loch Long in four stages. It starts at Balloch on the south west shore of Loch Lomond and finishes at Inveruglas near the top end of the loch. Rarely rising above 250 metres, it can easily be walked in three to four days.

The scenery of Loch Long is simply breathtaking.

The Gateway to the Isles

This fabulously diverse route gives a tantalising taste of everything that Argyll has to offer, from tranquil wooded glens to towering peaks to vibrant communities. Gentle landscapes give way to dramatic mountains as the route crosses the Highland Boundary and heads towards the mountains of the Southern Highlands. There are so many natural and historical attractions to see as you traverse this enchanting terrain.

Here are five highlights that you must not miss along the way!

1. The epic panorama from Goukhill Muir.

On the first section of The Three Lochs Way you’ll be treated to a spectacular elevated views in all directions from the viewpoint at Goukhill Muir. Take a breather and enjoy the sight of Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond and the Highlands stretching out before you.

The view of Ben Lomond. Credit: Visit Scotland

2. The handsome town of Helensburgh.

With broad tree-lined avenues, piers, promenades, shops and eateries, Helensburgh is a fabulous place to explore. Don’t miss Hill House, universally regarded as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s finest domestic creation. Perfectly restored, much of the house looks almost exactly as it did in 1904 and features a mix of Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Scottish Baronial and Japonisme architecture and design.

Visit Helensburgh during spring to witness the cherry blossom. Credit: Destination Helensburgh

3. The craggy ‘Cobbler’.

The mountains clustered around the head of Loch Long are known as the Arrochar Alps. They include the famous Ben Arthur, commonly known as the 'Cobbler’ because of its distinctive rugged, rocky summit that’s supposed to look like a cobbler bending over his last. At 884 metres (2,900ft) in height it's only a Corbett, but it’s a hugely impressive sight.

Looking down from the iconic peak of 'the Cobbler' is well worth the hike. 

4. The delightful Glen Loin woodlands.

This wonderful native wood near Arrochar offers fabulous walking. It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to a huge variety of flora and fauna, including red squirrels. It’s particularly lovely in spring.

5. The impressive Sloy Power Station and Dam.

At the end of your walk check out this fantastic feat of engineering. Giant pipes run down from Ben Vorlich driving the turbines of the Sloy Hydro-Electric Power Station. It was officially opened in 1950 and built with help from German POWs. The Loch Sloy Dam, which supplies water to the power station via a tunnel right under Ben Vorlich, is a 6km detour that’s well worth the effort.

Getting there

There’s a railway station at the start and end of each section, except at the very end at Inveruglas where there is only a bus stop.

Extend your trip

The Three Lochs Way joins with the Lomond and Cowal Way at Arrochar. Cross Loch Lomond by ferry from Inveruglas to join the West Highland Way and return to Balloch using the John Muir Way to complete a journey around the south end of the loch.

Find out more about things to see and do in Loch Lomond.