Three Glens Gravel Loop
The route essentials you need to know
Total Distance: 59.7 km
Total Ascent: 1,180 m
Terrain: A mixture of forest tracks, landrover tracks, paths, minor and service roads, and sections on busy roads
Route Category: Expert
Riding Time: 6 - 7 hrs
Start/Finish: Arrochar and Tarbet Railway Station
OS Grid Ref: NN 31146 04495
Nearest Parking: At the station, also in Tarbet and Arrochar
Key Facilities on Route: Arrochar (shop, accommodation, food), Ardlui (food, accommodation), Tarbet (tea room, accommodation)
OS Landranger Map: 56
Three Glens Gravel Loop
The route starts at Arrochar and Tarbet railway station. After a short section on the main road it follows the Three Lochs Way on a landrover track towards Arrochar, providing superb views towards Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) and Loch Long on a clear day.
Above Arrochar the route crosses through a very narrow tunnel underneath the railway line and descends on a short steep singletrack into the village. After the church the route follows the shore road, passing various places to eat and a shop, and then joins a path through the main park. After a wooden bridge over the river the route crosses the main road, and then follows a small tarmac track into Succoth, before continuing on a short section of road and a landrover track, which leads to another car park at the edge of the forest. From here the route follows the Glen Loin Loop on a smooth and wide forest track.
The track climbs gradually first, with occasional steeper sections in the forest. On a clearing the route offers great views to the mountains again and fords a river, and then descends towards a waterfall. From here the track follows the river and meets a singletrack service road after a bridge. A detour on the road up towards the Loch Sloy dam adds more climbing, but is worth the extra effort on a nice day.
The route follows the small tarmac road for about a kilometre, after which another small road leads up the hill on the left. Once at the top, the views across Loch Lomond and the Trossachs are fantastic. The road turns into a landrover track and descends steeply towards the railway line. Care is needed at corners with loose gravel.
Shortly after crossing the railway the route joins the A82, which follows the shores of Loch Lomond into Ardlui, where a hotel is a good stop at the halfway point. Shortly after the village a gravel track climbs north, and after crossing the railway makes a U-turn to head south towards an open plateau. The views from here towards Loch Lomond are outstanding. The track passes through various forests to the highest point of the route at 360m, before it gradually descends on a very well graded track through Glen Kinglass towards the A83.
A fine example of General Wade’s bridges can be found where the track meets the road, before the route climbs on tarmac, following the route of the former military road to the top of the Rest and Be Thankful at the head of Glen Croe. The words ‘Rest & be thankful’ are inscribed on a stone near the junction of the A83 and the B828, placed there by soldiers who built the original military road in 1753, now referred to as the Drovers' Road. The original stone fell into ruin and was replaced by a commemorative stone at the same site. This is a great spot for the last rest stop before the long descent into the glen. From here the route leaves the main road again and follows the Drovers’ Road into the valley.
After rejoining the A83 for a brief section, the route climbs on the remains of the old tarmac road and a boggy track first, before continuing on a well-graded gravel track. More views over Loch Long and Arrochar are a good reward for the climb, before the route descends towards the car park at Succoth. It follows gravel tracks into Arrochar, and returns on the A83 to the finish at the station.
Spanning over three stunning glens, this route is the perfect day gravel adventure in summer, or an overnight weekend trip in the shoulder seasons, with stunning views, challenging climbs and fast descents. Markus Stitz