Loch Lomond is the largest of Scotland's lochs. The center of the ancient district of Lennox, it was possessed by the Stewart (Stuart) family, to which Lord Darnley (second husband of Mary Queen of Scots) belonged. The ruins of Lennox Castle are on Inchmurrin, one of the loch's 30 islands; Inchmurrin has ecclesiastical ruins and is noted for its yew trees, planted by King Robert the Bruce to ensure a suitable supply of wood for the bows of his archers. The loch is fed by at least 10 rivers from west, east, and north and is about 39km (24 miles) long; it stretches 8km (5 miles) at its widest point. On the eastern side is Ben Lomond, which rises to a height of 968m (3,176 ft.).
The song "Loch Lomond" was supposedly composed by one of Bonnie Prince Charlie's captured followers on the eve of his execution in Carlisle Jail. The "low road" of the song is the path through the underworld that his spirit will follow to his native land after death, more quickly than his friends can travel to Scotland by the ordinary high road.
For information on train travel to Loch Lomond, call 08457/484-950, or visit www.nationalexpress.com. Glasgow is the best rail center for trips to the loch. Trains depart Monday to Saturday from the Glasgow Queen Street Station or from Glasgow Central on Sunday at the rate of two per hour. The trip takes 45 minutes and costs £4.15 for a one-way ticket. Arrivals are at the town of Balloch.
Scottish Citylink (tel. 08705/505-050; www.citylink.co.uk) runs seven buses a day to Balloch, costing £4.90 to £10 for a one-way ticket; the trip takes 45 minutes. These buses also continue along the western shoreline to other centers such as Luss and Tarbet, which also open onto Lomond. If you wish to explore the eastern side of the loch, take bus no. 309 from Balloch.
The easiest way to see the famous loch is not by car but by one of the local ships owned by Sweeney's Cruisers Ltd., and based at Sweeney's Shipyard, 26 Balloch Rd., Balloch G83 8LQ (tel. 01389/752-376; www.sweeney.uk.com). Cruises last for about an hour, and in summer depart every hour from 10:30am to 7:30pm (departures in other months are based on demand). At £4 to £6.50 per person round-trip, cruises sail from Balloch toward a wooded island, Inchmurrin, year-round home to five families, several vacation chalets, and a summer-only nudist colony. The ship doesn't dock at the island, however.