Ideas for free family days out
Different days out from around the country that won't cost you a penny.
It’s easy to make the outdoors fun at the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. It is a vast open space full of plants, wildlife, forests, lochs, rivers and hills and mountains. The area covers parts of Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, Argyll and Bute and Perth and Kinross.
You can get to and from the park by car, coach, train or ferry and if you live far enough away, you can even travel up to Glasgow by plane. It’s a great place for a day out, but you can also stay for a short break or a holiday in one of the park’s many campsites. There are pitches for tents, motorhomes and campervans, or you can stay in an hotel, B&B or self-catering cottage.
There’s so much to do, even teenagers will be tempted to tear themselves away from their phones for a short while. All the family can enjoy the activities available in the park because there really is something for everyone.
There’s plenty of water throughout the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. In fact, there are 22 lochs and a freshwater lake, which means water enthusiasts will have plenty to choose from.
Outdoor swimming is popular in the park with Milarrochy Bay being a good spot, or you could try the Falls of Falloch waterfall, or the beautiful Loch Katrine.
You’ll need a permit if you are interested in doing some fishing, but you can buy them from various locations across the park. Beginners and experienced anglers can catch salmon, trout and pike. There’s plenty of places for fly fishing, course fishing and river fishing. The Lake of Menteith is stocked each year with trout, or you can catch salmon in the River Teith.
Also on the water, there are plenty of people sailing, paddle-boarding and windsurfing. Some enthusiasts will bring their own equipment while beginners generally use companies that offer introductory courses to canoeing and kayaking.
If you want to explore the lochs from a boat, you can also hire pedal boats and motor boats. You’ll find boat hire companies in Balloch, Luss, Balmaha or Lochoilhead. If you want a peaceful trip on the water, take a cruise or if you fancy something more adventurous you can ride in a sea plane - a fantastic way to get a good look at the scenery.
If you prefer to do something away from the water, there are lots of activities which give you a chance to see the countryside.
Horse riding and pony trekking are available across the park. It doesn’t matter if you have never ridden before, many of the treks are for beginners as well as experienced riders. Check beforehand about the age limits. Some centres allow children to ride from the age of 4 onwards, while others will only accept children of 12 years and over.
Walking is, of course, a fantastic way to see the very best the park has to offer. You can take part in short distance routes, group walks with a guide, tackle some hills or spend a few days and complete one of the six great trails within the park. Loch Lomond is a haven for all types of wildlife and depending on where you choose to walk you can expect to see butterflies, red squirrel, deer, ospreys, swifts, lapwings and eagles in the countryside. Otters, kingfishers and geese populate the lochs. In the Balloch Country Park there are mobility scooters available so that disabled tourists can explore the walled gardens, the shore path or the castle view.
If you want an extra challenge then the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park has plenty of hills and mountains, so whatever your age or fitness level, there will be a peak for you to climb up to. Corbetts are mountains between 2,500 and 3,000 feet in height and there are 20 of them in the park. Mountains above 3,000 feet are called Munros and the park has 21 of them. The highest peak is Ben More close to Crainlarich and its just over 1,851 feet high.
If you want maps, information, toilets or somewhere to stop for refreshments, there are visitor centres in Callander, Balloch, Balmaha, Duke’s Pass, Aberfoyle, Glen Finglas and Tyndrum. Not all of them are open during the winter months, so check before you decide to visit.
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