|Route outline (key)|
The Trossachs Trail is a tourist route in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The bulk of the route encompasses the A821 from Kilmahog to Aberfoyle. However, the route continues at either end, with some rather randomly located signs giving inconsistent directions to traffic wishing to follow the route further.
We shall start at the visitor centre in Callander, where the signs agree that the trail follows the A84 west to Kilmahog. Callander is a popular tourist destination, with a rich heritage and plenty of attractions to occupy a few hours, from the eclectic mix of shops, a toy museum, visitor centre and a riverside trail. It is one of the gateways to the Highlands, and as such can become very crowded at the height of summer, but nevertheless it is a good place to stop and explore.
A mile or so to the west, the woolen mills at Kilmahog are another popular destination, and it is here where the trail turns off onto the A821 for 'The Trossachs'. The A821 is a much twistier and hillier road than the generally wide and fast A84, and with a large volume of tourist coaches care must be taken, particularly in the summer months. There are, however, plenty of places to pull in and stop awhile, with forest trails, visitor centres, cycle routes and holiday parks along the road. Brig o'Turk is a small but growing village with tea rooms and an Inn and a good base for walkers keen to explore the lochs in the forest to the south.
Beyond Brig o'Turk, the Trossachs Church is scenically set above Loch Achray, and a little further along the road is one of the fabulously grand hotels that the Victorians built in the area. This turreted palace can be seen from several miles away through gaps in the forest! The trail swings left at the sharp bend ahead, but a short detour to Loch Katrine, with its steamer service in the summer is a must. There are a good array of visitor facilities, and a selection of outdoor activities are also catered for at one of the most scenic of Scotlands lochs.
Returning to the trail, it no heads south over the Dukes Pass, a road built by the Duke of Montrose in the 19th Century, but rebuilt and brought up to (then) modern standards less than 100 years ago. It is a real rollercoaster journey south, twisting and turning whilst rising and falling over the rugged landscape. A brief respite could be had by taking the forest drive through the forestry commission land in the Trossachs, although it is better explored by foot or bike. At length the road drops down into Aberfoyle, passing the Tree Top Adventure Centre just before reaching the village.
Aberfoyle, like Callander, is a very busy little tourist spot with plenty of shops and eateries as well as a railway path and other activities for the more adventurous. Heading west on the B829 leads deep into wilderness country, with roads leading to Inversnaid on the shore of Loch Lomond, or the upper reaches of Loch Katrine. The tourist trail, however, turns east, quickly reaching the A81. Here the trail turns left past the Lake of Menteith. This is, correctly, the only lake in Scotland, every other stretch of water being a Loch or Lochan. It is also home to the ruins of Inchmahome Priory, set on a wooded island and accessed by a short boat trip from the car park on the B8034.
A couple of miles further on, and the route turns right onto the A873, heading for Thornhill. However, here the trail runs dry. Thornhill is a pretty little village, little more than a single street, but sadly lacking in onward direction signs for the Trossachs Trail. Other signs for the trail have been located on the A84 in Doune, pointing west and the A81 in Callander, pointing west along the A84. However, there seems to be a gap in signage to connect them together.
It could be suggested that the trail should lead east from Thornhill to Blair Drummond Safari Park, and then take the A84 to Doune, a pleasant little town home to Doune Castle, originally made famous by Monty Python, but it has featured in a number of other Films and TV shows since. From Doune, the A84 leads back to Callander, but a slightly more relaxing route would follow the B8032 to the A81, with some fine scenery along this quiet route.