Often I get asked the question, ‘Where’s your favourite place to paddle?’ Commonly I respond with ‘Scotland’ or ‘Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park’ because it’s true. Both the Park and Scotland have, in my opinion, some of the best paddling, which is why despite having had the opportunities to paddle around the world I keep coming back to Scotland and the Park.
Why the park? I class my self as a paddler, I’m just as happy jumping on a paddleboard to running whitewater in a slicey boat and everything in between. Which means when I look at all the amazing whitewater runs, big open water trips, chilled out hidden gems and exciting multi day options the park has to offer it’s clearly the best place to be.
So here’s my personal run down of my top five favourite places in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park to go paddling, and what craft I take.
1. Garbh Uisge, Whitewater Kayak.
The Garbh Uisge, more commonly known as the River Leny, is a short whitewater class 3+ that runs from Loch Lubnaig to join the River Teith in Callander. Most people will get off the river at Kilmahog, making the run 3km of almost constant class 3+, with the class 4 Falls of Leny in the middle of the river to keep you on your toes.
2. Loch Goil, Touring/Sea Kayak.
The sea loch on the western edge of the park is often overlooked as to access the loch you have to drive 10 miles of single track to the small village of Lochgoilhead, but it’s well worth the drive. The loch is quiet, tree lined and full of sea birds and seals. At the far end of the loch is picturesque Carrick Castle.
3. River Balvaig, Paddleboard.
Don’t let the word river but you off. The River Balvaig meanders through heart of Breadalbane with a few little ripples to negotiate, as long as you can point your board straight you’ll love floating down this stunning winding river from the famous village of Balquhidder down to the village of Strathyre and the brilliant Broch Café.
4. Loch Lomond, Open Canoe.
Of course Loch Lomond was going to appear on this list, it’s the largest loch in the park and honestly worth a visit. It does have it’s issues and can be busy, but on a good day it’s fantastic, with lots of islands to explore, stunning scenery, and some really unusual mammals to be found too.
5. Rob Roy Explore(Long Distance Route), Open Canoe.
This is a fantastic trip, covering 40km of brilliant mixed environment paddling, starting on Lochs Doine and Voile down the Balvaig, onto Loch Lubnaig, down the Garbh Uisge and then onto the mighty River Teith. A brilliant long distance route you can actually stay afloat for most of, with most people only portaging the Falls of Leny.
There we have it, my top 5 places to paddle in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National park. Don’t get me wrong, there are other fantastic places around Scotland and across the planet to paddle however, as a multi craft paddler, I think nowhere beats the park for great boating in such a compact area.
The big question is, what would be your top 5 places to paddle?