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A breathtaking hike from lowlands to Highlands — Three Lochs Way

mikeyyuen (CC BY-NC 2.0)

A breathtaking hike from lowlands to Highlands — Three Lochs Way

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson



7-8 h

/ day

35.5 mi

3,550 ft

3,650 ft

The Three Lochs Way is a medium-distance hike from the gentle lowlands of Scotland to the wild Highlands that links Loch Lomond with the sea lochs of Gare Loch and Loch Long.

From Balloch, in West Dunbartonshire, the 33-mile (54-km) trail takes you over moors to Helensburgh, rises over the Highland Boundary Fault, heads along Glen Fruin, passes Loch Long and passes through Glen Loin to finish at Inveruglas, in Argyll and Bute.

As the route unfolds, pastoral lowland landscapes gradually give way to the breathtaking drama of Highland mountainscapes, especially as impressive views of the Arrochar Alps are revealed at the head of Loch Long.

Highlights along the Way include: awe-inspiring views over Loch Lomond as you cross the Highland Boundary Fault; the tree-lined streets and beach at Helensburgh; Charles Rennie Macintosh’s domestic masterpiece, the Hill House; the peaceful Glen Loin Woodlands, which are home to rare red squirrels; and An Ceann Mòr, an art installation that affords magical views of Loch Lomond.

The walking is generally leisurely throughout the Three Lochs Way. Whilst there are a couple of tough climbs and descents, these are not too common and the gradients are typically steady. The route does traverse some landscapes that feel very remote. However, in reality, civilisation is never too far away and the trail is mostly waymarked.

In this Collection I have opted for an ambitious two-day itinerary; 17.3 miles (27.8 km) and 18.2 miles (29.3 km), respectively. If you are a seasoned long-distance hiker looking for a challenge, this will be perfect.

However, I have suggested a way to split both routes in half, making for a leisurely four-day itinerary, averaging roughly 8 miles (13 km) per stage, which is perfect for anybody finding their long-distance hiking feet.

Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation. Public transport links are good for most of the route.

Every stop is well-served with accommodation. However, places to stay can be limited so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling your rest days accordingly.

To get to the start of the trail, Balloch has a train station with direct services from Glasgow and connections around the UK.

The end of the trail is slightly more problematic as Inveruglas has no accommodation and sketchy public transport links.

Currently, there is one bus per day at 3.54pm (the 915 service, see: bustimes.org/services/915-glasgow-uig) to Tarbet, which has a train station with direct services to Glasgow and connections elsewhere. Failing that, your best bet is to arrange a taxi/pick-up from Inveruglas to Tarbet.

On The Map


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Three Lochs Way

33.7 mi

3,275 ft

3,275 ft

Last updated: November 8, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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  1. Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Balloch to Garelochhead — Three Lochs Way

    17.3 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,850 ft
    1,375 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The first stage takes you from the southern tip of Loch Lomond and up onto rugged moors with magnificent sea views.


    With 17.3 miles (27.8 km) of distance, 1,850 feet (564 m) of uphill, and 1,375 feet (419 m) of downhill, this is a crucial hike. (For suggestions on how to split / shorten the stage, read


  2. 08:15
    18.2 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,700 ft
    2,275 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Breathtaking views over the Arrochar Alps combine with peaceful loch shores and majestic woodlands on this stage.


    You need a good level of fitness and ability for this hike, which is 18.2 miles (29.3 km) long and has some tough ascents and descents. However, with 1,700 feet (518 m) of uphill and 2,275



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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    35.5 mi
  • Duration
    15:58 h
  • Elevation
    3,550 ft3,650 ft

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