Hoover and I enjoyed a wander around Arrochar on the banks of Loch Long in Argyll & Bute a while back. Arrochar is a small village that sits right at the head of the loch. It is popular with mountaineers as it is overlooked by the Arrochar Alps, the most notable peak being The Cobbler. The village is in among some of the most beautiful scenery on the Cowal peninsula and is ideally located for exploring the northern section of the Argyll Forest Park. The village is remote, yet easy to reach as it on the A83. It has several local pubs and restaurants with good food and live music. As well as small general stores for basic supplies there is a pottery studio and craft gallery in the village. The latter has a range of locally-made ceramics, jewellery and paintings.
There is plenty of on street parking along the loch-front however we chose to park right at the top of the loch (map) in the pay and display car park. (streetview) From here you get the most amazing views down the length of the water, and you can begin to appreciate how Loch Long got it’s name. It is actually a sea loch and it extends from the Firth of Clyde at its southwestern end, measuring roughly 20 miles long with a width that varies between 1 to 2 miles. It is popular among fishermen looking for mackerel and the like, as well as divers who seek out the various wrecks that are a result of torpedo testing during World War II. All this makes Arrochar sound quite busy, but actually it is a quiet and pretty place that is perfectly suited to walkers or those who wish to take in the scenery by car.
There are plenty of places to walk here, and if you continue on from Arrochar you’ll find little places to leave the car dotted here and there along the A83, and lots of footpaths that wend their way in all directions. You can walk right up into the mountains, or you can stay closer to the water’s edge and pick up The Cowan Way on the far side of the loch. As an alternative (perhaps if you are feeling more like having a ‘mooch’ than a hike) you can walk from the car park back along the A83 towards the village centre…this route follows the water’s edge. When this road veers off you can carry on along the ‘prom’ enjoying the views. This road runs along the side of the loch, but once it passes The Village Inn is becomes more enclosed with greenery and the pavement/footpath comes to a halt, so I wouldn’t continue this way on foot as things get quite snug when two vehicles pass each other. However this is a great excuse to stop at The Village Inn for lunch, which is exactly what we did.
We found The Village Inn to be a great pub and Hoover was extremely welcome in the bar area. They do have a restaurant area too, but they serve food in both so we didn’t miss out. The staff made a real fuss of Hooves, and didn’t object when he insisted on propping up the bar in his usual style. The atmosphere pretty jolly as there were locals and well as tourists chattering away, and I didn’t feel at all conspicuous eating alone. I say alone because Hooves was off, doing a tour of the pub, introducing himself to all and sundry so he wasn’t much company for me!! There is plenty of seating inside and outside, the latter giving you great views across the loch. I had risotto for lunch…it was delicious! We discovered that The Village Inn also has rooms and that dogs are allowed to stay, so I am already thinking that the next time we are heading up to Skye it would be an ideal place to stop overnight. If you’re travelling up the western side of Scotland the chances are you’ll take the A82, which runs along the side of Loch Lomond. If so, Arrochar and The Village Inn is only a 5 minute detour from the top of Loch Lomond at Tarbet. (map) It is well worth making a pit stop here, and I think it is highly likely that we’ll be back!