48 Hours in Loch Lomond With A Toddler
[dropcap]I [/dropcap]have lived in Scotland my entire life - always just outside of Glasgow, or there abouts. I'm the first to rhyme off lists of cities I want to see, of countries I want to visit, and yet I am also the first to put my hands up and say that I haven't seen nearly as much of my own country as I should have. I've spent hours trawling the internet researching staycations in the likes of Cornwall, or the Lake District, always overlooking the amazing locations I have right on my doorstep. I made it a resolution this year to see more of Scotland, and this weekend we had our first mini-staycation in Loch Lomond. Loch Lomond is not a new venture, it's a stone throw away from Glasgow, and a place we've visited a handful of times for day trips. This weekend we had the chance to test drive the Jaguar F Pace and it seemed fitting that with the new car, we took a new approach to Loch Lomond and became tourists in our country.
The weekend was a slow one, which is something I don't often get to proclaim with a toddler in tow. We traded in softplay and Saturday morning football games for mountains, nature walks and duck chasing - and a much needed breath of fresh air for us all. We stayed in Luss, a small village on the west shore of Loch Lomond, which was a perfect base for exploring everything Loch Lomond had to offer. We were very lucky in that the weather was perfect for a February break (well, as perfect as Scottish weather can be in February) - clear skies and a bitter chill, but a perfect way to experience Scotland as tourists.
What We Drove
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Whatever car you have works well, but if you really want to go the extra mile - a Jaguar 4x4 is the way forward. Loch Lomond is known for the scenery - it's hard not to find yourself with glued to the window as you wind through the hills and the mountains. It may only be a short distance from the hustle and bustle of city life in Glasgow, but the scenic drive alone can make you feel like you are hours away. Before setting off, we picked up a test drive car for the weekend from the Pentland Jaguar Dealership in Edinburgh. It was a slight detour and by slight I mean in the complete opposite direction we would have been driving from Glasgow to Loch Lomond, but it was completely and entirely worth it to pick up the Jaguar F Pace. I don't know about anyone else, but I've always though of a Jaguar as a sports car, never an SUV and never a family car. The brand has always represented luxury business owner moreso than sticky toddler in my head, but it's safe to say I'm completely converted after a good go at driving one.
I normally drive a Volkswagen Tiguan, and this would have coped fine over the weekend -although windy, very rainy and sometimes snowy, the drive through Loch Lomond is not particularly difficult. Difficult aside, the drive in a normal jeep is very different to that in a Jaguar Jeep, and it all comes down to comfort. The first thing worth mentioning about the Jaguar F Pace is the space. The car is huge. I could recline the passenger seat comfortably, and Harrison was still unable to kick the back (hallelujah). Our full travel system, travel cot and an unprecedented amount of stuff we probably didn't need fit comfortably in the boot, which meant we were able to travel without loading up the back seats. Speaking of seats, I don't think I'll ever be able to convey the difference heated seats make to a journey, or, to life in general. There is no joy like sitting on a heated seat after a three hour walk in freezing temperatures, no joy at all. We couldn't have asked for a better car to take on Loch Lomond with, and after allowing Jordan to drive a Jaguar F Pace R Sport I've without a doubt won a good few girlfriend points that should see me through the next few months.
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What We Done
Whether you have a small child or not, what you do in Loch Lomond will probably always be the same. You walk, you cycle, you breathe in the fresh air that you normally don't get a chance two. We spent two full days' wrapped up and walking around lakes and through the forest trails. When I say full days I mean three hours, before retreating to the warmth of the local village pubs for the comfort of a warm fire and a game (or five) of Jenga. The Loch Lomond Aquarium was a close second to Jenga - it's inevitable that the rain will start at some point, and indoor options that don't involve a pub lunch aren't quite so plentiful in Loch Lomond, so this is a goodie for younger ones.
Bearing in mind we took our trip in February, so our options for activities were pretty limited. We spent more time chasing ducks than anything else, which was nice for us and even nicer for Harrison. There was so many little stony beaches for him to run around on, albeit keeping him out of the water was a task in itself. We made the mistake of taking him to the Luss Pier where he watched some crazy folk going for a swim in wetsuits. It turns out trying to make a one year old understand why it's a crazy idea to swim in -2 degrees is not the simplest task. I can't wait to return in Summer now - the views around Loch Lomond are breathtaking, I can only imagine how nice they will be with an ice cream in hand and when there is no requirement for thermal underwear.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Loch Lomond Arms in the village of Luss. It's cosy with a bed and breakfast feel but also very convenient for exploring. I don't think it would feel right exploring Loch Lomond off the back of a travel lodge, a good old fashioned inn that serves a good hearty Scottish breakfast is the way forward, and that is exactly what we got here. It's also not far from Glasgow, so for those travelling from further afield it's a lovely location to get the best of both worlds. For this weekend, I really wasn't too fussed about where we were staying, as we had no plans to be in the hotel for too long at one time. Accommodation near/in Loch Lomond is plentiful, so if your anything like me you'll pick the first respectable looking bed and breakfast on Booking.com and it will probably still be a winner for the short time you'll actually spend there.
Dislcosure: We were given the Jaguar F Pace by the lovely folks at John Clark for the purposes of a test drive over the weekend. As always, all opinions are my own - I am completely in awe of the F Pace and my own car unfortunately feels a bit lack lustre in comparison.