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Just a short drive from Glasgow, you’ll find a good number of lochs (that’s what we Scots call ‘lakes’) that are truly captivating! From tranquil waters amidst rolling hills to vast expanses offering water sports and even hikes, Glasgow has something for you.
So settle in, grab a cuppa (or something stronger if you fancy!), and read our list of the top lakes in Glasgow to find your next great Scottish outdoor adventure.
Just 12 miles north of Glasgow city, Craigallian Loch is right up your alley if you fancy a day trip to the countryside. The verdant Kilpatrick Hills on its periphery present dramatic backgrounds, ideal for nature photography.
If you enjoy angling, the loch is home to a variety of fish, like roaches, perch, and pike. For birdwatchers, the surrounding woods teem with diverse bird life, making it a real birding paradise.
The loch is a popular fishing spot on the weekends, but don’t worry; there’s no fishing permit required here. As for parking, you’ll have to park near Craigallian Road, which is just a short walk away.
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Located within the Stepps area of Glasgow, Frankfield Loch strikes a fine balance between urban convenience and rustic allure. It’s a mere 7 miles from the city centre, making it a perfect choice for those spontaneous picnics or sundown strolls.
You can run, hike, or cycle around the loch to soak in its unfazed tranquillity while glimpsing waterfowl and iconic Scottish wildlife. The loch also boasts a modern boating centre, if you fancy a paddle around.
This place can be busy during the summer, so you better make a plan. Also, the parking is free and directly accessible from Frankfield Road.
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The Broadwood Loch, a pastoral oasis in the heart of Cumbernauld town, is just a little more than 13 miles from Glasgow and is easily reachable by public or private transport. You’ve got sweeping views of undulating hills, cloud-topped skies, and well-kept trails.
This loch is quite popular among locals for canoeing or kayaking, relaxing, jogging, or even a leisurely bike ride. A community sports club is close by, providing a range of sporting facilities and activities.
The loch is open all year, but it’s advisable to visit during daylight hours to soak up all it has to offer. Parking is available near Broadwood Stadium.
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Your list won’t be complete without a visit to the spectacular Loch Ard, lying near Aberfoyle. A 30-mile drive northwest of Glasgow gets you to this fantastic retreat, enveloped by dense woods and highland hills.
Loch Ard offers lush picnic spots, tranquil walking trails, fishing, boating, and even off-road cycling routes. A charming sculpture trail adds an element of surprise to your exploration.
Parking is available at several points around the lake. Don’t forget to check out the nearby David Marshall Lodge visitor centre for maps and other local information.
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Now, we have Loch Lomond, and this ain’t just any lake; it’s the largest in mainland Britain and arguably the most famous loch in Scotland. It’s just over 20 miles away from Glasgow city, making it the perfect day trip destination.
Loch Lomond offers a ton of activities, from boat trips, wild swimming, and fishing to hiking, bird watching, and camping. If that’s not enough, check out the nearby attractions like the Sea Life Loch Lomond Aquarium or the elegant Balloch Castle.
Pay-and-display car parks are scattered all around the lake. But, remember, weekends can be busy, so consider visiting on weekdays if you can swing it.
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Just over 6 miles northwest of the busy streets of Glasgow, Kilmardinny Loch assures you just that. Nestled within sprawling woodlands, this particular locale is a haven for tired souls seeking replenishment through nature’s touch.
Fishing and bird watching are the main activities here. The loch has well-maintained footpaths that weave along its bank, perfect for a relaxed evening or early morning walk.
Kilmardinny House Arts Centre, near the Loch, hosts a variety of art and drama events. Though parking is free at the lake, checking the event schedule might help you snag a more convenient spot!
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Based in Easterhouse, Glasgow, Lochend Loch screams accessibility, as it’s just under 9 miles from the city centre. Yes, you’re that close to a peaceful retreat, and the surrounding marshes and woodland make it an excellent sanctuary for wildlife.
Lochend Loch offers a rich variety of bird species, like tufted ducks, swans, and coots. There are also numerous flat paths ideal for walking, running, or cycling, plus the Drumpellier Country Park nearby provides additional facilities.
The area gets busy when the sun’s out, so an early visit would help beat the rush. Also, there’s free parking available near the visitor centre.
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Situated in the historical district of Milngavie, Mugdock Reservoir lies around 6 miles north of Glasgow. This loch is enclosed by a Victorian aqueduct, and the location boasts stunning natural beauty and a charming rural appeal.
Mugdock Reservoir has ample flat, paved paths ideal for walking, running, or cycling, and if you’re lucky, you might spot some red deer or foxes among other wildlife. A couple of local cafes are there to serve your hunger pang after a reservoir ramble.
While the reservoir area remains open around the clock, it’s best to check the opening times of nearby facilities to get the most out of your visit. Public parking is available at the nearby Mugdock Country Park.
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Just 23 miles northwest of Glasgow, inside Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, lies the gorgeous Loch Drunkie. With its stunning backdrop of towering trees and rugged hills, this spot offers some brilliant opportunities for tranquil nature walks.
The regulars love circular walking routes around the loch, which I know you’ll love too! For adventure lovers, the Three Lochs Forest Drive is a gem, offering sightings of red squirrels, buzzards, or even the occasional osprey.
The forest drive is typically open from April to October, costs about £2 per vehicle, and has several spots to park.
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Now, the Balgray Reservoir, about 8 miles southwest of Glasgow, might surprise you at how incredibly accessible yet secluded this area feels. The vehicle noise disappears as you get closer to the reservoir, replaced by the calming sound of water.
It is surrounded by woods, so it is ideal for a casual walk or bird watching. Plus, this loch is close to other exciting locales like the Dams to Darnley County Park and Waulkmill Glen Reservoir.
Be prepared for a little mud along the footpaths if you’re visiting following rain. Parking is free and available in a nearby car park.
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Linlithgow Loch is a remarkable wee spot that’s perched inside the Linlithgow Palace grounds around 30 miles east of Glasgow. This 15th-century royal palace overlooking a freshwater loch is a marriage of history and natural beauty.
In addition to its historical appeal, Linlithgow Loch offers plentiful activities like angling, wildfowling, and leisurely walks. You could toss in a line and catch some perch or pike, or simply pull out your camera for some splendid bird watching and photography.
The palace grounds typically open around 10 a.m., and there’s a small entry fee for the palace. Plenty of parking spaces are available near the palace grounds, but they can fill up quickly during the summer, so keep your eyes peeled!
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Next is the breathtaking Loch Katrine, tucked away amidst the scenic Trossachs National Park, about 34 miles northwest of Glasgow. Access to this stunning haven is a smooth journey, making it a choice destination for Glaswegians and visitors alike.
From serene walks and cycling to boat trips, Loch Katrine caters to a plethora of outdoorsy tastes. Plus, be prepared to spot the occasional red deer and swooping osprey while you cycle on the 13-mile flat path encircling the loch.
Make sure to try a steamboat cruise on the legendary “Sir Walter Scott,” which is too tempting to pass up. And remember to carry some coins for the pay and display machines in the parking lot!
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Probably one of Glasgow’s best-kept secrets, Hogganfield Loch, a local nature reserve, offers a tranquil getaway without leaving the city boundaries. The loch serves as a vital haven for wildlife, especially for a spectacular variety of birds.
Whether it’s a calming walk, birdwatching, or even a spot of angling, Hogganfield Loch won’t disappoint. Also, if you’re up for it and the weather’s nice, you can grab a picnic basket and sprawl on the grass to enjoy the mesmerising view.
Parking is free and usually available near the park. Moreover, the place can get busy on weekends, making weekdays ideal for a peaceful visit.
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Nestled within Strathclyde Country Park in Motherwell, just around 16 miles away from Glasgow, Strathclyde Loch is a man-made lake that is a true crowd-pleaser. Its ample open areas, coupled with the presence of the loch itself, promise a day of fun.
Apart from providing attractive lakeside walks, the loch hosts potent attractions such as watersports (powerboating, sailing, rowing) and birdwatching opportunities. It also has a large playground for children and a fitness centre with a gym and indoor swimming pool.
There’s a good-sized parking area near the visitor centre, but it can fill up quickly on a sunny day. Also, keep in mind that some watersports might require booking in advance.
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Tucked away right within Glasgow’s West End, Bingham’s Pond combines convenience and natural charm if you need a wee bit of downtime. It offers a peaceful, scenic spot for wildlife viewing with its array of local birds like mallards, swans, and even herons.
The area is also quite popular among angling enthusiasts, fitness buffs, and those simply craving a leisurely walk amidst tranquil surroundings. Speaking of leisurely walks, the footpaths are all paved, so, no need to worry about any rogue mud splatters!
It’s free of charge and open year-round. Plus, there’s a decent-sized car park adjacent to the pond, but it does tend to fill up quickly on nice days, so plan accordingly!
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35 miles east of Glasgow is Beecraigs Loch, nestled within Beecraigs Country Park. With its spectacularly diverse wildlife and naturally beautiful setting, Beecraigs Loch is a must-visit spot around Glasgow.
Here, you can dip into a delightful range of activities, including fishing, wildlife viewing, and picnicking. Whether you fancy catching a brown trout, spotting a red-breasted nuthatch, or just lazing around with a sandwich, Beecraigs beckons you.
The park offers on-site parking for a small fee, which can get filled up during weekends and holidays. Also, plan your visit early to get a good spot, and do remember to check fishing permit requirements beforehand.
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Situated about 66 miles north of Glasgow, Loch Tay promises a unique blend of stunning beauty and exciting activities. With its striking length of 23 miles, Loch Tay not only qualifies as Scotland’s sixth-largest loch but is also touted as one of the deepest!
Here, you can enjoy a thrilling round of water skiing or kayaking, or maybe you’d prefer pitching up a tent at one of the loch-side sites for a hike on the nearby Ben Lawers. The choice is yours!
Access to the lake and parking facilities are different based on the location; however, you can find several free and fee-paying spots. Plus, sites for water sports require prior booking.
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Last, but certainly not least, is Loch Humphrey, which is over 10 miles northwest of Glasgow. It’s delightfully remote and silhouetted against the vast Scottish sky, so there’s no denying the loch’s rugged charm.
Loch Humphrey is loved by hikers, as it is reached by an uphill trek from Old Kilpatrick, offering a spectacular view that is worth the effort. The Quarry Track, though steep, leads you directly to the loch, passing through grazing Highland cattle.
The climb isn’t for the faint-hearted, so make sure you’re prepared! Parking is available at the base of the Kilpatrick Hills, but the spaces aren’t always plentiful, so bear that in mind.