The three villages of Arrochar, Tarbet and Succoth are situated within the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, at the gateway to the Argyll Forest Park, and at the foot of the Arrochar Alps, in an area rich with spectacular views and scenery.
Succoth and Arrochar lie nestled below the mountains at the head of Loch Long, a sea loch that cuts deep into the heart of the National Park. From Arrochar, it’s just a short distance across the isthmus (following the route once taken by the Vikings) to Tarbet, situated on the shores of Scotland’s largest freshwater loch, Loch Lomond.
The area’s dramatic scenery is largely thanks to its position just north of the Highland Boundary Fault, created hundreds of millions of years ago when the harder rocks from the north collided with the softer rocks from the south, leaving the three villages officially in ‘The Highlands’. These hard rocks have been further shaped by wind, rain and glaciers to produce the stunning mix of mountains, lochs and waterfalls that characterise the area today.
The area’s unique position makes it an ideal stop for climbers and walkers keen to explore the stunning mountains or gentle forestry trails, for divers who come to explore the underwater caves in Loch Long, and for anyone who loves ‘messing about in boats’, as well as for those happy to just sit and admire some of the best views in Scotland.
The positions of the villages provide easy access south to Glasgow, west to Oban and its ferry connections to the isles, and north to Glencoe and Fort William.
The picturesque West Highland village of Arrochar has a rich heritage, as well as spectacular surroundings. The name Arrochar is believed to come from a Gaelic and Irish corruption of the Latin word aratrum, or plough and carrucate which was a measure of land between 100 and 160 acres, representing the land which could be worked by one plough team in a year.
Arrochar was the traditional seat of the clan MacFarlane, infamous as cattle thieves, but also known as heroic defenders of their royal family. However, when the MacFarlanes fell on hard times,their lands were eventually sold to the neighbouring Colquhouns. The chief's home at Invereoch was renamed Arrochar House and now forms part of the Claymore Hotel.
Four hotels, several self-catering establishments, and many bed and breakfast businesses are indicative of the area's attraction to visitors, who are drawn to the area by its spectacular scenery, to enjoy climbing and walking in the hills, taking to the water in kayaks or leisure boats, and to explore the rich natural and cultural heritage of the area. The close proximity to Glasgow, Stirling and Oban, with ease of access to the Western Isles, marks Arrochar as a hub for visitors to the area.
Facilities in the village include a petrol station with a snack bar, a post office and newsagents, a pottery and craft gallery, three licensed grocers, and a model shop and greengrocers. The 3 Villages Cafe adjacent to the Hall offers sit-in and takeaway options, while the Village Inn has well renowned bar and restaurant facilities, and Ben Arthur's Bothy offers a lively atmosphere and good local 'craic'. The Church of Scotland Arrochar Parish Church has services every Sunday at 10am, while the Roman Catholic Chapel of St Peter and Paul has services at 8.30am between Easter and October and 12.30pm from October until Easter.
A popular tourist destination for many years, Queen Victoria described Tarbet as "a small town with splendid passes, richly wooded and the highest mountains rising behind". Little has changed and today's visitors can easily see what captivated those early travellers.
Tarbet, from the gaelic An Tairbeart meaning an isthmus, sits appropriately at one end of an isthmus that separates Loch Long and Loch Lomond by just two miles. In July 1263, King Hakon Hakonsson IV of Norway's Viking fleet linked up with the forces of King Magnus III of Man and King Dubhghall mac Rhuaidhri of the Hebrides to send a fleet of 60 longships up Loch Long to land at Arrochar. They dragged their longships the two miles across to Tarbet on Loch Lomond, from where they sailed south to ravage the countryside as far as Stirling.
Situated on the banks of the world famous Loch Lomond and dominated by views across to Ben Lomond, Tarbet offers the opportunity to catch a passenger ferry to explore the rest of the loch and to view the exceptional scenery from the water. An hotel and several bed and breakfast businesses cater for visitors to the area, as does the Tarbet Tea Room. Tarbet also has a Post Office and seasonal Tourist Information Centre.
The scenic West Highland Railway runs through the villages, with a station at Tarbet (Arrochar & Tarbet), from where trains carry passengers to and from destinations including London, Glasgow, Fort William, Mallaig and Oban.
Arrochar Primary School and nursery serve Arrochar, Tarbet, Succoth and the surrounding area, and are located (a little confusingly) in Tarbet, on the shores of Loch Lomond.
Succoth is nestled beneath the Cobbler and Arrochar Alps, at the head of Loch Long. Now a largely residential area with excellent access to walking in Glen Loin and to the Arrochar Alps, it was once farming land, and has several points of interest.
The Shire Bridge forms the historical boundary between the counties of Dunbartonshire and Argyllshire. A carved plaque embedded in the centre of the north parapet records the fact that to the west lies Argyll and to the east, Dunbartonshire. Remains of an earlier bridge can be seen to the north of the present one. Dippers can frequently be seen under the bridge, their white breasts and characteristic bobbing motion betraying their presence.
Part of the Cowal Way and Three Lochs Way takes you from Arrochar northwards along the east side of Glen Loin. Hidden on the hillside among the woodland is the site of ancient iron workings, and the nearby 'Red Well', reputed to have healing properties; those seeking a cure obtained nails from the village blacksmith to drive into a tree near the well.
On the opposite bank of the River Loin a steep track leads you to the entrance to the Glen Loin Caves. Legend has it that Robert the Bruce hid here following his army's defeat at the Battle of Methven in 1306. The caves also proved a suitable hiding place for MacFarlane clansmen, who reputedly hid in the caves and ambushed unwary drovers as they brought their cattle down the glen. The Forestry Cottages were built in the 1950s. To celebrate the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, the estate was to be laid out in the shape of her monogram 'ER'; however, the houses forming the letter E were never built, explaining the unconventional layout of the roads, best viewed from the hillsides. Between the Forestry Cottages and the head of Loch Long is a field known as the Camping Field. Whole families from Glasgow would move here for the summer and live in big canvas tents with cast-iron stoves for heating and cooking. The local policeman was kept busy, mostly at weekends, sorting out disputes. The ruins of two toilet blocks are all that remain of this former campsite.
The strategic location of the three villages has shaped the history of the area for thousands of years.
Loch Long penetrates deep into the mountains, providing easy access from the sea for people wishing to settle or trade, as well as for those with less peaceful intentions. In 1263, followers of the Norwegian King Haco pulled their boats out at Arrochar and across the isthmus to Loch Lomond, from where they sailed south to plunder the settlements around Loch Lomond. The name Tarbet is derived from the gaelic, An Tairbeart, meaning an isthmus.
The lands around Arrochar traditionally belonged to the MacFarlane clan from 1225, when the then Earl of Lennox granted them to his son, Gilchrist. The area near Ballyhennan Church in Tarbet is believed to have been the site of a ‘confrontation’ between the MacFarlanes and Haco’s Vikings, though the exact site has not yet been identified. In 1785, the MacFarlanes were forced to sell their lands to help pay their debts, and today, most of the land around the three villages is owned by Sir Malcolm Colquhoun of Luss and managed by Luss Estates.
The MacFarlanes had a reputation – rightly or wrongly – as enthusiastic cattle rustlers, who would hide their booty in the mountains near Loch Sloy in the dead of night, hence the clan's battle cry of 'Loch Sloy!' and the local name for the moon of 'MacFarlane's lantern'.However, the villages also saw signs of more peaceful cattle trading, with busy droving routes passing through Arrochar, Tarbet and Succoth from the west and around the head of Loch Long, aiming for the cattle fairs, or 'trysts', at Falkirk and Dumbarton. These traditional routes were later exploited by General Wade and his colleagues who were charged with building a road system throughout the Highlands to allow the easy movement of English troops, following the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite army at Culloden in 1745.
Access to the area in the Victorian era became easier with the building of the West Highland Railway line in the 1890s, though this ‘progress’ came at a price: a total of 37 navvies died near Arrochar, Tarbet or Ardlui during the construction of the railway, and are now commemorated by a memorial in Ballyhennan graveyard.
The Victorian era also saw a steady stream of paddle steamers bringing visitors up Loch Long from Glasgow to Arrochar, from where they could visit the local hotels, or travel across to Tarbet to catch another steamer to explore the scenery of the world famous Loch Lomond. Loch Long has influenced local fortunes further, once part of a thriving herring-fishing industry, and more recently, as the site of a torpedo-testing range, closed in 1986.
The spectacular mountain scenery that today attracts visitors from far and wide also has more practical applications. The UK’s largest conventional hydroelectric power station was built at Sloy, near Ardlui, and opened in 1950. The building of a dam to create the power station’s reservoir resulted in the deserted settlement at Loch Sloy disappearing underwater forever. The same mountains that provided the water to fuel the Sloy power station also provided an ideal site for the Forestry Commission to use for its plantations, while their proximity to Glasgow meant that the 'Arrochar Alps' played a key role in the development of the Scottish Mountaineering Club.
The hillsides around Loch Long and Loch Lomond bear testament to the many, small communities that used to live here. A few tumbled walls are now all that remain of settlements such as High Morlaggan, Stuc na Cloich, and Tyvechtican, whose inhabitants abandoned their cottages and self-sufficient lifestyles in favour of towns and cities, or to travel to America or Australia. The descendants of many of these still live in the villages, and play an active role in uncovering the facts about their ancestors' way of life.
The villages of Arrochar, Tarbet, Succoth and nearby Ardlui have a thriving and active heritage community. For lots more information about the local heritage, visit Arrochar Heritage, High Morlaggan, or Hidden Heritage.
Whether a quiet walk along the shore, an ambitious hike up the mountains, or a sail on the loch, you can be sure to catch a glimpse of some of the area’s fascinating wildlife that benefits from the wide range of habitats; from the sea and shore of Loch Long, to the freshwater and woodland of Loch Lomond, and the mountain tops of the Arrochar Alps.
The fjord-like Loch Long extends from the Firth of Clyde to the villages of Arrochar and Succoth, and is home to a wide range of fish, including cod and mackerel, which in turn attract the birds and mammals that feed on them. Gannets can regularly be seen diving for fish, while grey seals are also a common sight. Pilot whales, porpoises and dolphins are less common, but welcome visitors, and even a rare humpback whale has been known to put in an appearance. Flocks of smart black and white eider ducks are frequently seen in the loch, where they dive deep to collect mussels from the sea bed. The old pier in Arrochar is a haven for gulls and cormorants, and for the striking oystercatchers, who are more than happy to make their presence heard.
The freshwater Loch Lomond is home to an abundance of salmon and sea trout, as well as to the rare powan, a species of fish found only in Loch Lomond and nearby Loch Eck, where the species became stranded after the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age. Gulls and cormorants nest on some of the many islands in the loch, but are under threat from feral mink that eat their eggs and chicks. The mink should not be mistaken for the larger, native otter, which is now making a welcome return to the shores of both Loch Lomond and Loch Long. Ospreys now also nest around Loch Lomond, and the stunning site of an osprey snatching a fish from the water is one never to be forgotten.
The mountains and crags provide ideal retreats for the spectacular golden eagle, which can be seen gliding high on the sky line – not to be confused with the smaller and much more common buzzard. Ravens and peregrines frequent the crags, while red grouse and ptarmigan live on the slopes. Red deer are common and herds are frequently seen on the hillsides. In autumn when the stags are rutting, their calls can be heard over long distances as they echo off the surrounding hills. Red deer and their smaller cousins roe deer, which live nearer sea level, are beautiful but often unwelcome visitors to local gardens, where they can easily eat an entire season’s vegetables in a single night!
The woodlands around the villages form the front line in the current ‘squirrel wars’, with both native reds and introduced greys vying for control. Red squirrels prefer to feed in conifer woods, while the larger greys frequent the deciduous oak woods. In other places where they come in contact, grey squirrels have been found to take over from reds. Although competition for food, loss of suitable habitat, and transmission of disease by grey squirrels have all been proposed as possible causes, the real reason remains unknown.
The elusive pine marten also appears to be on the increase in the area, with increasing sightings around the Tarbet area. These normally shy, nocturnal creatures can be attracted into gardens by peanuts left out for the birds, which also provide a delicacy for local badgers.
Directions: Arrochar, Tarbet, and Succoth can be found around the junction of the A83 and A82 trunk roads.
SAT NAV post code for Tigh-Na-Gare, Arrochar: G83 7AA
The Trossachs, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Oban and the Isles are all within touring distance.
Glasgow International Airport 40 minutes drive
Glasgow City Centre 50 minutes drive
Arrochar & Tarbet Station 1.5 miles (with direct overnight sleeper service from London)
Arrochar Citylink Bus Stop 1 miles
Citylink buses stop in Tarbet and Arrochar on their routes between Glasgow and Oban or Campbeltown. They also stop in Tarbet on their routes between Glasgow and Fort William and Skye. Click here for timetables.
Arrochar and Tarbet station is served by Scotrail trains travelling on the beautiful West Highland Line between Glasgow and Oban or Fort William and Mallaig. Click here for timetables.
The Caledonian sleeper train stops at Arrochar and Tarbet station on its daily journey between Inverness and London. Click here for timetables.
A local bus service provided by Garelochhead Coaches serves Carrick Castle, Succoth, Arrochar, Tarbet, Luss and Helensburgh, from where you can catch trains to Glasgow. Click here for eimetables.
The local area is teeming with things to do for all ages and all interests.
For just a very few ideas:
Loch Long: Fishing, paddling, sea-kayaking, canoeing, pottery and craft gallery, children's playpark, diving. Click here to read an article about diving in Loch Long.
The Arrochar Alps: The Cobbler and four Munros accessible on foot from the centre of Arrochar, guided mountain treks, bushcraft and survival eco adventures.
Ardgarten (5 minutes drive): Low level walks, forest trails, mountain bike trails, guided trail biking.
Loch Lomond: Beaches, open canoeing and kayaking, paddling and swimming, cruises, fishing, seaplane rides, spa days at local hotels.
Lomond Shores, Balloch (25 minutes): Shopping, restaurants, play park, canoe, bike and pedal boat hire.
Luss (15 minutes): Picturesque conservation village with beaches, easy walks, good coffee shop, and speed boat trips.
Loch Fyne (15 minutes): Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, tree house walk, Fyne Ales brewery, Ardkinglas Gardens, Tree Shop garden centre and gift shop.
Cowal Peninsula and Dunoon (40 minutes): Benmore Botanic Gardens, Pucks Glen walks, restaurant
Strachur and Strathlachlan (approx. 35 minutes): Renowned Creggans Inn and Inver Cottage restaurant, Strathlachlan ruined castle.
Inveraray (25 minutes): Inveraray Castle (home of the Duke of Argyll, head of the Clan Campbell), Inveraray Jail, Loch Fyne Hotel with swimming pool, Inveraray Golf Course, walks, The George pub and restaurant.
Helensburgh (25 minutes): Charles Rennie Macintosh's famous Hill House, swimming pool, restaurants, supermarkets, sea front promenade, ferries to Dunoon and beyond.
Dumbarton (30 minutes) historic Dumbarton Castle and the Scottish Maritime Museum.
Balmaha (40 minutes): play park, forest walks, access to the West Highland Way, beach, Oak Tree Inn.
Glencoe Ski and Mountain Bike Centre (45 minutes): Ski slopes with ski hire and lessons, downhill mountain bike courses.
Bute (40 minutes plus 5 minutes by ferry): Mount Stuart house, gardens and restaurant, standing stones, beaches.
Oban (1 hr 10 minutes): Restaurants, sailing, seal-watching boat trips, ferries to the islands.
Glasgow (45 minutes): Museum of Modern Art, Kelvingrove Museum, the Transport Museum, The Burrell Collection, Science Centre, restaurants, Princes Square shopping mall, Botanic Gardens (and much more).
Arrochar, Tarbet and the surrounding areas are well supplied with places to dine with menus to suit many tastes and budgets.
The Village Inn, Arrochar: A well renowned traditional bar and restaurant serving good food and a variety of local ales. Telephone: 01301 702 279.
The Slanj, Tarbet: just a short walk to Tarbet, where you will find good quality food at reasonable prices. recently under new management and now has live music/bands at weekends.
Inverbeg Inn, Inverbeg: Standing on the banks of Loch Lomond, The Inverbeg Inn serves good food all day. Telephone: 01436 860 678.
Rustlers Restaurant & Bar, Tarbet: Traditional restaurant with a wide range of dishes ranging from typical Scottish classics to British favourites. Telephone: 01301 702 763.
The 3 Villages Cafe: Serves good traditional food all day. Take away kiosk serves bacon butties, pizzas and chips. Telephone: 01301 702570
Arrochar Tearoom: Opening hours: Thu to Tue: 10am - close. Telephone: 07585709772
Tarbet Tearoom: Open 7 days. Winter opening hours: 8.30 -4 pm. Breakfasts, filled rolls, teas, coffees, amazing home baking. Telephone: 01301 702200
Fish & Chip Shop, Arrochar: Telephone: 01301 702999
Ben Arthur's Bothy, Arrochar: 01301 702347
The Drovers Inn, Inverarnan: Telephone: 01301 704234.
The Stagecoach Inn, Cairndow: One of the oldest coaching inns in the Highlands, with old world charm, beamed ceiling, and beautiful views over Loch Fyne. 01499 600286.
Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, Clachan: Exceptional sea food in a wonderful setting overlooking Loch Fyne. Telephone: 01499 600236.
It is wise to check availability and book in advance especially in high season. Some restaurants may have limited opening hours out of season.
Please find below a list of some of the shops and services in the Three Villages:
Teighness Stores: Opening hours: Mon to Sat: 8am – 7pm, Sun: 10am – 6pm. Telephone: 01301 702256. Braeside Stores, Newsagent and Post Office: Opening hours: Mon to Fri: 6.30am – 10pm, Sat & Sun: 7am – 10pm. Telephone: 01301 702304.
Mansefield Studios: Pottery & Craft Gallery. Telephone: 01301 702956 or 07958 771106 website Post Office at Braeside Stores: Counter opening hours: Mon to Fri: 9am – 1pm, 2pm – 5.30pm, (except Wednesday: 9am – 1pm only), Sat: 9am – 12.30pm, Sun: closed. Telephone: 01301 702127. Fynest Fish, Fruit & Veg: Visits villages on Friday mornings. Contact Robert McCulloch. Telephone: 07880 718 000
Village Shop: Opening hours: Mon, Tues, Thu, Fri: 7am - 6pm, Wed & Sat: 7am - 7.30pm, Sun: 8 - 12 noon. Telephone: 01301 702221.
Arrochar Tearoom: Opening hours: Thu to Tue: 10am - close. Telephone: 07585 709772.
Petrol Station: Opening hours: Mon to Sat: 9am – 6pm.
Tarbet Post Office: Opening hours: Mon to Fri: 9am - 1pm.
Bank: The Royal Bank of Scotland Mobile Branch visits at the following times: Tarbet Pier car park: Wednesdays from 10.15am - 10.45am. Three Villages Hall, Arrochar: Wednesdays from 2.30pm - 2.50pm and Thursdays from 1.15pm - 2.50pm.
Doctor's Surgery Kirkfield Place, Arrochar: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, from 8am - 6pm. Wednesday 8am - 12 noon. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Fire – 999
Police – 999 emergency or 101
Ambulance – 999 or call nhs 24
Nhs 24 - 111 - for medical attention or advice.