Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, which stretches for 720 square miles and lies within an hour's drive of Scotland's two biggest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, has added the final installation of its four architecturally designed viewpoints for visitors to enjoy its iconic landscapes of lochs, mountains, forests and glens in a new way.
Launched by Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, ‘An Ceann Mòr' - Gaelic meaning large headland - is the fourth and final installation in the National Park as part of Scotland's £1.5million Scenic Routes pilot project, which aims to encourage visitors travelling along the country's tourist routes to stop and see views.
The eight-metre high, pyramid-shaped structure occupies a secluded spot at Inveruglas on the east bank of Loch Lomond, with spectacular views down the loch and over to the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond in the middle distance. With 31 steps, the iconic landmark offers elevated views and there is also a tunnel through the centre of the pyramid that opens up to reveal the same vista.
Designs for An Ceann Mòr were among 100 entries submitted to an architectural competition to find young architects, practicing for up to five years, to create four distinct installations in four geographically spread locations around Scotland's first National Park.
The other three viewpoints were realised in 2014 at the thundering Falls of Falloch, Balquihidder in the heart of Rob Roy country and Loch Lubnaig near Strathyre.
The next stage of the Scottish Scenic Routes pilot, which is already underway, will see installations added in Scotland's other National Park - Cairngorms - and at sites across Scotland identified by Scottish Canals.
An Ceann Mòr joins ‘Woven Sound' at Falls of Falloch, ‘LookOut' at Balquihidder and ‘Sloc nan Sìtheanach' (‘Faerie Hollow') at Loch Lubnaig.
Other new developments
Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park has also expanded its waterbus services, meaning there are further opportunities for ‘boat and bike' experiences. Balloch train station - only 50 minutes by train from Glasgow - is the southern gateway to the National Park. Visitors can hire bikes at Loch Lomond Shores, cycle 11 miles along the Cycle Path that follows the length of Loch Lomond to the picturesque village of Luss and take the waterbus back from there to Balloch.
The waterbus also opens up new options for walkers. A new service between Ardlui and Ardleish provides new access points to the West Highland Way. In addition, there's increased frequency of the service between Luss and Balmaha with Conic Hill, the Millennium Trail, Hidden Treasures Path and the West Highland Way - all popular walking options - or from Luss take a waterbus trip to Inchcailloch one of the many islands on Loch Lomond.
For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, cruises depart regularly for the first time from Loch Lomond Shores. Loch Lomond Shores also offers shops, cafés, restaurants and attractions including a Sea Life Centre, Bird of Prey Centre and new TreeZone Aerial Adventure Course. It is also the setting for the Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festival between 5 - 6 September.