Arrochar and Tarbet

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Arrochar and Tarbet station is midway between the villages of Tarbet (an Tairbeart), on Loch Lomond, and Arrochar on Loch Long.  Tarbet is on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, Scotland’s largest freshwater loch by surface area. On the other side of the loch lies Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Munro. There is a hotel, a cafe/restaurant, a tearoom and a local shop in Tarbet.

Arrochar, some distance west of the station, is at the head of Loch Long which is a spectacular fjord-like sea loch. Arrochar can just be seen behind the trees on the extreme left of the picture above. There are a number of hotels and a local shop in the village. Across the loch from Arrochar are the spectacular Arrochar Alps, including Ben Arthur known from its shape as “the Cobbler”. Forest Holidays has a log cabin resort on the lochside at nearby Ardgartan.

Glasgow Queen Street to Oban passes above Loch Long, south of Arrochar & Tarbet station, December 2017.

Above Loch Long, at Morelaggan, returning empty bauxite wagons headed by Class 66, 66737.

Arrochar and Tarbet are located on either side of an isthmus which separates Loch Long, a sea loch, and Loch Lomond, a fresh water inland lake. The gap is just over 2km and the Vikings were able to haul their longboats over the narrow strip of land to access Loch Lomond and advance their invasion into the heart of the country. The West Highland Line follows this gap and passengers can enjoy the changing scene as the line swings across from high above Loch Long to Loch Lomond. The picture, above left, shows a charter train crossing the isthmus, known as the ‘Tighness Gap’. The train is just about 200m from Arrochar & Tarbet Station.

Southbound service approaching Arrochar and Tarbet Station on 22nd January 2011. Loch Lomond behind and a snowy Ben Lomond beyond.

4th November 2013 and a southbound Oban & Fort William service crosses the Craig an Arnain Viaduct north of Arrochar & Tarbet Station. This is the only concrete and masonary viaduct on the West Highland Line. Most of the line at Loch Lomond side passes through native oak forest and this is one of the few views of the train. Note the autumn colours.

A 6 coach service, the front two coaches for Oban and the rear four for Fort William and Mallaig, passes above Loch Long just south of Arrochar on 14th September 2016. The section has just had the thick stand of trees cleared to reveal the magnificant views over Loch Long. The loch is a sea loch, or fjiord, and connects to the Firth of Clyde.

Glasgow – Oban service above Loch Long, 3km south of Arrochar, passes long section cleared of trees.

A view across Loch Lomond of Inveruglas and the Loch Sloy hydro power station from Inversnaid. A service train is revealed as it passes a section cleared of trees. February 2012. (Picture Copyright N. McNab)

Arrochar and Tarbet Station is actually located above Tarbet on the west side of Loch Lomond and is an ideal location for exploring the narrow fjiord like northern section of the loch. The pier at Tarbet provides access to the loch and a variety of cruise options are available, including a ‘Water Bus‘ which allows a number of different options to explore Loch Lomond and its surroundings. A footpath  links Arrochar to Tarbet and the distance is approximately 1.5miles (A local bus service is available but only runs on school days so is not a practical solution at weekends of during the summer holidays). The walk is easy and provides for interesting views as it crosses the isthmus or narrow neck of land between Loch Lomond and Loch Long. In fact Tarbet is the Gaelic word for such a narrow neck of land.


The Cobbler

Arrochar is a popular location for hill walkers and climbers as it is located at the entrance to the Argyll Forest Park and provides excellent access to the popular mountains,  frequently referred to as the ‘Arrochar Alps’. The most spectacular, Ben Arthur, or ‘The Cobbler’ has a prominent position above the village, and is the first objective for many visitors to the area. However Ben Arthur is just one of many, including the highest, Ben Ime. The mountains, albeit relatively low in height, are potentially dangerous, particularly in winter with snow and ice and should only be climbed by those experienced and and properly equipped. The Forest Park also provides many opportunities for walking and mountain biking.