We don’t often get heatwaves in Scotland but when we do — boy, do we lose our shit. There are queues outside the local ice cream shops, even the most sallow skinned of us Scots end up burnt and most men in the vicinity are sporting ‘taps aff’ fashion (even though for us, a heatwave is about 18 degrees). You gotta love Scotland.
Based in Glasgow and looking to make the most of the sun?
Jump in the car or on the train and head west towards the Loch Lomond and Trossachs area of Scotland. Even though it’s just a short journey from the country’s biggest city, you’ll feel like you’re on holiday. Plus — nae stress — I’ve made sure there’s an ice cream supply at every stop. Enjoy!
Balmaha, East Loch Lomond
Sitting at the foot of Ben Lomond and Conic Hill, Balmaha village is a safe haven for hillwalkers taking on the West Highland Way. But over the last few years it’s also become a fashionable countryside escape, thanks to the unstoppable expansion of the Oak Tree Inn. Along with their holiday cottage empire, the owners recently added St Mocha Coffee Shop to their books. You might not think much of hot tea on a summer’s day, but St Mocha also offers a variety of homemade ice creams to cool your fevered brow. A scoop of Banoffee or Snickers, anyone? You’ll be quick-marching the trails to burn off those tasty calories.
Ardmore Point, near Helensburgh
If you like sea breezes and watching boats slide past, this might be the place for you. Ardmore is a tiny peninsula that juts out into the Clyde estuary, facing the coastal towns of Dunoon and Helensburgh. Park just off the A814 and there is a short, circular walk around the point, parts of which overflow with bright yellow blooms. It’s muddier near the northern rocky outcrop, where you can watch cruise ships and submarines make their way along the Clyde. Nearby, sustenance awaits at Ardardan Estate, a two-minute drive from the point’s car park. There are gardens, a tearoom and shop which is stocked with multiple stomach fillers including Walls ice lollies and the famous East Lothian Luca’s ice cream.
Loch Lomond Shores, Balloch
This may not be the most original addition to an ‘escapist’ post, but my goodness isn’t it pretty! Although the Lomond Shores shopping outlet is quieter than when it first opened, it still offers a good base for further trails around the southern edge of the loch. There is free parking near the entrance, where the shops face onto a man-made inlet as pedalos circle in the shadow of Ben Lomond. We grabbed an ice cream at the small newsagents before following the path into Balloch Country Park. With a good old fashioned Twister for company, you’ll soon forget you’re ten minutes from a bustling Scottish town. The castle now lies derelict; the park’s blooming plants pushing away the echoes of Oasis, Runrig and R.E.M., who all played here in the 90s.