In Destination Helensburgh’s latest monthly column, Fiona Baker takes a look at some of the outdoor activities and attractions to enjoy in Helensburgh and Lomond as spring draws closer...


The first signs of spring are here with the annual display of snowdrops and crocus in Rhu Churchyard already on their way to another spectacular carpet of colour that lifts the spirits.

The bright and cheery daffodils at Geilston Garden will soon be in bloom and the garden re-opens on Monday, March 13. The glorious Glenarn Garden in Rhu will re-open to visitors on Tuesday, March 21, and the first rhododendrons are already starting to flower.

Also on March 21, we reach the Equinox and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the dark days of winter are behind us. Time to start enjoying more outdoor adventures!

Spending time outdoors is well-known to be a great tonic for our mental and physical wellbeing. We are lucky in Helensburgh and Lomond to have spectacular gardens open on a regular basis as well as private gardens opened for visitors under the Scotland’s Garden Scheme. In Helensburgh Hermitage Park and James Street Community Garden, and in Rhu the pocket sized Barge Garden, are always open for our enjoyment.

Apart from a gentle stroll around a beautiful garden, we have a wealth of outdoor adventures on our doorstep on land and on the water. A new Active Travel map for Helensburgh district will be launched later this year that will highlight longer walking and cycling routes in and around the town including the popular walk around Ardmore, the Yankee Road above Garelochhead and the cycling route through Glen Fruin. Helensburgh and Lomond also hosts two of Scotland’s Great Trails – the John Muir Way and the Three Lochs Way.

There are numerous other walks and cycle routes to be enjoyed, such as the forest road from Peaton Hill Community Nature Reserve on the Peninsula, the walk along the bonnie banks at the Rossdhu Gates, the West Loch Lomond cycle path, the Hidden Heritage Trail between Arrochar and Tarbet, the Highlandman’s Road or even just a stroll around Duchess Woods in the town.

We are well served with local footpaths across Helensburgh and Lomond and the Helensburgh and District Access Trust, who do a wonderful job of expanding and maintaining our paths network, has produced a handy map of the major routes that can be picked up at the Destination Helensburgh visitor centre and other outlets in the area for just £1.

For the more adventurous there is always the challenge of climbing the Munros over 3,000 feet in Helensburgh and Lomond – Ben Vane, Beinn Ime, Ben Vorlich and Beinn Narnain – or our five Corbetts (those over 2,500 feet) – Beinn a’ Choin, The Brack, Ben Donich, Beinn Luibhean or Ben Arthur, the last also known as The Cobbler.

On the water we can sail, canoe, kayak, paddleboard and windsurf. Helensburgh is the starting point of the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail and the long established Helensburgh Canoe Club is an excellent place to learn essential canoe, kayak and paddle boarding skills.

For those who enjoy the invigorating sensation of cold water there are several ‘wild swimming’ spots but please always go with a friend or group.

For mountain bikers, look up Helensburgh Trail System on Destination Helensburgh’s website to find out about all the trails in Highlandman’s Wood and on Ben Bouie. There are trails suitable for everyone across the district, from easy off-road tracks through to descents such as ‘Blood, Sweat and Beers’ that are not for the faint hearted!

To find out more about opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors, from gentle forest bathing to more extreme outdoor pursuits, and everything in between, please look at the HELLO Adventure page on the Destination Helensburgh website where there is also a listing of all the upcoming hill races, triathlons, Highland Games and cycle races coming up in the area this year.

All pictures on this story were taken for Destination Helensburgh