I previously wrote about Loch Lomond Faerie Trail in 2019 as part of a series of Free Activities for Toddlers. However the whole thing has had a revamp for 2021 and so of course we had to visit to find out what’s new or different, and whether it’s worth the price tag.
Based in and around the lochside village of Luss, Loch Lomond Faerie Trail is situated, as you might expect, on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond, Scotland. Luss itself is a picturesque wee village which is a tourist hotspot, so be warned it can get particularly busy on a summer’s day. So much so that you might struggle for parking depending on when you plan to visit.
The Faerie Trail opened in mid-2018, before Travis had even turned one. We didn’t initially visit until 2019 but have frequented the trail quite regularly over the last couple of years (pandemics permitting). The great thing about the initial trail is it never got boring with a toddler – they would always spot something new or find a different part to be interested in. Also, the company were really good at switching up the trail for seasonal or themed events such as Halloween and Christmas.
So it came as a bit of a surprise to us when we seen Loch Lomond Faerie Trail advertising what appeared to be a new trail – or at the very least some new additions to the trail. Three years was a good run to get out of their trail, but given there’s been a global pandemic and people aren’t meant to be travelling, you would have forgiven them for eeking another few years out of the same route. However they are clearly not ones for resting on their laurels, with social media adverts promising more new and interactive points for children to explore.
Whereas previously the trail cost us £3 per adult to take part in, and free for Travis as he was under the pay threshold (kids 3+), the new trail costs £4 per adult and £5 per child (over 2). Within the cost price is an activity booklet, containing the trail map and the activities to complete along the way (each trail has its own theme and activities/answers to complete at each stop point – the current theme is The Missing Letter) along with a completion certificate, pencil and Loch Lomond Faerie Trail band.
Previously the ticket also included faerie dust to sprinkle along the trail, but this time it wasn’t included. We bought 2 sets of dust for our journey and were charged £20.90 all in so can only assume that faerie dust costs £3.95 each, which had we known the price at the time (it’s not labelled anywhere in the little hut) we probably wouldn’t have paid – especially when we had some from the Christmas faerie trail at home! To me that’s not good value having the glitter at the same price as an adult’s ticket for one small tube.
We definitely got the most use out of the booklet this time round as Travis was a bit older and a bit more patient in listening to the rhymes at the stop points and trying to answer some questions. However it’s probably not necessary to give a booklet out per person – we end up with 3 each time we go which seems a bit excessive as we only ever use the one!
We were advised that the trail was about 2 miles long, though a little longer than the previous trail with more added in, which again was the perfect length for us to take Travis at his age. Two miles is quite a distance to go on little legs but there are a few rest points along the second half of the trail to stop for snacks. We could complete the previous trail in about 1-1.5 hours depending on rest/snack stops and attention span. However the new trail took us a little over 2 hours (warning for those paying for Luss car parking) as there’s more interactivity. I’d probably advise a bit more time on top of this as it wasn’t busy when we went, but covid/distancing may mean it takes longer for your little ones to enjoy everything. We also didn’t wait in the queue at Luss General Store at the end of the trail like advised (it was queued down the street and our little one needed a wee!) so a more realistic time frame might be 2.5 hours minimum and more if you intend to stop for lunch or visit the shop.
What to expect
The trail takes you over and under a main road, through a glen and back down again, so be prepared in terms of footwear and weather. There are a few more steep points than the original trail, with steps you climb to go up to the overpass to get started and a new section which takes you down into an old quarry via a stony/shale-y path. Coming out of the quarry is another quite steep climb to the next stop, again with stone/shale so be careful with your footing. The new trail is definitely not suitable for buggy/prams (even all terrain ones) and I’d advise caution when taking a smaller child in a carrier.
That being said, expect a lot of magic and wonder, as the organisers of this trail really have upped their game with the new additions. Although most of the little faerie doors are gone (not sure if this is from the trail or vandalism) the original great faerie houses such as the faerie travel centre have simply moved home to the new trail, with a few such as the tooth fairy and fairy godmother still in the same place. The new trail has more interactive experiences and photo opps along the way, where your child can walk through a faerie house, go to faerie school or pose with some of the giant faerie sculptures. There’s even a metal selfie frame halfway along the trail where all the family can snap a memory. I don’t want to ruin the magic of the trail – particularly the new stops – but it’s certainly not a boring trail, and even just from the hillwalking point of view, there’s loads of beautiful scenery, with stunning views of Ben Lomond, animals wandering around in nearby farming fields and more.
One thing I would suggest is bringing along some coppers, as there are a lot of pennies – as well as glitter – at some of the faerie doors and your little one might want to place their own and make a wish.
Unlikely Mum verdict
Although there has been a big change in the set-up, I would definitely recommend this activity for toddler mums. It’s not too expensive for adults and it fills up most of your morning or afternoon. With 14 stops along the way, it’s certainly enough to keep little brains (and adult ones!) engaged without getting distracted, and I have to say the organisers have thought of everything. Even if you have been to the trail before, I’d recommend trying out the new trail as it’s definitely a step up from the old one.
It should be noted though, that the new part of the trail is completely fenced off from the old one, and the old faerie houses along that section have been removed or moved home, so you are no longer able to walk the whole trail for free as its not part of the public access route. You can still follow the old path for a nice walk, but you won’t find any faeries or the stops until you cross the river/burn and head back down towards Luss. I understand why they have done this (it’s a lot of effort for people to take in for free!) but it’s obviously a big change that local people and frequent visitors will notice. Additionally, the new section isn’t as accessible as the old trail – buggies/prams/wheelchairs etc would struggle to get through the stony/shale parts and some of the inclines and declines are quite steep (I’m quite fit but at 8 months pregnant found it hard to climb the hill to the fairy castle) so might not be ideal for some people.
- Price – £4 adults, £5 for 3+ and infants/toddlers free* (£1 increase on previous trail price)
- Pushchair friendly – no, but it might be possible with a baby carrier depending how confident you are
- Length – just over 2 miles walk or about 2-2.5 hours to complete
- Additions/extras – includes a map and activity book, completion certificate and trail wristband. Plus you can buy glitter (bring your own, it’s expensive) and faerie memorabilia before you go, or visit the gift shop at the end
- Parking – Use the main car park in Luss if you don’t want a £30 parking fine. Parking isn’t expensive (£1 per hour) but I’d advise going for 3 hours as the trail takes a little more than 2 hours to complete.
*Although there’s a charge for adults and older kids, you could revisit the second half of the walk again at any point without paying (as long as you know the route!)