CAMERON & CLYDE
9th February 2023
The jewel in Loch Lomond’s crown, Cameron House is back, more magnificent than ever – a bolthole as well as springboard for high-octane japes that take in the region’s spectacular sea lochs. Words by Alex Doak.
It’s been just over a year since Cameron House reopened on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond. Careful and sensitive restoration work on the 1830 ‘baronial’ style stone castle has furnished the hotel’s peaked gables and decorative turrets with a magnificent new grand foyer, a library bedecked in neo-gothic ‘Timorous Beasties’ wallpaper, plus a brand-new Lobby Bar boasting a grand marble-top bar.
And that’s before you’ve peeked behind closed doors upstairs: a beautiful, 14-strong suite of suites – named after Cameron House’s local adage ’The Auld House’ – all having benefitted from a luscious, maximalist makeover. Johnstons of Elgin, no less, developed a bespoke tartan for the cashmere throws, its colours inspired by the heather-dappled glens in the distance (the suites’ crowning feature remaining original, of course: their windows’ sweeping views across Loch Lomond).
Nestled in the heart of the Trossachs National Park, the hotel is an escape like no other, even for locals. Not only does it feel a million miles from civilisation, but it is a luxurious ecosystem – ‘nestled’ being the operative word. A completely remodelled Cameron Leisure Club and Tavern Bar constitute the wider Cameron House ‘Resort’, also home to an award-winning spa complete with a rooftop infinity pool, an 18-hole championship golf course, 4×4 off-road adventures, falconry experiences, even a 234-berth marina for goodness sake (we recommend an opulent champagne cruise aboard Celtic Warrior).
With the majesty of the Highlands literally on your doorstep, and all around, you need never stray. But regular readers of ROX magazine know that these pages are in the business of urging you to hop back in the car and explore the further reaches of Scotland’s unbridled scenery.
To wit: the Clyde Sea Lochs Trail, all 65 miles of it signposted rather helpfully by the Scottish tourism board. It takes you into the heart of the coastal communities to the southwest of Loch Lomond, starting in Dumbarton and ending north in Arrochar, with plenty of opportunities to explore, or gaze slackjawed into the distance, between.
If you can bear to pause, just seven miles after leaving Cameron House and on the threshold of the A814’s widescreen vista, Dumbarton Castle is a broody, blasted waypoint – sat high on a volcanic plug overlooking the River Clyde. There are 500 steps to the top, but the views are well worth the climb.
Through Cardross’s 17th-century village, you reach Ardmore Point: a great spot to capture striking panoramic views of Gare Loch and the River Clyde. Bring binoculars, as there’s excellent seal and birdwatching to be had, too. Or simply drive straight through and onward, to explore the Victorian streets of Helensburgh instead. Its seaside promenade and wide tree-lined streets offer a host of cafés and restaurants if it’s that time of day. The Scottish Submarine Centre is a good distraction for the kids, if you’ve brought them.
If not, get some proper Scottish culture at the magnificent Hill House. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, it’s considered his finest domestic masterpiece: an exuberance of arts and crafts, art nouveau, Scottish baronial and Japonisme, with a peaceful wander around the beautifully restored garden into the bargain.
The fjord-like Gare Loch is next on the trail, stretching 10km out to join the River Clyde, with a pretty 1820s village resort perched on its shores. Admire the iron-clads of Clyde Naval Base from ‘Haul Road’ viewpoint, before heading to the picnic spot at Whistlefield with more picture-perfect views to enjoy.
Rosneath Peninsula and Kilcreggan woodland next, finishing with a thrilling, undulating blast along the coast-hugging A814, north to Arrochar. A great spot for exploring further on foot, take to the rugged Three Lochs Way (starting in Balloch), the Loch Lomond & Cowal Way or Ben Arthur, also known as ‘The Cobbler’.
Or, you know, just park up and go for a stroll. The scenery never lets up.
Yes, it’s another mid-sized luxury SUV, but why have a Macan, Stelvio or Urus when you can proudly – and very enjoyably – fly the three-pronged flag of Modena’s finest? Maserati has always been the leftfield, thinking man’s performance marque: Italian design flair, but with restraint, serving to not only keep you cool (rather than try-hard) but also belie seriously racy goings-on beneath the bonnet. Sure enough, the Grecale is all these things, once you’ve got over the fact that Maserati just had to enter this market, whether true to its circuit-proven heritage or not. There’s plenty of space inside as you’d expect, but the outer styling is lithe and ready to pounce. Of the three versions, we’re of course going to lean to the ‘Trofeo’, over the GT and Modena: a de-tuned version of the MC20 supercar’s ‘Nettuno’ 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, with 530bhp getting you to 62mph in just 3.8 seconds, as that final A814 stretch to Arrochar demands.
Together at last! TAG Heuer of Carrera chronograph fame and Porsche of Carrera 911 fame finally tie the knot, in a horological car-llaboration running deeper and faster than most.
Fill up the tank, pack plenty of warm jumpers, and hit these long and blinding roads..