WITH its stunning position by Loch Lomond, the Campsie Fells and Queen Elizabeth Forest, Drymen is a mecca for walkers and scenery buffs from across the globe.

Indeed, it’s hard to think of a spot that offers more beautiful and eclectic walking possibilities, from the short but scenic stroll over to Balmaha, to the iconic challenge of the West Highland Way.

This picturesque village has a fascinating history all of its own, too, taking in the oldest licensed pub in Scotland, Rob Roy and a romantic ruined castle, not to mention some great places to eat after a day on your feet.

Historical highlights

Situated at the lowest point of the Endrick Water, just before it flows into Loch Lomond, Drymen grew up in the 1700s as a staging post on the military route from Stirling to Dumbarton. Drymen Bridge was built in 1765.

As the Trossachs became a popular tourist spot in the 1800s – largely thanks to Sir Walter Scott – Drymen prospered, particularly after the steamer pier was opened in nearby Balmaha. Now a popular stopping-off point on the West Highland and Rob Roy ways, Drymen can feel either sleepy or buzzing, depending on the weather and season.

Buchanan Castle was built in the Scots Baronial style by the Duke of Montrose in the 1850s. The surrounding lands had been in possession of Clan Buchanan since the 13th century. Following its sale in the 1920s, the house became a hotel and golf club, and during World War Two it was requisitioned for use as a hospital. Its most famous patient was Nazi bigwig Rudolf Hess, who flew solo to Scotland in 1941 (then crash landed near Eaglesham) in a notoriously bizarre attempt to negotiate peace with the UK.

What to do

Drymen is best approached on foot, with a rucksack on your back and walking boots on your feet. My favourite route into the village is via Conic Hill, which at 351m high is one of the shortest and most accessible climbs in the area. The views across Loch Lomond, Glasgow and beyond are truly spectacular.

On arrival in Drymen grab yourself a quick refreshment – more of which later – then set out from the war memorial on a wee sightseeing tour. There’s plenty to explore and admire in compact Drymen, starting with the pretty village green. Amenity-wise there’s a cute library, post office and village shop. Go south along Main Street to the historic Parish Church, built in 1771, which stands on a site of worship believed to go back to the 11th century. Also on Main Street, the recently refurbished Village Hall hosts a full schedule of events, including a regular country market with stalls selling local arts, crafts, plants and produce. The next market day is Saturday 17 August.

At the end of May, meanwhile, the annual Drymen Show is a rural extravaganza with family fun including Clydesdale horses, Highland ponies, prize-winning cattle and sheep, helicopter rides, a pet show and craft tents.

Though now a ruin, Buchanan Castle makes for a fascinating visit. The walls remain intact, while plants and shrubs have engulfed much of the building, giving it a unique look and atmosphere. Drymen fan David Sutherland says: “Such an amazing place to walk and explore. And the grounds are beautiful.”

If you are making a weekend of it, the walking in these parts really is second to none. For a gentle stroll, follow the Endrick Water and its lovely views of the Campsie and Luss hills as far as you like. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the 14-mile stretch of the West Highland Way from Drymen to Rowardennan takes in Conic Hill, Balmaha and beautiful Sallochy Bay, with great views of the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond along the way.

Drymen is also the start of the 80-mile Rob Roy Way, which goes all the way to Pitlochry. The first stage, to Aberfoyle, takes around five hours.

After all a day of exertion, you may be in need of some rest, recuperation and pampering. If so, Lynette Cameron recommends a trip to the Haven Spa at the Buchanan Arms Hotel. “It’s popular, so you need to book ahead, but it is a fabulous place to relax with a massage or beauty treatment.”

Where to eat and drink

If it’s a breakfast roll, bagel, or waffles you’re after, Skoosh, on Main Street, is the place to go. The sandwiches, scones and paninis are also a hit, while Marie MacDonald describes the Victoria sponge as “world class”.

For something a bit more substantial, Carol Wilson recently visited The Winnock Hotel, on the Square, after walking to Drymen from Milngavie. She says: “There’s a nice patio area where you can enjoy the sun and a few beers after your walk. I had a very respectable fish supper and my friend enjoyed his Haggis pie. Very good service, too. There’s a great choice of places to eat and drink on The Square, even though it’s small.”

The nearby Drymen Inn serves generous burgers, steaks, pastas, pizzas and curries, and the bar has regular live music and a popular quiz night.

For a slice of history with your dinner, The Clachan Inn has been serving weary travellers since 1734. The first licensee was Mistress Gow, sister of the outlaw Rob Roy McGregor. With its cosy bar and real fire, extensive whisky range and great menu, it’s still a big favourite with walkers, bikers and locals. “A great place to have a dram after a good walk,” says Balloch resident Iain Baillie.

The Salmon Leap at the Buchanan Arms on the High Street, meanwhile, has a tasty offering of light bites, bar staples and steaks.

Where to stay

Romantic getaway: Ryan Wilson recommends the Drymen Inn. “A great experience all round,” he says. "Though it’s beautifully looked after, it retains a rustic feel. The Scottish décor in the rooms is a nice touch, and the atmosphere is perfect.” Rooms from £110.

Generous grounds: Lynette Cameron speaks highly of the accommodation at the Buchanan Arms. “Definitely one of my favourite places for a wee weekend away. There’s a big conservatory that gets the sun and nice walks in the garden. Directly across the road there is a walkway to the top of a hill where you can watch the sun go down.” Rooms from £81.

Intimate: Set in a red sandstone villa, the Ashbank B&B offers clean, fresh bedrooms, great breakfasts and a warm welcome.

Farm life: Alquhur is a farm cottage just a short walk from the village that sleeps four and offers stunning views over the Campsies. Definitely one for animal lovers as there are cows, sheep, horses and hens at the end of the garden. From £65 a night via Airbnb.

What to do nearby

The 80-minute walk to Balmaha is well worth it, if only to pay homage to the statue of Scots walking icon Tom Weir.You can also jump on a boat from the pier and take in a quick loop of Loch Lomond and its islands.

Just 10 minutes away by car, Glengoyne Distillery offers guided tours with a tasty dram. For special occasions, it also hosts a sumptuous private dining experience.

With its eerie rock formations and crimson waters (the result of underlying red sandstones rather than anything more sinister) Finnich Glen – or the Devil’s Pulpit – as it is known, has been attracting visitors forever. Just three miles from Drymen.

In the coming weeks I’ll be visiting Kirkcaldy, Fort William and Stromness. Send your hints and tips for things to do and places to eat, drink, shop and stay to marianne.taylor@heraldandtimes.co.uk