Loch Lomond ( East and South shores )
Loch Lomond Travel Blog› entry 3 of 9 › view all entries
As part of my introduction to my home city, I did mention the fact that, from the part of the city where I live, Loch Lomond is just 20 minutes away, and that I hadn't been up there for the best part of 10 years. Today I decided to rectify that.
The loch was originally known as Loch Leamhna ( from the Scots Gaelic 'Leamhain' meaning Elm Water). It is just over 20 miles in length, and it's width goes from 0.75miles to 5 miles at various points and goes to a depth of 636 ft . The loch is full of little islands, some of which can be accesed by boat tours.
Loch Lomond lies on the boundary fault between the Central Lowlands and the Southern Highlands, and there is occasional seismic activity, but never usually on a big scale.
Subject of a famous song, The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond, written in the 1840's and supposedly about a Scottish soldier waiting to die in a prison and talks of taking the 'high road' back to Scotland to be with his true love again. fairly traditional, but some great cover versions recently, most notably by Scottish band Runrig.
Well that's a bit of the background, but I decided to head for my own favourite part of it on the East shore.
Set off early(ish) and for me I tool the A811 towards Stirling, and cut off it at Drymen ( Dri-men). Drymen is a nice enough little village and indeed when me and my mates were younger we would head up there on a Friday or Saturday night, as a change from hanging about the local pubs. Drymen is on the West Highland Way (http://www.west-highland-way.co.uk/home.
Headed out towards the loch where you reach Balmaha . Here there is a National Park Centre, and there are a couple of short woodland walks to enjoy. Down by the loch side there is a boatyard, where boats were berthed out of the water for the winter. There was just one small boat in the water still,where the ice in the bay had been broken up a bit so that it could still get out, as the boatyard also runs the Royal Mail delivery service to the inhabited islands on the loch. Again as part of the West Highland Way, there are plenty of hotels,B&B's and a bunkhouse.
This is as far as you can get on public transport. There is a bus,309 operated by McColls, that runs from Alexandria,via Balloch on the south shore, and then up through Drymen
Heading northward there is a steep hill out of Balmaha and then you get back to the shoreline and I pulled in at Milarrochy Bay. A small cove with a bit of stoney beach it is a popular place for individuals to take part in water sports as it is easy to get canoes and wind surf boards into the loch here. There is now, as part of the National Park status, a Ranger Station here.
Further up I stopped at Sallochy Bay. This is where we used to come up to on hot summer days when I was a kid. A slightly bigger bay, with a few 'beach' areas and great for swimming.
On the other side of the road here there are three different woodland walks. This area comes under the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, set up before the National Park, and designated as the Sallochy Trail. Been years since I had done any of them and decided just to follow the blue route that followed a small stream. Think it must have been the toughest as there were some steep climbs, and when I got up to the top there were markers for the other routes that seemed to have come up a forestry road.
Carried on up to Rowerdennan,where the road on the east side comes to an end. The Rowerdennan Hotel is the main thing here, though there are some chalets set beside it. Walking onto the Forestry Commission land and along the track you are back onto the West Highland Way. There is a small public car park beside the pier, where during the summer you can get a boat to from Tarbet or Inverbeg(may not run this summer 2010) on the West side of the loch. Just along from it is the War Memorial, which is one of the more unusual ones I have come across. Back on the track you come to a former shooting lodge which now is a Youth Hostel.
Decided to keep on heading up the route and came to Ptarmigan Cottage. Here the Forestry road ends and you are onto a path that has a long incline as it goes along the loch.
The next stop off the route is Inversnaid, but it takes between 4-5 hours to walk, so I turned back to Rowerdennan to pick up my car. While there was still a bit of light I decided to go to Balloch, the southern most part of the loch. Balloch is probably the easiest part to get to for anyone travelling to Glasgow. There is a twice hourly train service operating through Glasgow Queen Street Low Level station, and the station at Balloch is the end of the line.
The train station at Balloch is practically at the shore, and if driving there is a car park across the road from it.
To the right is the River Leven, that runs from Loch Lomond into the River Clyde, and just at the bridge you will find cruise boats that sail Loch Lomond. Looking from the station, walk through the park on the left of the river. This takes you to Loch Lomond Shores, a big retail outlet built not long ago. Not my thing, but just before you get there, turn right as you come out of the park and you will come to the public slipway. Here you will find the 'Maid Of The Loch' the last paddle steamer built in the UK, on The Clyde in 1953.
Used to sail the loch, but suffered damage in a fire a few years back.
A few nice pubs and restaurants,notably the Balloch Castle Hotel, it is not a bad place for a wee day out if you find yourself in Glasgow.
If you have got plenty of money and want to stay in the best, just a bit on from Balloch on the A82 west coast road is the Cameron House Hotel.