Stunning RSPB Nature Reserve, Gartocharn, Loch Lomond, Scotland
RSPB opens new Loch Lomond trail
A new RSPB trail at the south end of Loch Lomond has opened recently (about a 10 minute drive from Appletree Cottage so we went down to have a look.
.The entrance is easy to find on the A811 about a mile west of Gartocharn on the way to Drymen.
A signpost on the right-hand side of the roads you are heading west points towards the carpark which is adjacent only 100 metres from the main road. The reception hut (next he car park) is only occasionally manned but parking and access is free.
The site comprises or basically two trails - a short one to the right leading to a hide and a longer one to the left which leads down to the shore of Loch Lomond with a loop off to a pond.
Recently constructed the path surfaces are well made and smooth. In the boggier parts immaculate duckboard walks have been created to assure dry passage.
We started with a stroll own the short trail and the first thing we saw was a red squirrel shooting up a tree. Red Squirrels are making a big comeback at the south end of Loch Lomond, the Greys seem to have completely disappeared, mainly to the presence of Pine martens which are in the area. Unfortunately there was not time to get the camera out. and take a picture - although we have managed to get photos of the reds at our farm.
The first trail, which is suitable for wheelchair users, is 200 meters and on a gentle slope ending at what is Gaels View and a rudimentary hide. There are great views of Ben Lomond, looking out across what was known (according to an Ordinance Survey Map of the 1860s) as Gartocharn Bog, Aber Bog and Ring Bog (now wooded). So presumably never cultivated though there is evidence of a dwelling a small defunct ruined limekiln to the north.
The trail down to Loch Lomond shore
We retraced our steps and headed down the Airey Woodland Trail. This beautiful well-made path took us down the shores of Loch Lomond. Winding through magnificent trees for the first part the path is again smooth and well made. The only sound is bird song and there is not a soul around.
Soon the woodland trail opens up to open flat land. Immaculately constructed duckboards have been newly installed to permit dry passage. Orchids and wild flowers are in abundance either side of the walkway. Looking to the east the views of unspoilt flora and fauna are magnificent.
After a long run of duckboards we pass through some more mature woodland before joining the path which follows the shore of Loch Lomond - still within the sanctuary.
The path ends in a clearing down by the shore. Looking north we can see the bulk of Ben Lomond with its peak just touching the clouds. A couple of lads are having a go on a paddle board. This south eastern corner of the loch is shallow water for quite some distance from the shore. This is unlike other beaches where there can be unexpected deep drops into very cold water.
In the distance the outline of some of "The Arrochar Alps" catch some intermittent sunshine as the boats in the Balmaha moorings glisten white on the water.
Looking to the right a herd of cows were down by the shore drinking the fresh water from the loch. Apart form the two lads in the water there was not a soul around. After a few moments enjoying the vistas we started to make our way back.
More information about this RSPB site can be found here: www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/loch-lomond/
Apart from this new site at Gartocharn there are many around Appletree Self-Catering cottage...
Inchcailloch (easily accessible nature reserve island in Loch Lomond with passenger ferry from Balmaha. A sea eagle has been nesting on the island immediately west of Inchcailloch.
Glen Fruin - sightings of Hen Harriers are common here
Flanders Moss - nature reserve on the Carse with viewing tower.
Appletree Cottage - where 36 species of bird were sighted by an ornithology party over three days - including Osprey