A fantastic day out on Loch Lomond on a beautiful day out from Appletree Cottage was a big winner.
The boat which had capacity for eight passengers was one supplied and crewed by Portnellan Farm, Gartocharn. - about 15 minutes drive from Appletree Cottage.
The boat is booked by the hour.. This gives great flexibility on where to go and explore on the many islands on the loch.
The boat was one of several available berthed by the long jetty at Portnellan. . Portnellan is reached by heading down Ross Loan by the primary school and turning right after about a mile into the drive down to Ross Priory. Just before you reach the priory .you turn left and continue for about another half mile.
Picnic on Inchcailloch
On this occasion the plan was to have a bit of speed boating to an excellent beach on Inchcailloch. This island is a nature reserve just off the east shore of the loch close to Balmaha. It can also be reached by a passenger ferry from Balmaha and is a great place for families to explore as there is no traffic, there are no roads - just paths across this pretty and now uninhabited island.
.The views across the loch are fantastic. There are twenty two islands and twenty seven islets on Loch Lomond. A few of the islands are inhabited, some just with a holiday house whilst others, having been inhabited in the past are now free of any habitation.
One island (Inchconnachan) is inhabited by Wallabies unusually. Introduced in the 1940s the wallaby population has grown to an estimated 60 animals.
Other islands, or rather islets are old Crannogs - early dwellings built out on the loch for defensive reasons. Soon we arrive at the west facing beach on Inchcailloch
Around the beach on Inchcailloch are a number of picnic tables each with a steel plate at one end for placing a disposable barbecue. The national park think of everything! The gentle sloping sandy bay is perfect for a dip in the warm summer.
There are many other beaches we could have visited on the loch. There is much to explore.
After an afternoon at the beach the speedboat collects us again and gives us another turn of speed on our return to Portnellan.
Another great day out from Appletree Cottage.
Well worth booking ahead as it is a very popular pastime.
Bowling Harbour Ship Graveyard
There's a certain fascination with abandoned shipping. There are a few places along the Clyde to view these deteriorating hulks with one of the best known being Bowling Basin.
Bowling is at the Western end of the Forth and Clyde Canal. The canal and its basin are well maintained with a host of brightly painted craft moored along its banks.
However, just immediately west of the canal basin is a harbour with a very different appearance. Known as the Ships Graveyard, Bowling harbour is host to a number of rotting vessels.
The harbour was used for scrapping small ships in the period after 1945. After that it fell into disuse. Some boats remained and were joined by others. In 2001 a survey of the harbour recorded 21 abandoned wrecks. A list of them and more details about the harbour can be found on the Canmore site here: canmore.org.uk/site/102460/unknown-bowling-harbour-river-clyde.
They comprise an assortment of trawlers, life boats, pleasure boats and coasters. Some are so rotted they are unidentifiable.
Several wrecks have been cleared from the site in recent years but many still remain - providing interesting photographic material. Best visited when the tide is low.
Wrecks on River Leven at Dumbarton
On the River Leven at Dumbarton, just before its confluence with the Clyde and very close to where the famous Cutty Sark ship was built lie a number of interesting shipwrecks.
The site is again best viewed at low tide as little can be seen when the water is high.
The boats have obviously been lying for a number of years. Others close by have sunk beneath the waves and only small elements of their structures poke above the water as a warning to passing craft.
To the left of the picture was lay the famous Denny's shipyard where the Cutty Sark among many other famous ships were built. The Cutty Sark, one of few surviving clippers is preserved at Greenwich near London. Little of Denny Shipyard remains - except the building which housed test tank and board room. This has now become part of the Scottish Maritime Museum which is well worth a visit.
Close by and still in view of the castle lies the remains of a steam trawler and a couple of what look like pleasure craft. It is hard to discern exactly what these boats were and how long they have been lying here but it has been speculated that the steam trawler was abandoned in 1953.
Dumbarton has been going through some remarkable renovations in the last few years. Buildings have been tidied up and revived whilst some of the more derelict properties have been demolished. The waterfront is now being spruced up with the addition of blocks of modern flats and a river walkway. Surely it can't be long before these wrecks are cleared away.
Journey time - 20-25 minutes
This is a lovely quiet cycle ride along peaceful single track roads and a tarmac cycle path.
Starting form the cottage we turned right at the gates onto the main road - a quiet back road forming part of The John Muir Way cycle route running from Dunbar to Helensburgh.
Shortly after turning right onto this road we turn right at the cross roads and enjoy the gentle freewheel downhill.
At the right hand bend at the bottom of the hill we turn left through the chicane and down onto a section of the former Forth and Clyde Junction Railway.
At the bottom of the railway path there is a gate as we arrive at the main road. In the past this is where the railway crossed the road on a level crossing. Since the tracks were lifted in the early 1960s all that remains of Drymen Station is the red station house on the far side of the road and a corrugated iron goods shed a little further along the path.
Once across the road the path along the old railway is level with a good tarmac surface. Soon we can see the Endrick Water below to the left and right making its steady way down to where it flows into Loch Lomond.
We reach one of the most impressive features on this route - the bridge over the Endrick Water
It is possible to cycle over this bridge (if you have the nerves!) but it is best to check that there is nobody else on it as there is little room to pass - especially with a bike.
There are great views from the bridge...
Once over the bridge there is a very very gentle climb - remember we're on a former railway so its nothing serious. This is a pretty wooded section which takes us to an overhead road bridge. The road bridge was actually built wide enough to allow double railway track to pass beneath it but as the Forth and Clyde Junction railway was rather unsuccessful the second track was never installed.
Soon we are on a plateau with fabulous views all around. To the west and north west we can see the lump of Drumgoyne, locally known as the Dumpling as it sits above Gartocharn Village. The Luss hills are impressive in the distance as is the southern end of Loch Lomond.
Our journey continues at high level with open views and hardly any traffic. The quietness of the road contributes to the enjoyment of our travel. The vistas are superb
Very soon we enter Drymen Village. It is the same day as the Balfron Bus Garage annual jamboree so vintage busses are passing through the village. Remember Midland Bluebirds from the 1960s? Once in the village we treat ourselves to a welcome ice cream before returning to Appletree Cottage.