Walking East Shore of Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park
Wonderful autumn colours await the explorer
The route is via Drymen Village where the road up the eastern side of Loch Lomond turns off to the left. It takes only a few minutes to pass through the small hamlets en route to the shore. First is Buchanan Smiddy - a couple of rows of terraced houses on the right-hand side of the road. Next is Milton of Buchanan. On the right is the old mill which although a private dwelling still retains its mill wheel and some of the internal workings.
After Milton of Buchanan we arrive at Balmaha. This hamlet grew up around a dye factory which ceased trading when synthetic dyes were produced. Since then, it has grown into a small marina with a number of self-catering properties, all squeezed in to get a loch view.
There is a popular pub The Oak Tree, a coffee shop and a small general store.
Down by the shore is a statue of Tom Weir, a much celebrated presenter of Scottish Television's hugely popular travelogue of Scotland "Weir's Way". Tom lived in nearby Gartocharn village and throughout his long television career travelled to almost every part of Scotland. The statue often wears a red woolly hat.
In Balmaha Boatyard most of the boats have been taken out of the water for the winter. Remaining berthed up at the jetty however is the ferry boat to the isle of Inchcailloch. This boat, which it is said served at the Dunkirk rescue in the Second World War, transports passengers across the short isthmus to the island which is now a nature reserve. There are no roads on the island but a foot path leads through the centre to a beach at the western end. There the wooden picnic tables have been provided with steel plates on which to place a disposable barbecue whilst taking a dip in the secluded gentle sloping bay. Bit cold at this time of year though.
Heading further north up the eastern side of the loch is Mallarochy Bay camp and caravan site which is still open at this time of year. There the loch is still and the leafless trees dark against the water and sky. The mist is creeping over the headland.
After Millarochy bay another campsite at Cashel. This smaller site is closed for the winter but the low winter sun poking through the trees is nonetheless stunning. This popular camping site in the summer lies at the foot of Queen Elizabeth Forest, planted with native species in the 1990's, partly funded by the National Lottery. The nearby Cashel Farm has an exhibition hall and a well-maintained small apple orchard to visit.
Still further up the loch is Sallochy Bay. There are some good walks from this location which we have blogged about in the past. One route follows the shoreline around Sallochy point, the other is up into the hills to the ruins of a once busy farm steading.
Sallochy bay with its pebbly beach is popular with paddlers, swimmers and picnickers in the summer. Today it is a perfect place for dog walkers.
The road on the east shore of Loch Lomond does not go all the way up the loch. It goes as far as Rowardennan Hotel which is at the foot of a path leading up Ben Lomond. At the end of the road is a car park, a small pier, a caravan site and the aforementioned hotel.
In summer the hotel is a great place to have lunch outside in nice weather. As well as the terraced patios there is a large well-kept lawn leading down to the shore of the loch.
Rowardennan was a popular visiting point for The Maid of the Loch paddle steamer. This ship is currently undergoing renovation in Balloch slipway (see previous blog). In the meantime, the pier is served by vessels from Sweeney's Cruises and the Loch Lomond water bus.
The view looking north from Rowardennan is fantastic - with the Arrochar Alps in the distance. Immediately to the west at this point is the small island of Eileen nan Deargainnan (Gaelic meaning Isle of the fleas or sand hoppers)