Balloch, Loch Lomond is a bustling village on the southern shore of Loch Lomond, where the River Leven leaves to join the River Clyde and is only fifteen minutes from Appletree Cottage. The name Balloch likely derives from the Gaelic Baile Loch - village on the loch and for centuries has been on the route from the South as boats made their way up the River Leven from the Clyde to Loch Lomond.
is that starting point form many boat tours around the loch, it has a railway station from which one can travel to Dumbarton, Glasgow and beyond, and there are bus services to Balmaha, Helensburgh, Luss and Glasgow.
The village is on Sustrans Cycle Route 7 - a beautiful route which runs all the way from Sunderland in England to Inverness in the north of Scotland.
A short walk from the railway station is the pier for the paddle steamer The Maid of the Loch . This ship was built in Glasgow and then dismantled and floated up the River Leven for re-assembly on the slipway close to the pier. The boat is currently undergoing major restoration and hard hat tours are currently available to those who wish to inspect the progress and view the interior and engines. It is hoped that she will be once again ferrying visitors and locals around the loch in the not too distant future.
The vessel is hauled out of the water by the last surviving working steam winch in the UK. At weekends during the summer the steam engine is fired up. Admission to the building is free and for a small donation visitors are permitted to toot the whistle!
Whilst you're in the vicinity of the steamer, check out the Highland Coffee outlet on the pier, selling hot drinks, including their own coffee. There is a fantastic view point with seating at the end of the pier where you can sip your beverage and admire the stunning scenery.
Heading west from the Maid of the Loch, past the rowing boat, kayak and pedalo hire and past the children's' playground you come to The Sea Life Centre with over 1500 in 7 themed zones as well as an interactive rock pool experience.
The Sea Life Centre is at the edge of Lomond Shores shopping mall. This contains outlets which include Frasers, Hawkeshead, Sports Direct, Tweeds of Scotland, Thornton's and Loch Lomond Jewellers to name a few. There are also food outlets on the upper floor.
At the other end of the Shopping Mall there are more attractions...
Tree Zone is a great experience for kids and adults alike. A tree top experience with high walkways, rope ladders and rope swings. Great fun for all either to participate or watch.
Next to Tree Zone is the Bird of Prey Centre where you can view Eagles, Kestrels and Falcons being flown and fed, and hear information about their history and habits.
There is also a Crazy Golf course and a lovely stroll through the woods along the promontory.
There are boat tours go directly from Loch Lomond Shores and they are well worth a trip, as Loch Lomond is one of the most beautiful lochs in the country.
In April and other months Lomond shores hosts a food and drink festival with stallholders and produce from all over the country.
Back in Balloch, Sweeny's Tours have their main base near the marina at Balloch Bridge. These large luxurious craft will ferry you around many points on Loch Lomond or just take you on a tour around some of the 22 islands and 27 islets in the loch.
In summer Balloch hosts the Loch Lomond Highland Games and is also the destination for the famous charity fundraiser the Kilt-walk where people with all abilities walk to raise funds for their favoured cause.
In the village there are shops including a large Co-op supermarket, restaurants and takeaways.
It is a great place for a day out from Appletree Cottage and can be busy during the summer months, although there is plenty of parking and it is mostly still free!