Loch Lomond – West Side

The main A82 along the west side of Loch Lomond is an important road, giving access to the loch at many points. There are good public transport services along it, with the northern part of the loch also accessible via the West Highland line.  In addition Balloch and Tarbert are linked by a 15 mile (24km) cycle track by the loch shores, part of the West Loch Lomond Cycle Route.  Duck Bay is a popular stopping off point with a large picnic area and nearby Cameron House is the base for Scotland’s only seaplane service –Loch Lomond Seaplanes - with a range of tours that capture the spectacular scenery of Loch Lomond and further afield.Luss, on the west shore of Loch LomondThe attractive little community of Luss is a popular stopping –off point.  Originally it was a religious centre associated with St Kessog, an Irish saint who lived on the nearby island of Inchtavannich in the 6th century AD.  The story of the continuous religious presence in Luss for more than one-and-a-half millennia is told in the Loch Lomond Pilgrimage Centre. Luss Parish Church, dating from 1875, also welcomes visitors.

The story of the village is bound up with the local Colquhoun lairds.  Their tenants worked in the local slate quarry and estate sawmill and cotton mill. The Colquhouns built a new or ‘model village’ for them in the 1850s, with the characteristic neat estate cottages that survive today. The story is told in the Clan Colquhoun Visitor Centre and Luss Museum.

The Luss Hills across Loch LomondThe area around Luss offers a variety of walking routes (leaflet available from The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority), notably in the hills to the west. A water bus service connects Luss to Rowardennan on the east shore between March and October. There are also Luss to Balmaha connections, via the island of Inchcailloch and peak season connections between Balloch and Luss. To the south at Arden there is an on demand ferry to the island of Inchmurrin.

Continuing north, at Inverbeg the Inverbeg Gallery has an extensive collection of landscape watercolours, oil paintings and prints. Firkin Point is a popular viewpoint a little further on, with its shingle beach, parking and shoreline paths. There are also good places to park and stop off at Tarbet, a Cruise Loch Lomond departure point where a range of cruises are available. There are water bus services to Balmaha and also Rowardennan.

The railway now runs parallel to the road, having dropped down from the slopes above Loch Long to the west. At Inveruglas, another good loch viewpoint (parking), there is a seasonal ferry to Inversnaid, on the east side of the loch. The conspicuous pipelines on the slopes of Ben Vorlich here mark where a 2-mile (3.2km) tunnel through the mountain emerges. This tunnel runs from the Loch Sloy dam, behind Ben Vorlich. This was the first major post-war hydro-electric project in Scotland. It even used Italian prisoners of war, awaiting repatriation, in its construction.  A limited water bus service in late afternoons (March-October) connects Inveruglas to Inversnaid and Tarbet.

Marina at ArdluiFurther north, Ardlui marks the end of Loch Lomond. The Ardlui Hotel runs a seasonal ferry to the far side of the loch, at Ardleish, connecting with the West Highland Way. As part of a pre-railway through route to the north via Glen Falloch, a short canal once diverged from the River Falloch towards Inverarnan, giving access to the old-established Drovers Inn. It was opened in 1844 but had fallen into disuse by the late 1860s.

Leaving the loch behind to travel up Glen Falloch, as well as one of the most southerly remnants of the native pinewoods of Scotland, another notable feature for rail travellers, in particular, is the crossing of the Glen Falloch Viaduct – at c. 150ft (46m) only 7ft (2m) lower than the rail height on the Forth Bridge! Road travellers can enjoy, only a little beyond, the Falls of Falloch (parking, signposted). Also in the vicinity, above the falls, is an old boundary stone, the Clach nan Breatann, ‘the Stone of the Britons’, where the Britons of the south clashed with the Dalradian Scots of the west in the 8th century.

Balmaha and the mouth of the River Endrick from the airFinally, where the glen levels out on the approach to Crianlarich is the section of the rail route that was for long referred to as ‘The Fireman’s Rest’. In the days of steam, this is where the hard-pressed fireman on the footplate of north-bound trains could, for a brief interval, stop shovelling coal to feed the locomotive boiler on the gruelling climb up from Loch Lomond.