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Sep 16 2014

Rediscovering Loch Lomond

Until August this year, the one and only time I had been to Loch Lomond was 22 years ago when I went to Glasgow with a friend.  We visited Luss for the day and, even though it was a very cold November day, we were determined to get out on a boat on Loch Lomond.  It seemed a shame not to.  Since it was so cold, as you can see from our attire in the photograph below, we were the only ones brave or stupid enough to be there and want to go out on a boat.  We got our wish though.  The skipper was great.  He made us hot drinks and added a wee dram of whisky to keep us warm while we were on the boat.

Loch Lomond 1992

This time, rather than going for the day, I wanted to stay overnight on Loch Lomond.  I found a hostel further north on the other side of the loch.  So, I got a bus from Buchanan Street bus station to Tarbet where I got a boat to Inversnaid, which took about 30 minutes.

Having dumped my stuff at the hostel and checked in, I was raring to go.  I was told about two possible walks.  One was called Rob Roy’s lookout and the other was a waterfall walk.  I always like to get a good view from up high, so I would have gone to Rob Roy’s lookout if I found the way, but I didn’t.  As both walks begin from the same place, I took the waterfall trail, which was signposted.

Waterfall Walk

Waterfall Walk

I turned right and followed the track.  I was happy enough because you get a great view overlooking the loch from the start of the walk.

The track was pretty muddy at times, but doable.   When I got to the waterfall, it was gushing because of all the recent rainfall.  It’s a lovely short trek that takes you all the way down to the hotel.  I didn’t go to the hotel.  Instead, I sat down by the waters edge for a while and then continued on for a bit longer before turning back.  As far as I know, the only other way to make it a circular walk would be to return by road.  I prefer to stay off roads, if I can, so I went back the way I came.

West Highland Way

West Highland Way

I knew practically nothing about the West Highland Way when I arrived in Inversnaid.  The West Highland Way, in case you’re also unfamiliar with it, is a 96 mile journey from Milngavie, near Glasgow, to Fort William.  Being in Inversnaid meant I was in the right spot to do part of this popular hiking route.  I was lucky because I wasn’t loaded down with a backpack and camping equipment.  That meant I was able to take my time and enjoy the scenery, fresh air, and tranquility while getting a bit of exercise.  If I ever decide to do the trail, at least I know what it’ll be like having hiked along one of the toughest sections of it.

Rob Roy’s Cave

Rob Roy's Cave

While I was walking along the West Highland Way, I wanted to see Rob Roy’s Cave.  I would have walked past it if it wasn’t for someone behind me who spotted the sign and turned left when I was about to continue straight on.  Sometimes I am a little blinkered.  I followed the sign and saw the guy sitting up on a large rock.  I thought it would be easy to get to, but it isn’t.  You have to walk or scramble across some large rocks and suss out the best route to get a good view of the cave.  The best view of the cave and Loch Lomond, is the rock I was sitting on.  I sat up there for ages.  It was a glorious summer’s day, I had a great view, and I got some ideas of where to go next from a Glaswegian I was chatting to.

Overall Experience

Loch Lomond is a great place to relax and chill out.  I’m biased because I like being near water; I like listening to the water lapping against the shore and watching the boats glide across with ease.  It was fabulous being there in glorious sunshine and exploring a different part of Loch Lomond so many years after my first visit.

Where I stayed

Inversnaid is a tiny village on the shore of Loch Lomond.  There are two places to stay for two very different budgets.  There’s a hotel on the shore called Inversnaid Hotel and, about a mile up the road, a hostel called Inversnaid Bunkhouse, which is where I stayed.  I wasn’t expecting much because it was a bunkhouse and I didn’t read the description of it.  As far as i was concerned, I had a place to stay.  I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the restaurant/cafe area upstairs, which has the original stained glass windows (photograph above).  You have probably guessed that it used to be a church.  Apart from that, it isn’t the most luxurious or best equipped hostel in the world, but I was glad to have a place to stay, in a stunning setting, in my price range, with friendly staff.

More Information

I wasn’t particularly well-prepared for hiking since I wasn’t expecting to leave the city.  However, I don’t go anywhere without my walking shoes.  You really need proper walking shoes or boots if you are going to do any hiking trails in the area.  The surfaces are uneven, it’s hilly, and it can be very muddy and slippery in places.

You may well want to get away from everything and not use technology, but if you want to work, keep in touch with others, book/confirm something, check something out, or record your trip live, as I was doing, there is surprisingly pretty good 3G access.

If you want further information on Loch Lomond or Scotland in general, it’s worth checking out Visit Scotland’s website,  For transport information, I used the Travel Line Scotland website and free mobile app.

Location

I got a bus from Buchanan Street to Tarbet (not to be confused with Tarbert, which is miles away). The bus was heading for Campbell Town. Get off on the A82 with the Tourist Information Office on your left and Tarbet Hotel on your right.  On the opposite side of the road to the Tourist Info Centre and the hotel is where you get the boat.  You can buy a single or return ticket from the kiosk.  A return is cheaper, but you need to know the return date.  I wasn’t sure, so the guy wrote down a date range for me, which was fine.  The ferry takes 30 mins and will drop you off at Inversnaid Hotel.  If you’re staying at the hostel, ring and they will pick you up.

Have your say

Have you been to Loch Lomond?  If so, where?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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