West Highland Way: Balmaha to Rowardennan

Notes

General Data

This is a pleasant and undulating stretch of path that parallels the minor road that heads along the eastern bank of Loch Lomond. It strives to stay as much away from the road as possible, often heading over low wooded hills between the road and the water. The occasional glimpses of the loch are superb, especially from the several beaches that are passed.

Distance  7.7 miles
Ascent  1352 feet
Descent  1319 feet
Est. time  3 hours 54 minutes
Difficulty  medium

Map of the leg


Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.

Directions

Follow an unsurfaced path that runs to the left of the B837 as it heads westwards, skirting past a little inlet in the loch. A low stone wall guards the path from the road. As the road curves to the right uphill head straight on along a minor road that leads towards Balmaha Pier. After a short distance turn right up some stone steps that lead up the wooded hillside. When the steps end a slope continues up to reach the summit of a hill called Craigie Fort.

The path leaves the summit and slowly curves to the right as it descends steeply towards the foreshore along steps and a slope. The path forks as it nears the foreshore; take the right-hand fork to follow the shoreline northwestwards; it soon reaches a field that is sometimes used as a car park at NS415914. Continue past the field / car park and head on along the path. At times this passes through woodland at others through clearings; it is generally flat, with only a few minor ascents and descents as it heads around Arrochymore Point. The path eventually emerges into the Millarrochy car park, with a visitorís centre and toilets on the right at NS411921.

Continue through the car park to take a gravel park that leads to a footbridge over a stream. On the other side of the bridge turn left to join a path that skirts the foreshore. Head along the foreshore, crossing a little stream that trickles down the beach. Keep some black railings on the right until the northern end of the bay is reached and then join the road at about NS409926.

The trail follows the road northwestwards. Just before the Milarrochy caravan park is reached on the left a path starts on the right-hand side of the road; the path underfoot is good and easy to follow. It passes the campsite at Milarrochy and rejoins the road to reach a bridge over a stream; continue on and take the second exit to the left by a large Ben Lomond National Memorial Park sign.

This path goes through trees as it parallels the road on the right. It crosses a footbridge over a stream and starts to climb uphill to reach a surfaced track. Cross this and head up some steps; this is the start of an undulating stretch of path that heads through the trees towards the summit of Cnoc Buidhe. The path curves to the right to head north-northwestwards, descending to cross a stream on a bridge before taking a more northerly course to rejoin the road at NS397938.

Turn left down the road for a few yards, then turn right to join a path that runs northwestwards paralleling the road on the left. It heads slightly through the wooded hillside after crossing a footbridge over the Cashell Burn before descending to the road once more. Continue along the pavement for a short distance before the path heads away slightly to the right before rejoining the road just past a campsite. Cross this road and continue on along the pavement with the waters of Loch Lomond to the left. When it reaches the bridge over the Tigh-an-Loaoigh burn the trail joins the road to head uphill for a short distance

At Sallochy (NS389950) the trail leaves the road and takes a long, looping path through the woodland between the road and the loch, initially climbing steeply uphill before slowly descending downhill, eventually reaching Sallochy car park at NS380957, from where there are some grand views over the loch.

Walk through the car park and at the far end turn left along a path that crosses a footbridge over a stream. It passes a path leading to a small boathouse by a bay at NS376959, passing behind the boathouse and continuing beside the shore. After a short distance the path forks; take the right-hand branch and follow it as it heads steeply up the hill along a stony path. It then descends northwestwards to reach a boardwalk that crosses boggy ground to meet the foreshore at Mill of Ross.

The trail skirts the shoreline northwards for a short distance, crossing two streams on footbridges before climbing a hill; it descends down stone steps back towards the loch side to reach an inlet called Lochan Maoil Dhuinne. The path continues to roughly parallel the shoreline northwards for another half mile, regularly climbing and falling before reaching a road at NS361980. Turn left and follow the roadís pavement northwards, passing the Rowardennan Hotel on the left to reach a large car park near Rowardennan Pier at NS358986.

 
 

Places of interest

Balmaha

Balmaha is a small village nestling neatly on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, in the shadow of Conic Hill. It has a large car park, a visitorís centre, a small shop and a pub called the Oak Tree Inn. There are a number of B&Bís, and a ferry regularly runs across the water to Inchcailloch Island in the loch.

location UID #229

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is, by surface area, the largest lake in Britain. It is 24 miles long and between half a mile and five miles wide. Unlike many of the large lochs in the area it is freshwater instead of tidal; its outfall is via the River Leven which flows south to drain into the Clyde immediately to the west of Dumbarton.

The A82 runs along the western shore of the loch, sharing the upper half with the railway line to Oban and Fort William. The eastern shore is more remote, with Balmaha being the only settlement of any size. The West Highland Way follows much of the eastern shore of the loch.

The proximity of the loch to Glasgow has led to it being a massive draw for visitors, particularly in summer. The eastern side of the loch is filled with amenities such as car parks, campsites and visitorís centres. This has been helped by the creation of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, which opened in 2002.

This popularity has led to problems. In 2003 the Scottish Parliament passed the Land Reform (Scotland) Act. Amongst other things this granted the right to wild camp within certain conditions. In some cases idiots were taking advantage of this and the beaches of the loch were often coated with litter. For this reason wild camping has now been banned from the eastern coast of the loch south of Ptarmigan Lodge. Whilst this may be a problem for some walkers, there are a couple of campsites available for walkers on the affected stretch of path.

location UID #230

Rowardennan

Rowardennan is a small hamlet at the northern end of the road that leads up the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. It is dominated by the Rowardennan Hotel, which has a bar available for walkers, a large car park and a visitorís centre. A ferry operates over the loch to Tarbet on the western shore, run by Cruise Loch Lomond.

There is also a youth hostel, Rowardennan Lodge, two-thirds of a mile north of the hotel.

location UID #231
 
 

Transport

Public transport on this leg is difficult; there are no scheduled services down the road from Rowardennan to Balmaha. However the road is far from quiet, especially in season, and it may be possible to return by that means.

Although Cruise Loch Lomond operates services across the loch between Tarbet and Rowardennan, it is hard to make a connection from Tarbet to Balmaha.

As usual, Traveline Scotland is an excellent resource for planning public transport journeys.

Map information

Landranger (1:50,000)   Explorer (1:25,000)
Landranger 57 (Stirling & The Trossachs)
or
Explorer 347 (Loch Lomond South)
and
Explorer 364 (Loch Lomond North)
 
 

Photos of this leg

Loch Lomond in Balmaha.The view north up Loch Lomond from Craigie Hill.A boat in Loch Lomond.Loch Lomond.Loch Lomond.The shores of Loch Lomond.Heading through the woods to the west of the road.Loch Lomond.Loch Lomond.The path through the woodland.Loch Lomond.The path above Loch Lomond.The path heading north towards Rowardennan.The path heading north towards Rowardennan.

Accommodation information

B&B
Coille Mhor Cottage
Rowardennan
East Loch Lomondside
Glasgow
G63 0AR

Grid ref: NS361993 (56.15783,-4.640908)
7495
B&B
Anchorage Cottage Bed & Breakfast
Rowardennan
East Loch Lomondside
Glasgow
G63 0AW
P: 01360 870394
W: www.anchoragecottage.co.uk
E: anchoragecottage@tiscali.co.uk

Grid ref: NS387954 (56.124248,-4.596872)
7496
tents
Caravan
Cashell camping and caravan park
Rowardennan
Glasgow
G63 0AW
P: 01360 870234
W: camping.forestholidays.co.uk

Grid ref: NS394942 (56.113095,-4.583718)
7514
 
Hostel
Rowardennan Lodge SYHA
By Drymen
Glasgow
G63 0AR
P: 01360 870259
W: www.syha.org.uk

Grid ref: NS359993 (56.157991,-4.643784)
7520
Hotel
Rowardennan hotel
Loch Lomond
Glasgow
G63 0AR
P: 01360 870273
W: www.rowardennanhotel.co.uk
E: overnight@rowardennanhotel.co.uk

Grid ref: NS360983 (56.149372,-4.641335)
7521
B&B
Bunkhouse
Balmaha bunkhouse
Balmaha
Loch Lomond
Glasgow

W: www.balmahabunkhouse.co.uk

Grid ref: NS420909 (56.084871,-4.541447)
4739
 


The Oak Tree Inn
Balmaha
Loch Lomond
Glasgow
G63 0JQ
P: 01360 870 357
W: www.oak-tree-inn.co.uk
E: info@oak-tree-inn.co.uk

Grid ref: NS420908 (56.084181,-4.539926)
7477
B&B
Passfoot Cottage
Balmaha Road
Loch Lomond
G63 0JQ
P: 01360 870324
W: http://www.passfoot.com/
E: betty@passfoot.com

Grid ref: NS418909 (56.084507,-4.544467)
7497
B&B
Bay Cottage
Balmaha
Loch Lomond
G63 0JQ
P: 01360 870346
W: www.lochlomond-cottage.co.uk
E: enquiries@lochlomond-cottage.co.uk

Grid ref: NS420909 (56.084522,-4.540535)
7498
 
tents
Caravan
Milarrochy Bay Camping And Caravanning Club Site
Milarrochy Bay
Balmaha
nr Drymen
Glasgow
G63 0AL
P: 01360 870236
W: www.campingandcaravanningclub....

Grid ref: NS407927 (56.100544,-4.563151)
7513
Back to  Drymen to BalmahaForward to  Rowardennan to Inversnaid

Trails Index  Back to 'West Highland Way' index
Trails Index  Back to Trails index