When I think of Scotland, I think of irn bru, whiskey and deep-fried mars bars. Yet at the same time, I also think of vast green spaces, great Munros and expanses of nature to explore.
Last month I visited Loch Lomond for 4 days of camping and exploring in Scotland.
Here’s my daily breakdown of things we did, saw and ate on the first two days of our 4 day Loch Lomond trip. Who knows, it may inspire you for your own Loch Lomond adventure!
DAY ONE – ARRIVING AT MILLAROCHY BAY
On Wednesday morning we packed up the car with our minimal camping supplies, hopped in the front seats and set off on our journey to Scotland.
Passing through Glasgow, I’ll admit that my hopes weren’t high for the beauty of Scotland. The industrial route we took through the popular City of Scotland didn’t leave much to be desired. But once we’d passed Glasgow and hit the more rural Trossachs, I was in awe of its beauty.
We arrived in Millarochy Bay where we booked our first campsite pitch by early afternoon. Keen to go wild camping, we only had a small tent which made pitching up a total breeze. I seriously don’t have tent envy of anyone that has to pitch an 8-man, 4 compartment maze of a tent. I swear some tents are larger and more luxurious than my house!
Personally, I believe that camping should be all about taking it back to the bare minimum and living a simple, outdoorsy life for a few days. Circus-sized tents and packing everything (and the kitchen sink) somehow defeats the purpose of going camping, if you ask me.
Having a smaller tent also meant we were able to bag a lochside pitch. The staff at Millarochy Bay were super helpful at check-in and even guided us to our spot, securing us a gorgeous lochside view.
Anyway, we did things our way and it meant we were set up and unpacked in less than 10 minutes. We knew rain was on it’s way so decided to try squeeze in some exploring before the skies opened up above us.
DAY ONE – CONIC HILL, HEARTY PIE, CUPS OF TEA AND RAIN
Post-campsite set-up, we tightened our walking boots and strolled along the beach into Balmaha. If you haven’t been to Balmaha, then let me tell you it is the cutest little village. The moment I saw it, I wasn’t surprised that it’s a popular tourist destination with backpackers and daytrippers alike.
Our stroll spontaneously took us along and up the trail to Conic Hill. Despite not being dressed for the occasion – hello, skinny jeans and 0 waterproofs – it was a fun (and hilarious) walk.
Due to the weather being against us, we told ourselves we’d just walk for ‘another 10 minutes’ then turn around and head back down. Then 10 minutes turned into ‘Oh, just 10 more’ and ‘we’ll just walk a little further’… unable to resist temptation to reach the top, we soon found ourselves at the summit of Conic Hill. The call of the summit outweighed the torrential rain, cold bones and sniffley noses.
Our descent down Conic Hill was spurred on by the promise of hot tea and hearty steak pies at the Oak Tree Inn. This quaint restaurant was seriously homely and inviting with its cosy interior.
DAY TWO – DEVIL’S PULPIT AND DUMBARTON CASTLE
Although we had been warned about the midges in Scotland, we hadn’t been warned about the rain. Despite being from an equally rainy town, I don’t actually own any rain appropriate clothing so we ended up planning our days around the weather.
Knowing that our second day was likely to be fairly dry, we made this the day we headed to Devil’s Pulpit. Having done no previous research into Devil’s Pulpit, I was in awe at the sheer scale of this place. I think now is a good time to note that Devil’s Pulpit is the name given to a pulpit shaped stone at the bottom of the gorge, whilst the entire gorge is known as Finnich Glen.
Clambering over a fence and trudging our way across a rainy field, I had no idea what lay ahead. On the other side of a barbed wire fence and nestled behind the trees was one of the most breath-taking views I’ve seen so far in the UK.
Devil’s Pulpit definitely is a hidden gem.
As we adventured around Finnich Glen, I was filed with awe. Photos barely do Devil’s Pulpit justice but it truly was amazing to see.
The descent down to the bottom of the gorge was slippery and mossy so it’s probably best visiting on a sunny, dry day. Once at the bottom of the gorge, the views were even more spectacular than when you are at the top looking down.
After exploring the wilderness of Finnich Glen, we decided to continue our journey by jumping in the car and driving to Dumbarton Castle to swap nature for history.
Perched atop a volcanic rock on the edge of the River Clyde, Dumbarton Castle was a lovely snippet of Scottish history. We paid the small entry fee and spent a couple of hours roaming around the grounds of the castle site.
The Tower Crag offered great views of the surrounding area and rolling hills. This castle site was full of history, from Vikings to the Scottish Wars of Independence to being a military base and a prison.
Dumbarton Castle isn’t too big so after a couple of hours of walking, we’d seen all of castle and learnt a lot about a small piece of Scotland’s history.
I didn’t actually take any photos whilst at the castle, oops sorry about that!
By this point, we were in need of a coffee so decided to stop off at St Mocha’s in Balmaha before heading back to our camp site to cook up some tea and cosy up in the tent.
And just like that, the first two days of our mini Scotland adventure were over.