Hiking and Kayaking in Loch Lomond
If you caught up on the first two days of my Loch Lomond trip, you may have realised it started out as quite an action-packed holiday. The last two days of my long weekend in Scotland were just as adventurous as the first two.
From walking to kayaking, if you’re looking for an idea of what to do whilst in the Loch Lomond area, hopefully the following recap of my last 2 days in Loch Lomond will offer some inspiration…
DAY THREE – A MISTY DAY CLIMBING THE COBBLER
Knowing Friday would be the rainiest of days during our Scottish camping trip, we opted to spend the whole day outdoors…as you do. Initially we wanted to climb Ben Lomond but the rain made us change our plans last minute and so chose Ben Arthur (or the Cobbler) instead.
The thing that drew us in to Ben Arthur was that in order to reach the summit you would have to ‘thread the needle’ by climbing through a small hole, inching along a narrow ledge and scrambling atop of the rock. But did we manage to reach the summit? I’ll give you a clue… as I write this part of my blog post, I’m feeling ever so slightly bitter.
We pulled up at the car park alongside Loch Lomond and started looking around for where the path began. Naturally, we didn’t pre-plan our route but once we found the start of the trial (thanks to someone literally pointing us in the right direction), we excitedly began our walk.
The long and winding dirt path soon opened up to Jurassic scenes. I couldn’t get over our ferny surroundings or the gentle trickle of the valley water running through the stream. It really did feel as though we had stepped back into a Jurassic Age.
Reaching a fork in the road, we decided to take the route to the left and I’m so glad we did. This path led us on some pretty fun scrambles, which is always my favourite part of a hike. Scrambling up and over rocks, we had no idea if we were heading in the right direction. We simply pressed on with sheer determination and excitement, following the direction that we instinctively felt was the right way to go.
As we inched towards the end of the scramble, passersby would encourage us by remarking that we were ‘almost at the top’. After the scramble, there was a steep and narrow walk followed by a walk up a slab in extremely misty conditions…and we eventually reached the top!
Or at least, we thought we did…
It’s fair to say, we couldn’t see a single thing at the ‘top of the summit’. The misty rain and fog was in full force meaning our vision was seriously impaired. I’m not sure why we didn’t question the whereabouts of the needle but I think we both put it down to it being too misty to see. After a few moments spent atop the summit, we began our descent.
As we climbed back down we reached a clearing in the path where another peak laid to the left of us. We joked about climbing that peak and continued our walk down. What a grave mistake that was.
As we walked, we became growingly concerned that we hadn’t actually climbed Ben Arthur. After all, we definitely didn’t see the Needle. If only we climbed that second peak we joked about. Because if we did climb that peak then we would have actually climbed Ben Arthur.
I can’t help but feel unaccomplished knowing that we never actually reached the summit… we simply climbed the peak next to it. I believe we climbed Arthurs Seat but honestly, I’m not sure. If anyone can shed some light on the situation, please help a girl out!
Either way, it was an incredibly fun day out and I can promise you that I will be going back to finish what I started.
DAY FOUR – KAYAKING ACROSS LOCH LOMOND AND MOVING CAMPSITE
Unzipping the tent, we climbed out to make our morning coffee for one last time at Milarrochy Bay. I don’t think I will ever tire of drinking coffee out of a big enamel mug in the middle of nowhere.
We knew we wanted to get out and explore the islands of Loch Lomond. At the top of my list was Inchconnachan. Simply because it’s home to wild roaming wallabies. However, it was also one of the furthest away islands so I figured we’d have to save that island for our next Loch Lomond trip.
The most popular mode of transport for exploring the islands is probably either the ferry or by hiring a boat. Of course, we always have to do things differently. The ferry seemed too touristy for us and yet hiring a boat wasn’t adventurous enough, so we decided that we’d hire a kayak.
We hired a kayak from Balmaha House, paying £75 for 6 hours. Life jackets fastened, we clambered into our kayak and set off rowing to the first island on our list.
Before hiring the kayak, we quickly mapped out a route. The first island on our list was Inchcailloch. This island was the closest to Balmaha and offered some historic sights.
We dragged the kayak up on to the shoreline of the island, hopped out and began wandering around the island. We walked the length of the island, stopping off to explore the burial ground and read up on the history of the island.
Content with our first island, we pushed our kayak back out on the water. At the front of the kayak, it was kind of down to me to lead the way…which isn’t something you ever want to rely on.
Thinking I’d taken us to the next big island, we actually wound up at Clairinsh – a small, ferny, overgrown island. We strolled around the island, amazed by how wild it was before embarking on our island-hopping journey again.
By this point the wind has started to pick up. With the wind and waves battling against us, kayaking to the next island was seriously exhausting.
As we reached the mid-point of the Loch, Water Rescue pulled up beside us. Obviously they were concerned about the two weirdos kayaking from end of the Loch to the other. Admittedly, we must have looked pretty strange kayaking with all our might. Once we reassurred them that we were okay and were simply “Going to Inchmurrin for lunch”, they zipped off, leaving us to row to our next destination.
The promise of food powered us on and after a strong 45 minutes or so of kayaking, we finally made it to Inchmurrin. Though we hadn’t accounted for the fact that the restaurant was on the other side of the island. So a 15 minute power-walk across the island was needed before we could settle down to enjoy some tasty pub food.
After eating, we rowed back to Balmaha. This time the wind was behind us making our journey considerably shorter and easier. I think it’s fair to say, the employees at the Boat House were definitely shocked that we’d made it out to Inchmurrin and back again.
Kayaking across Loch Lomond was easily one of my favourite days ever and I’d recommend it to anyone, even if you just hire a kayak for a couple of hours.
We were feeling fairly exhausted after a full day spent on the water. Luckily, our tent was simple to pitch so it didn’t take long for us to set up camp once we arrived at Sallochy Campsite.
Callum made sure to reserve a Lochside spot when he booked our stay at Sallochy Campsite, giving us our own secluded pitch overlooking the water. On arrival, we also picked up a fire pit and some logs. An absolute must-have if you ever plan to stay at Sallochy.
An evening spent cosied up around the firepit was just what I needed after an adventure-filled few days. There’s just something about an outdoors fire that makes me feel instantly calm and cosy.
DAY 5 – LEAVING SCOTLAND (AND VISITING THE MOST DEPRESSING TOWN BEFORE WE GO)
With heavy hearts, we packed up our tent for one last time. Namedly, a semi-formal campsite, there weren’t any showers or hot water at Sallochy campsite. This ‘wilder’ camping experience suited me just fine as a way to end our Scottish adventure before going home to the comforts of a hot shower and real bed.
We had a 4-hour journey ahead of us so wanted to make the most of it by stopping off somewhere along the way. Keeping up with the trend of the trip, we hadn’t planned to visit somewhere on the way home. So, without a concrete plan in place, I quickly scoured Google Maps to find a town that was half-way between Loch Lomond and home.
The lack of research resulted in us ending up in Dumfries and if there’s anything I’ve learnt after my recent trip to Dumfries, it’s to make sure I do my research before visiting somewhere.
Living in Blackpool, I thought it was hard to come by a town that was more lacklustre than my hometown. But, it seems Dumfries may have stolen that crown. Nevertheless, it was still a rememberable day out.
So, if you are ever planning to visit Loch Lomond, make sure you put Balmaha, Luss, the cobbler (or whatever we climbed…) and kayaking on your to-do list.