I only discovered Inchcailloch three years ago. It’s an island nature reserve near the south end of Loch Lomond, with a little camping ground and paths that weave through woodland, up to the summit.
Whippet Snippet….Dogs are welcome, but under control / on a lead. There is no waste collection on the island so we always take our Dicky Bag.
You can get to Inchcailloch from the west bank, via one of the tour cruiseboats, but the quickest route is from Balamaha boatyard on the east side. Now, the boatyard is a bit tucked away and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s closed down or that the ticket office is unmanned but hang around and A Man will appear. The boats run on-demand and it’s £7.50 return - you just need to tell them how long you’ll want on the island. I’d go for an absolute minimum of two hours, three if you want to be leisurely about it.
Inchcailloch from Balmaha harbour, April & August 2019
The jetty is long-ish and a bit rickety underpaw, so do take care getting to the boat. Ledi's a smidge embarrassed to admit that he finds planks with spaces between them a little fur-ruffling, so has to be carried most of the way. Neither of us enjoy it a great deal and getting into the boat is the undignified cherry on top. However, needs must and he does like it when he gets there, so we keep doing it...
Ledi’s friend, Wizard, thoroughly enjoying the ride over / Ledi not so sure….
Follow the central path into the island, then take the low path to the right, which will lead you to the cemetary (if you’re interested) and then around the north side to the beach and campsite. On a nice day, make your way down to the edge of the water and dip your paws in - it's super-refreshing!
Inchcailloch cemetery or Saint Kentegerna's
Then follow the central path back in and bear right up the summit path, taking care, as it is a little uneven in places. And it's another one of those ascents where you think you’re nearly there, but you’re not. You might get a bit out of puff but keep pressing on, it's so worth it!
I honestly think it’s one of the top two views of Loch Lomond (the other one being from the top of Duncryne Hill, a.k.a. ‘The Dumpling’ in Gartocharn), so take a picnic and enjoy the scenery.
Allow yourself a good 10 mins to get from the summit back down to the jetty because they're pretty hot on the pick-up times. That said, if you do miss your intended boat slot, you can probably hop on the next one, assuming it's not too busy.
Once you're back on dry land, head to the St Mocha coffee shop and/or head up the road towards Rowardennan and pull into the Milarrochy Bay car park (not the campsite) to have a look at the much-photographed lone tree that sits at the edge of the loch.
If you decide to keep going up the road, hop out at Sallochy and have a walk around the small headland there, then carry on until you get to the end: the car park that marks the starting point for climbing Ben Lomond (that's for another post). It's quite a nice spot for a viewing the loch and, as long as you've stretched your legs somewhere between Balmaha and Rowardennan, you can say you've done part of the West Highland Way!
Getting there: Turn off the A811 at Drymen and follow the B837, signed Balmaha and Rowardennan. Balmaha is just under 4 miles and the car park is on your right in the centre of the village.
Sat Nav: G63 0JQ
OS Landranger map: 56 LOCH LOMOND & INVERARY
Walking guide to the island: Inchcailloch
Terrain: Pretty well-maintained paths, so just comfortable walking shoes/boots.
Nearest facilities: Balmaha. The St Mocha coffee shop is small, but a nice little spot to have a natter and a drink, with a slice of home baking. Pooches welcome to sit outside.
All maps in the blog are from Google Maps