This week’s walk is in Balmaha on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond and about seven miles along the B837 from the village of Drymen.
It is a short picturesque walk of about two miles on part of the West Highland Way (WHW) and the Millenium Forest Path (MFP).
Start from Balmaha carpark beside the Tourist Information Centre. Turn left onto the side of the road facing the Oak Tree Restaurant and newly built accommodation Lodges.
It is interesting to survey the cottages and land developments in the area before turning left onto a vehicle track at the Scotland Saltire
Flag Pole and enter the Balmaha woodlands with its abundance of oak trees, a feature of the Loch Lomond countryside.
The walk passes round a gate and at the top of the hill turns left to continue ahead and join the WHW at the foot of the path from Conic Hill. It by-passes the car park (leaves the WHW temporarily) and follows the MFP round the wood to cross the shore road, taking care and rejoining the WHW.
Pause on the veranda platform at the water’s edge looking over to the boatyard, the boat jetty and the moored boats in the Loch.
Continuing round the lochside, the walk follows the WHW and MFP waymarkers and enters the narrow road to pass Passfoot Cottage on the right. Before the pier look out for the waymarker signs on the right to climb up steps and a path to the top of Craigie Fort for the panoramic view of the River Endrick at the mouth of the Loch round to Gartocharn, Balloch and in the foreground Inchcailloch, “Island of Old Woman”, believed to have been used at one time as a nunnery and set up by an Irish Princess, Saint Kentigerna.
The walk leaves the top on rough stone steps and winds down on a smoother path to the shore.
It turns left along the shore and crosses the metal arch footbridge to Balmaha Pier where small ferries operate trips to Balloch and Luss.
The views across the Loch are impressive with the islands of Inchcailloch and Inchfad in the foreground over to the Luss hills and round to Ben Lomond.
Leaving the pier, the walk passes the steps to Craigie Fort and the veranda platform before coming to the open banking at the shallow waters edge where often ducks can be seen being fed by many of the visitors.
Further on at the side of the Loch, the picnic area has been landscaped with the lovely statue of Tom Weir, MBE, (pictured), which was unveiled at the end of December last year by Cameron McNeish and Jimmie McGregor in the presence of Tom’s wife, Rhona.
It is a fitting tribute to Tom’s major contribution to introducing generations to Scotland’s great outdoors through his adventures as a climber, writer, broadcaster and naturalist.
At the end of the walk there is the opportunity for well earned refreshments at the the Oak Tree Shops and on the way back to the car the Tourist Information Centre in the car park is well worth a visit.