Hills & Mountains
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
*I am in the process of redesigning this section to include notes and many more high-res shots*
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The core feature of the national park is of course Loch Lomond itself - Islands etc*
The majority of the loch`s islands are all heavily wooded and there is at least one with an excellent sandy beach. The highlight during a cruise or paddle for many though is usually when the boat negotiates the shallow, winding tree-fringed channel between Inchconnachan and Inchtavanach, known as `the Narrows`. The islands, like the rest of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, support a diverse range of wildlife. Just how diverse was revealed in the early 1980s following a night-time road accident on the A82 when a tanker ended up in a ditch. Despite the driver`s protests that he was stone cold sober the police breathalysed him anyway, especially when he maintained that he was forced to swerve to avoid a Kangaroo! (duplicated text - to edit*)
The Maid of the Loch was once a familiar site on Loch Lomond as she plied between Balloch, where she now lies, and Ardlui at the loch`s northern tip, criss-crossing between the west and eastern shore to call at various piers and jetties on the way. Normally new vessels destined for Loch Lomond would sail or be towed up the River Leven but the Maid of the Loch was so large that she had to be partially dismantled prior to leaving the builders yard, transported by rail and reassembled on the slipway at Balloch. With a capacity for 1,000 passengers she was the largest vessel to operate in an inland waterway in Britain. (change pic*)
She was launched on 5 March 1953 and entered service in May of that year in time for the busy summer season. She had various ups and downs during her career and changed hands several times having belonged to Cal Mac (Caledonian MacBrayne) for a considerable period. Unfortunately escalating operating costs, dwindling passenger numbers, and mechanical breakdowns led Cal Mac to announce in December 1981 that the vessel would not sail the following season. She was sold soon after but several changes of ownership only resulted in the paddle-steamer decaying at Balloch Pier for the next decade.
Fortunately restoration is now well under way in an effort to restore the Maid of the Loch to her former glory. The historic ship currently features an on board restaurant which is a popular venue for functions and a cafe-bar, however, the long term aim is to see her sailing the loch once again.
Boating is obviously the main activity on Loch Lomond and for those who do not have a vessel of their own, a number of companies offer speedboat tours, charter services, motor boat, sailing dinghy and kayak hire. There are several main centres of activity, namely Balloch on the southern shore (below), Balmaha at the southeast corner and Luss on the west side. There are also large marinas at the Cameron House near Balloch and Ardlui at the loch`s north end.
Fishing info* pike etc
Loch Lomond`s islands
Just some of Loch Lomond`s many islands are currently featured here, but I hope to expand coverage in the not too distant future.
Inchailloch forms part of the Highland Boundary Fault, which marks the southern limit of glacier expansion at the end of the last Ice Age. It may not be the largest of Loch Lomond's islands but it lies very close to shore meaning it`s one of the most easy to access, mostly from nearby Balmaha, from where a Mail boat / passenger ferry operates year-round and can drop-off walkers. The more energetic can hire their own small craft or rent a kayak. There is a nature trail on the island and a camp site at Port Bawn bay at its south end. Port Bawn means `white port`.
Inchcailloch is heavily wooded making it scenically attractive and home to a variety of woodland birds and insects in spring and summer, plus animal, insect and plant species. I`ve encountered white Fallow Deer here and herds are occasionally spotted, usually very early in the morning, swimming across to Inchcailloch and other close-to-shore islands to feed.
The island, known to some as Inchebroida. was farmed until the early 19th century and produced good crops of wheat and oats. The ruins of the farm can still be seen. Also, for around 130 years, Inchcailloch was a source of oak with the timber processed at Balmaha to make wood vinegar (pyroligneous acid), wood tar, and dye.
The name Inchcailloch means `Isle of the old woman` or `Isle of the Hooded Woman` in the Scottish Gaelic language. The island is thought to be named after Saint Kentigerna, an Irish woman who went to Scotland from Ireland to preach and spread Christianity. She is not to be confused with St Kentigern. a male Saint who is more commonly known as St Mungo. Inchcailloch had a church dedicated to St Kentigerna, which was the parish church until 1621, but the graveyard remained in use until 1947. An old tale said that the bones of a woman were found under the altar stone during an excavation. The Clan MacGregor burial ground shown here includes some of Rob Roy's ancestors.
The Ranger Service on Loch Lomond operate four craft, one of which is Brigadier Pearson II. Launched in 2007, she is an 11 metre-long Redbay Stormforce RIB with a cabin fitted to protect her crew from the elements. One of the vessel`s tasks is servicing the navigation buoys dotted around the loch. She is seen here sailing north past Inchailloch.
Creinch is completely covered in ivy-clad trees including some wych elms, and in summer, when the undergrowth is at its full height and density, it can be difficult to penetrate its interior. This may have always been the case as there is no evidence of any human habitation. When viewed from Conic Hill above Balmaha, Creinch is seen as the third in a chain of four islands, the others being Inchcailloch, Torrinch and Inchmurrin with their unsubmerged tops forming part of the Highland Boundary Fault.
Inchmurrin additional text*
Inchgalbraith (below) is a tiny, heavily-wooded islet lying southwest of Inchmoan and close to the famed `Narrows`. It is thought that Inchgalbriath may have originally been a crannog, or artificial island created by iron Age dwellers as a place of safety, offering protection from both human and animal predators. These structures were usually linked to the shore by a causeway which would usually be hidden just below the surface, or the route could be blocked at other times to restrict access. There are several other crannogs in Loch lomond, some now appearing as just a heap of stones when the water level drops.
Somewhat surprisingly, Inchgalbraith is the site of a medieval castle and the available ground is almost entirely taken up by the structure`s footprint. It was a stronghold of the Galbraiths who owned Bannachra in Glen Fruin and much of the surrounding lands. The castle was already a ruin by the beginning of the 18th century and for many years Osprey nested on the highest part of the surviving walls. The birds were hunted to extinction during the Victorian era and needless to say have never returned to nest here, although they have since made a welcome return to Loch Lomond usually on passage to or from breeding sites further north.
Inchconnachan, as previously mentioned, is one of the cluster of islands that form the scenic, sheltered channel known as `the Narrows` and, of course, Inchconnachan is also where Loch Lomond`s Wallabies live. On either side of the Narrows, tucked in against the water`s edge against either this island or Inchtavannach on the other side, yachts and motor cruises berth in summer and day-trippers explore the wooded interiors or picnic on the shore.
Lady Arran, who was responsible for bringing the Wallabies to Inchonnachan, her holiday home, was formerly the fastest woman on water having broken her last power boat record at the age of 62. The bungalow, with its own jetty, was built in the 1920s by a man thought to have been a returning tea plantation owner, or a retired naval officer, possibly both as he was known as Admiral Sulivan. he lived there for a number of years until a finances, or lack of them, forced him to vacate the island.
The bungalow was subsequently bought by William C Buchanan, a Glasgow stockbroker. etc* At that time it was not common knowledge that Inchconnachan was home to a colony of Red-necked Wallabies, introduced in the 1970s by the then island`s owner, Lady Arran.
Despite harsh winters the animals thrived and it was later accepted that at least one of the animals may have swam the short distance to the mainland. There was talk recently of a cull as the animals were deemed to be damaging the fragile environment. I managed to snap this one on the island a few years ago and as far as I know they`re still hopping about.
The Wallabies tend to remain hidden in dense undergrowth but occasionally one or two are spotted at the waters edge, particularly late in the day when they come down to drink. (to edit*)
This heavily wooded island lies close to Loch Lomond`s western shore, just off the small settlement of Aldochlay south of Luss village and is one of the islands that form the channel known as `The Narrows.` Inchtavannach is one of the loch`s longest islands, stretching for almost 1.5 kilometres and rises to a height of 86 metres at its north end. This rocky wee bump, Tom na Clag or `Hill of the Bell`, rewards anyone making the effort to climb it with fine views to the north and south on a clear day. The name is thought to be a reference to a bell, positioned on what was the most practical spot, by monks from a monastery at the island`s south end, and was rung to summon the inhabitants of the parishes of Luss and Inchailloch to worship.
Inchtavannach additional text*
The cottages overlooking the small bay and private jetty at Aldochlay must be the most colourful on Loch Lomondside in spring and summer.
Inchmoan additional text*
Tarbet Isle is a tiny, wooded island that lies in the north half of Loch Lomond, close to it`s western shore. The rocky bump is topped with tall Caledonian pines which often serve as a roost for a small colony of gulls and Cormorants also favour Tarbet Isle for chilling and drying their wings. These birds are often spotted here, seemingly happily watching the constant procession of vehicles travelling on the busy A82.
The island takes its name from the nearby village and the isthmus on which it stands. In the 13th century, King Haakon Haakonarson of Norway sailed a small portion of his fleet up to the head of Loch Long, a sea loch, and had his men drag their longboats across the narrow strip of land to Loch Lomond where the vessels were re-floated.
The Vikings then carried out a number of raids on island and lochshore communities including the monastery on Inchtavannach and the church on Inchcailloch.
The Norsemen then followed the River Leven to its confluence with the Clyde and rejoined the main fleet, which was to come to grief soon afterwards at the Battle of Largs on 2 October 1263.
The conflict formed part of the Norwegian expedition against Scotland in 1263, in which the King of Norway attempted to reassert Norwegian sovereignty over the western seaboard of Scotland. By the mid-13th century, two Scottish kings, Alexander II and his son Alexander III, attempted to incorporate the region into their own realm and following the breakdown of negotiations, the Scots launched a military campaign. Haakon responded accordingly and by the end of September, his fleet occupied the Firth of Clyde, with most of the longboats at anchor off The Cumbraes.
Stormy weather drove several Norwegian vessels aground during the night, most beaching close to the present-day town of Largs. The Scots army arrived on 2 October, while the Norwegians were attempting a salvage operation. Fierce fighting ensued along the beach and for possession of a nearby mound and after several hours of skirmishing, the Scots withdrew enabling the Norwegians to re-board their ships. They returned the next morning to collect their dead.
The weather continued to deteriorate and Haakon's fleet, which was mostly intact, sailed to Orkney to over-winter. Although the battle has been romanticised by later historians as a great Scottish victory, Haakon`s forces remained formidable and he would have resumed his campaign in the spring, however, he suddenly grew ill and died.
Three years after Haakon's death, his successor, Magnus Haakonarson, signed a treaty, leasing Scotland's western seaboard to Alexander III. This lease became permanent, with the Kingdom of Scotland eventually ceasing to pay the Norwegian crown for the islands when Norway became distracted by civil wars.
Inveruglas Isle is one of two tiny islets close to the western shore at Inveruglas where the Sloy Power Station stands. There is also a Visitor Centre on the opposite (east) side of the road with a large parking area. This scenic location is a very popular spot with tourists and can quickly become congested during the peak summer months.
Add image & additional info*
Eilean Vow, also known as Island I Vow, is the most northerly of all Loch Lomond`s islands and lies in one of the narrowest and deepest parts. Despite its diminutive proportions, Eilean Vow is another such island that holds a stronghold, but the structure is difficult to see from the shore, especially when the trees are in full leaf. The MacFarlane Clan built the original castle here after their main seat of power on Inveruglas had been destroyed by Oliver Cromwell`s forces in the 17th century.
The MacFarlanes had a similar reputation to the MacGregors who`s territory lay on the opposite, eastern side of the loch and locals nicknamed the moon `MacFarlane`s Lantern` due to the advantages it gave the clansmen during midnight cattle rustling raids. It is also thought that the name Island I Vow, was derived from the Gaelic `Eilean a` Bho`meaning`Island of the Cow`, a possible reference to the MacFarlane`s dubious nocturnal activities. Further information can be found on this very interesting website: elanvow.org/index.html which covers the island`s archaeology, history, and natural heritage. There is also an excellent 3D model of the castle and details of an ongoing restoration project.