Your National Park adventure starts IN CALLANDER


The main centre of population and tourism on the east side of the loch is the village of Balmaha. Directly behind to the east is Conic Hill, a ridge that marks the geological line where the highlands begin. This is a congested place in summer, serving as a starting point for boat excursions round Loch Lomond's islands and for day trippers wishing to explore the area.

The name Balmaha, like many placenames in the highlands, is derived from Gaelic, in this case St Maha's Place which suggests the village may have ancient origins, perhaps as a hermit's residence. Today it is a popular tourist destination for picnickers and day trippers from Glasgow as well as walkers on exploring Conic Hill and the West Highland Way. Boat trips leave from Balmaha for Inchcailloch Island which is clearly visible just off Balmaha.

With the upsurge in tourism after Sir Walter Scott's books based in this area were published in the 1800s, Balmaha became a frequent stopping-off point for the steamers which used to sail Loch Lomond. The Maid of the Loch was the last of these and Balmaha's steamer pier disappeared in 1971.

Today, Balmaha is a very busy place, often congested unless you catch it out of season. Its small piers are home to a wide variety of leisure craft.

One source of a steady stream of travellers is Conic Hill, which overlooks the village from the east, as they follow the route of the West Highland Way.

The second group of travellers passing through Balmaha - usually earlier in the day, are on their way to the parking area at Rowardennan at the foot of Ben Lomond. Ben Lomond is the most southerly Munro. Being so easily accessed from the central belt, Ben Lomond is also one of the most popular.

The importance of walking in this area is demonstrated at the village shop which displays signs indicating stocks of blister plasters, socks, knee and ankle supports, waterproofs, midge repellent, sun cream, maps, guide books and many more items required by walking enthusiasts.