On the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

posted in: Scotland 2023 | 0

After my four days in Glasgow where I was so jammed with activities that I couldn’t keep up with the blogging, it’s going to be a lot easier now that I’m on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

There are still stories and history to share, but a lot less. Today I took a driving tour around Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. It was just me, my guide, Calum, and one other traveler, a young woman from Toronto named Darcy. The tour was through Scotland’s Wild, and it was an excellent day, in spite of the weather. And that’s pretty much the entire TL;DR version of the day.

This is Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. We started in Balloch, at the southern tip of Loch Lomond, and went north along the eastern edge of the park, passing through Balmaha, Aberfoyle, Kilmahog, Balquhidder, and as far as the Falls of Dochart by Killin. Then we drove west through Crianlarich, and south back to Balloch along the west side of Loch Lomond.


I haven’t really talked much about the weather.

In Glasgow it didn’t matter so much if it was a wee bit drizzly and overcast and cold. And anyway, I came to Scotland at this time of year to get away from the oppressive heat back home. So I don’t mind the cold.

And it really didn’t rain that much in Glasgow.

Today it rained quite a bit. Not very hard, and not all the time, but there were periods of steady showers.

It was also very overcast and foggy, and that obscured some of the views. We really didn’t see any of the mountains surrounding Loch Lomond. The sun finally peaked out from behind the clouds in the last half hour of the day, too late to really see anything.

But in a way, the foggy weather enhanced the experience of the day. This is Scotland, afterall. There is a certain allure to Scottish mist.

We took a hike in the rain from the glen below, at Balquhidder, up to what was supposed to be an amazing viewpoint at Creag an Tuirc. This is all we could see. That’s Loch Lomond in the grey area of the photo.

What do you think? Is there a certain Scottish allure to that? Or would it have been better to see it on a clear day? Here’s a photo of what it would have looked like in the sunshine.

Things we did see

Happily, it wasn’t all a blank canvas. Here is a selection of things that were visible.

Loch Lomond near Balmaha
A pretty scene of the River Forth at Aberfoyle 


Aberfoyle is know as a place with a strong connection to the fairy realm. We visited a churchyard where we found the grave of Reverend Robert Kirk.

Reverend Kirk was pastor at this church.

Reverend Kirk wrote a book called The Secret Commonwealth, in which he recounts stories of people, including himself, who had encounters with fairies. He believed that nearby Doon Hill was a gateway to the fairy world, and would go for frequent evening walks there.

Reverend Kirk died in 1691 [sic] of unknown circumstances when he went to Doon Hill during the night and collapsed. Some people found him there and brought him home where he died. It is most likely that he suffered a heart attack. It is said that Reverend Kirk actually didn’t die on the hill but was carried away by the fairies. Thereafter Reverend Kirk appeared as a vision in front of his cousin Graham. He told him that he was not dead and that he would appear at the christening of Graham’s child. For Reverend Kirk it would be the only way to come back to life. When he appeared at the christening, Graham was to throw an iron dagger over Kirk. This would release him from captivity. Graham was too scared though and couldn’t do it. Now it is believed that Reverend Kirk’s soul is still inside the lone Scots Pine tree on Doon Hill.


Hairy coos

Highland cattle, better known to tourists and locals alike as “hairy coos,” are a breed of beef cattle that originated in the Scottish Highlands. They are friendly and cute as a button. We got to feed them.


I’m pretty certain that Honey and Angus will never be on anyone’s dinner plate.


In addition to the hike up to the “viewpoint” I mentioned earlier, we visited another churchyard in Balquhidder.

Balquhidder Parish Church, built in the 19th century, replaced a 17th-century church that was in disrepair.
Graveyard adjacent to the church. At left is all that remains of the older church.
The grave of Rob Roy, his wife, and two sons. 

By the way, there’s a lovely song about Balquhidder. Have a listen.

Falls of Dochart

The River Dochart flows 21 kilometers and empties into Loch Tay at Killin. Just before it reaches the loch are the Falls of Dochart, where we stopped. 

Bridge over the River Dochart
Old mill on the River Dochart
I was so excited to see the hills peeking through the mist!

Loch Tay empties into the River Tay, the longest river in Scotland at nearly 200 kilometers. It empties into the North Sea at Dundee, where I will encounter it in a few weeks. Maybe some of the water I saw at the falls today I’ll see again in Dundee.


Our final stop today was in Luss, a cute village on the west shore of Loch Lomond. This is a conservation village, with 24 protected buildings. It has 120 residents and attracts more than 750,000 visitors a year.

Ben Lomond, the tallest Munro (mountain over 3,000 feet) is right there behind the mist.

Bach in Balloch

We got back to Balloch a little after 5pm. There was a big event in Balloch today, the Glasgow Kilt Walk. Three different walks for charity took place. The longest was 22.7 miles from Glasgow to Balloch; a shorter route, 14.4 miles, started in Clydebank; the shortest was 3 miles starting and ending in Balloch.

When we got back here the streets were mobbed with walkers. I didn’t even try to find somwhere for dinner; I went out to a nearby fish & chips place and got some to go, which I enjoyed happily in my hotel room.

The Monday weather is supposed to be cloudy to partly sunny, so maybe I’ll get a glimpse of Ben Lomond. I plan to have a relaxing day in Balloch before departing Tuesday for my next destination.

More photos from the day today are here.

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