Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Upper Stoneymollan Road

With the weather taking a turn for the better today, we thought we'd better get out and try and walk off some of the food we've been gorging ouselves on over the past week or so. The weather has been pretty awful, with lots of rain and high winds, and it's been difficult to muster any enthusiasm for venturing out in it.

The days are short at this time of year and we're very lazy so it had to somewhere close by and not too strenuous. We opted to head for Balloch at the foot of Loch Lomond with the intention of wandering up the Stoneymollan Road, an old cart track running from Balloch over the hill to Cardross on the Firth of Clyde.

Parking in Old Luss Road, it's a very straightforward walk. Just take the path signed "Footpath to Cardross" on the Lower Stoneymollan Road and keep going until you want to stop or hit the Firth of Clyde at Cardross. It's a five mile long walk if you go from end to end (10 if you don't have a spare car in Cardross).

The first stage of the walk leads you up Lower Stoneymollan Road, past Drumkinnon Farm and Glendale Kennels (you'll easily recognise this by the noise of dogs barking) and onto a little bridge over the A82. Once you're over the bridge, you're on Upper Stoneymollan Road so just keep going up. There are a few good views over Loch Lomond and Drumkinnon Bay on the way up the road.

Loch LomondBen Lomond and Loch Lomond from Upper Stoneymollan Road

Once past the gate at Upper Stoneymollan Farm, you get onto the old cart track which leads on up the hill and onto open moorland beside a roaring burn. Again, there are some very good views of Ben Lomond and Loch Lomond from up here and looking back, you'll get some good views east over Balloch and beyond.

At the top of the moor, there's another gate leading the track through a conifer plantation for about half a mile. The going is pretty reasonable here and not too soggy underfoot as can be the case on forest tracks. As you emerge from the forest at the other end of the track, there's yet another gate and a fine view out over the Firth of Clyde to Port Glasgow on the other side. From there, the track wanders on down to Cardross but we decided to turn back, having had enough exercise for one day. If you're going on to Cardross, then take the left fork on the way down or you'll end up at the crematorium, almost a mile northwest of the village.

efore we headed back home we dropped in to Loch Lomond Shores in Drumkinnon Bay at the foot of the loch as we thought we might get a few good photos of the Ben as the sunlight was starting to fade. I'm always amazed at the number of people here as it was pretty busy. I expect the good weather had everyone out for a few hours.

Loch Lomond Shores is a tourist abomination that they have the nerve to call the gateway to the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. The National Park does have its Gateway Centre here but all the rest has spawned around that and basically, it's a collection of seriously overpriced shops, stores and restaurants aimed squarely at lightening the pockets of any tourists gullible enough to venture in. There was even a carnival merry-go-round blaring out music! I mean, how does that fit in with the image of a national park?

Maid of the LochThe Maid of the Loch

That said, if you avoid the tourist traps, it's a nice enough location to wander around the foot of the loch and up to the pier where you might see some boats or the "Maid of the Loch", the last paddle steamer built in Britain. The views up the loch towards Ben Lomond are excellent as well.

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