11 Places To Visit By Boat
A guide to 11 places in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs that you can get to by boat, including Balmaha, Luss, Inchcailloch and Loch Katrine
This guide features water transfers in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, places that you can visit by boat,. So for this list cruises, self-hire or guided bespoke boat services aren’t included.
For each of the 11 routes you will find information about the frequency of services, do bear in mind that things do change. Please contact the boat operator in advance in advance, just to be sure that there aren’t any cancellations or updated sailing times. A website link and contact telephone number is listed for each boat operator.
1) Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar (Loch Katrine)
The Steamship Sir Walter Scott has been in service for 120 years on Loch Katrine (01877 376315). Together with the Lady of the Lake (named after Scott’s famous poem) they operate numerous daily services from March to November, with additional special Christmas and New Year sailings.
At Trossachs Pier there is a gift shop, café, bike hire and a new Eco Camp, with lodges, camping pitches and motor home hook-up. As well as circular cruises there are also trips to Stronachlachar, where you will find a café by the pier.
A popular option is to take your bike on the boat to Stronachlachar and cycle back along the smooth tarmac road that runs alongside the loch. There is also the option to combine this with Cruise Loch Lomond’s Tarbet to Inversnaid service, providing the combination of cycling and cruising on and around two iconic Scottish lochs. (Click link below to read our Loch Katrine guide).
2) Luss to Balmaha (Loch Lomond)
Two boat operators run water bus services between the beautiful and very popular Loch Lomond villages of Balmaha and Luss.
At Balmaha there is the famous Oak Tree Inn, with restaurant, bar, coffee shop and ice cream parlour (try their home made Loch Lomond ice cream!). Close by is the much loved Tom Weir Statue and the path to the popular Conic Hill. Over in Luss there are many good restaurants, gift shops, options for water sports as well as a new Faerie Trail.
In Balmaha Cruise Loch Lomond’s service (01301 702356) is from the new pontoon (which has disabled access), whilst Sweeney’s Cruises (01389 752376) use the old pier. Both the pier and pontoon are next to each other can be reached by walking around the waters edge, following the route of the West Highland Way. In Luss both services use the pier. (Click the link below to read out guide to Balmaha).
Whether you are in Luss or Balmaha, do take the time to visit the other by boat. The trip is around 30 minutes, both operators run from May to September, with different levels of sailings depending on the month. (Click the link below to read our guide to Luss).
3) Luss to Inchcailloch Island
Cruise Loch Lomond run four sailings each day in the season from Luss to the beautiful Inchcailloch Island. You arrive at the southern end of the island at Port Bawn, which has a sandy beach and picnic tables. Walk across the island and follow a path to the summit for some outstanding views. A good time to visit is in May when the bluebells are out in force across the island. Read more about Inchcailloch Island at our guide (linked below).
4) Balmaha to Inchcailloch Island
Sandy MacFarlane of Balmaha Boatyard (01360 870214) runs an on-demand service to Inchcailloch Island from 9.30am-5pm. Follow the signs for the boatyard and wait for the next sailing. The short transfer will take you across to the north end of the island.
5) Tarbet to Inversnaid
Cruise Loch Lomond run this service. At Inversnaid there is the beautiful Arklet Falls, Rob Roy’s Cave and the RSPB reserve is a short walk from the Inversnaid Hotel. The RSPB cruise between Tarbet and Inversnaid runs once a week on a Tuesday, an RSPB warden will take you on a guided tour of the reserve. This is a must do experience, read our review at the link below.
6) Inveruglas to Inversnaid/Tarbet
Another Cruise Loch Lomond service around the northern end of Loch Lomond. Inveruglas is the start/end of the Loch Lomond & Cowal Way and Three Lochs Way. Also at Inveruglas is An Ceann Mòr a scenic viewpoint, read more about it and other great viewpoints in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs at the link below.
7) Ardlui to Ardleish
Ardleish can be found on the section of the West Highland Way between Inversnaid and Inverarnan. Hoist the ball to show that you wish to use the ferry, then at the appointed time (usually 10 past the hour) the ferry will come from Ardlui. (01301 702243)
At Ardlui there is a bar, restaurant and various forms of accommodation. There is also a marina with speedboat tours and wakeboarding. Ardlui can be a good overnight accommodation option for your West Highland Way experience.
Read more about the stretch of the West Highland Way, between Inversnaid and Inverarnan, where you will find this crossing.
8) Rowardennan to Luss
Cruise Loch Lomond run a service departing from the Youth Hostel at Rowardennan to Luss. The service leaves at 9.30am, with the return leaving Luss at 16.15, the crossing is 30 minutes. This is the only public transport service that goes to Rowardennan! with many people use this service as a way to get to the hostel.
9) Tarbet to Rowardennan
Similar to the Luss connection this Cruise Loch Lomond service links Tarbet with Rowardennan. The boat leaves Tarbet at 8.45am and arrives in Rowardennan at 9.30am, in the afternoon the boat leaves Rowardennan at 16.45 and returns at 17.30.
This is an ideal connection if you want to climb Ben Lomond. Read more about doing that at our guide, which is linked below.
10) Balloch to Luss
Sweeney’s Cruises sail from Balloch, very close to the train station. So for Luss this is the perfect way to get to the village.
11) Lake of Menteith - Inchmahome Island
Historic Scotland operate an on-demand ferry on Scotland’s only lake. The short crossing is to historic Inchmahome Priory. Famous visitors from history include Robert The Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots, in the 1800’s Walter Scott visited and wrote about the island. Read our guide linked below.
Of course as much about the place that you are visiting, a bit part of the experience is the journey itself. These boat routes range from 5 to 45 minutes, providing lots of different views of the loch. Let us know your favourites in the comments box below.
This article and accompanying photographs are by Paul Saunders for See Loch Lomond. Visit Paul’s other websites, Paul Saunders Marketing & Paul Saunders Photography, for his marketing, photography & video services in Loch Lomond and beyond.
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