Balmaha is one of our favourite places in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs. Over recent years it has become increasingly popular. So much so that on sunny days the large car park quickly fills up.
Getting to Balmaha
As mentioned, if you’re driving it’s best come early to be sure of being able to park. You can also arrive by boat, using the water bus service from Luss. A new cycle path is just in the process of being completed which will connect the villages of Drymen and Balmaha. A bus service between Alexandria and Balmaha runs throughout the day, you could get a train to Balloch and then use this bus service to get to Balmaha. Finally, you can walk the 7 miles between Drymen and Balmaha, over Conic Hill, following the route of the West Highland Way.
Balmaha Car Park
Car parking is currently free. If you are walking from Drymen on the West Highland Way this will be where you arrive in Balmaha. For electric cars there is a charging point in the car park. The bus stop is at the entrance to the car park.
Loch Lomond National Park Information Centre
The National Park’s flagship visitor centre is in the car park. The rangers are incredibly knowledgeable, friendly and helpful, so feel free to ask their advice on things to see and do and pick up leaflets and maps. You can also find information and exhibits about the very interesting wildlife, nature and geology that is found around Balmaha.
There are camping restrictions in place along the eastern shores of Loch Lomond and the rangers will be able to offer suggestions of places that you are allowed to camp within the National Park.
Recently local resident Joe Twaddle gifted to Balmaha a talking boulder. This can found next to the entrance to the car park. Turn the handle to listen to local information about the area. A very innovative and eco friendly addition to the village.
The Oak Tree, Village Shop & St Mocha
Across from the car park you can see the very popular Oak Tree Inn. The Fraser family built and opened their popular bar and restaurant in 1997, and have been the driving force behind improvements to Balmaha. Their contribution has been transformational, helping to improve the look and facilities available in the village.
Over the years their business has grown, now offering B&B accommodation both above the inn and in a series of nearby cottages. They also have a village shop, thoughtfully stocked with food, drink and other items that you may need if you are camping, staying in self-catering facilities, walking or just visiting for the day.
To the left of the shop is St Mocha, their coffee shop and ice cream parlour. Coffee is roasted on site (ask to see the facilities) by their Loch Lomond Coffee Co. bags of roasted coffee can be bought, with each one providing a donation to support red squirrel preservation in Balmaha. Also made on site is their delicious Loch Lomond ice cream.
Along from the Oak Tree, towards the loch is Weir’s Rest. Up until the end of 2014 this had just been a piece of unused ground, now it has been beautifully developed into Weir’s Rest. This is to celebrate the life of Tom Weir.
Tom was a famous Scottish climber and TV presenter. His long running TV series ‘Weir’s Way’ introduced the wonders of the Scottish scenery to millions of Scots. The beautiful statue of Tom is much loved and photographed. You can read more about Weir’s Rest in our separate guide (click the button below).
Do read the story boards to find out more about Tom Weir and Balmaha’s wonderful nature and landscapes that he loved so much.
Between The Oak Tree Building and Weir’s Rest there is a road that leads to Balmaha Boatyard. The MacFarlane family have been operating their service of beautiful wooden boats for generations. They run the iconic island post boat service, delivering mail to the inhabitants of the Loch Lomond islands.
This is where the on-demand ferry to nearby Inchcailloch Island operates from. If you’ve been reading our guides and looking at our social media feeds you will know that we absolutely love this island. Read our guide to Inchcailloch Island (click the button below).
Head back around the bay, past Weir’s Rest. This is the typical postcard view of the village, taking in its natural bay, with boats and Inchcailloch Island in the distance. Here you can also get access to the water and it is a good place for children to feed the ducks.
Photography Training Courses
A quick plug now for our photography training courses. We run these throughout the seasons, with the outdoors and wonderful scenery acting as our classroom. We teach camera skills and settings and take the mystery out of camera modes and jargon over a 2.5 hour walking tour. They are appropriate for all levels. To find out more read our guide below.
Balmaha Millennium Forest Walk
Go back to the car park, not that this is the end of our time in Balmaha, in fact far from it. From the car park you can take a walk through the Millennium Forest. Click below for a map or get one from the National Park Visitor Centre.
On the route is Craigie Fort, where you are rewarded for your short climb with some stunning views across to the islands of Loch Lomond and along to Ben Lomond.
I mentioned that Balmaha’s car park gets very busy. On a nice weekend day (whatever the time of year) you will find many people climbing Conic Hill. Start in the car park and head through the forest.
Once you clear the forest you will find some steps to climb, get your breath back once you’ve climbed them and turn around to take in the wonderful view. The more you climb the better the view gets.
At the top of Conic Hill look down on Loch Lomond and its islands. You can also see the effect of the Highland Boundary Fault Line. This runs across Scotland from Arran in the west to Stonehaven in the east and marks the start of the Scottish Highlands. Discover more about this in the National Park Visitor Centre.
The views here are outstanding, and you’ll understand why this is such a popular walk. This is on the route of the West Highland Way and one of the most outstanding features of the long-distance walk.
Back now along the bay and a walk on the route of the West Highland Way. Follow the dead-end road that runs alongside the bay, at its end you will see the old pier. Sweeney’s Cruises run their water bus service in the summer months to and from Luss using this pier.
The pathway continues along the banks of the loch, this is the stretch of the West Highland Way that eventually leads to Rowardennan. Shortly after the pier is a new pontoon, from here Cruise Loch Lomond operate island cruises and their water bus services to and from Luss between March and October.
There are lots of beaches to explore along the loch side path, together with excellent views across to nearby islands.
A long article as there is so much to cover in this beautiful village. Here is a summary of my Top 10 of things to see, do and discover in Balmaha.
1. Go on an Island Cruise (Cruise Loch Lomond)
2. Visit the Tom Weir Statue
3. Enjoy Loch Lomond Ice Cream (St Mocha)
4. Take the ferry to Inchcailloch Island (Balmaha Boatyard)
5. Learn about the Highland Boundary Fault Line (National Park Visitor Centre)
6. Eat in the Oak Tree Inn
7. Take the lochside path and explore beaches
8. See the view from Craigie Fort
9. Drink Loch Lomond Coffee (St Mocha)
10. Climb Conic Hill
The Oak Tree Inn
Loch Lomond Waterfront
Stay in Balmaha
Here are two videos that we have produced for The Oak Tree Inn and Loch Lomond Waterfront, the best places to stay in Balmaha.
I hope you enjoyed reading about Balmaha. Enjoy a visit to this beautiful village on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond.
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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