Cycle Balloch to Drymen
National Number 7 Cycle Route
This is the first of a series of guides about the section of the National Number 7 Cycle Route that passes through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs. The complete route runs from Sunderland in England to Inverness, a total of 601 miles. The Glasgow to Inverness stretch is popular for cycling holidays and goes through both of Scotland's national parks. The Loch Lomond section starts at Balloch and ends just after Killin.
As with our guides to long distance walks we have broken down this article to feature just one section. So hopefully it is useful if you are either just cycling this section, or planning a longer distance cycle of the National Number 7.
So this article reviews my cycle of the 10 miles between Balloch and Drymen, featuring some points of interest and potential detours along the way. I love cycling but am not your hard core lycra clad serious cyclist! So as you'll see these guides are as much as about the things to see, as the route to take. As we publish more articles about the rest of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Number 7 sections we will link them together.
The route from Glasgow goes through Dumbarton and then along the River Leven and into Balloch, the beginning of the National Number 7's journey through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs. As you arrive in Balloch you will pass Sweeney's Cruises where you could stop for a circular cruise on the loch. There is also a Visit Scotland information centre nearby, with cycle racks outside. There are places to eat and drink nearby, or you could go a little further to the nearby Loch Lomond Shores.
Balloch Castle Country Park
If you're just starting the Number 7 route at Balloch then don't worry there are lots of signs for it throughout the route so you won't get lost. The signs will initially direct you into Balloch Castle Country Park, where just a very short distance off of the route is a walled garden (look out for the signs for it). Take the chance for a quick stop to capture a photograph or two.
Back on the route and as you can see from the photograph below it's a quiet road, which is nice and smooth for cycling on. There are in-fact excellent cycling conditions throughout this stretch. You may be tempted to stop and take a photograph of Loch Lomond whilst in the park. This is a good idea as it is the closest that you will get to Loch Lomond itself on the entire route.
As you head out of Balloch Castle Country Park you will go past Robin House, a Children's Hospice and inspirational charity. The route then takes you to the A811, take it easy down the steep hill as it is just before the main road, so allow plenty of time to brake! For the 10 miles of the route you have now done around 3, with 7 to go until Drymen.
John Muir Way
A few steepish hills to climb, but generally there are wide open spaces and good cycling conditions along quiet country lanes. After a few miles you'll see a turning for Gartocharn and in the distance Duncryne Hill, also known as 'The Dumpling', a little cycling detour and a short hill climb will be rewarded with excellent views of Loch Lomond.
As you can see from a close up of one of the signs this part of the National Number 7 cycle route is also on the John Muir Way. The John Muir Way is a long distance walk, coast to coast across Scotland from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar (John Muir's hometown) in the east, a total of 134 miles.
At the age of 10 John Muir emigrated to America with his family. A passion for the outdoors and strong views on conservation was ultimately responsible for saving Yosemite Valley. His efforts and determination ultimately led to the establishment of America's National Parks. This long distance trail recognises the huge contribution to conservation made by this Scot, often referred to as the 'Father of the National Parks'.
Lee Stetson who you is pictured above plays the part of John Muir at various events around the world. I met Lee when he visited the Tom Weir Statue in Balmaha, which is a fitting tribute to another famous Scottish mountaineer and explorer. As you can see from the logo of the John Muir Way Lee has a strong resemblance to John Muir.
Just before arriving at the village of Croftamie you leave the road and cycle on a path, which formerly was tracks for the old Forth & Clyde Junction Railway which connected Balloch and Stirling. The last passenger trains ran on this route in 1934, with the line ultimately closing in 1965. As you cross over the road the private house that you can see was formerly Drymen Station.
The narrow bridge over Endrick Water makes an entertaining feature to the cycle! It's pretty narrow, so you have to pay close attention to your steering, so there's not much chance to take in the view. The path connects shortly after with the route of the West Highland Way. You'll see one of the Millennium Markers, there are 1,000 of these across the country, all different and marking mile points on cycle routes.
This winding road is the final stretch before the village of Drymen. Look out for the site of the old quarry on your left, where you can just see Loch Lomond and its islands in the distance.
Back over the A811 and then a short downhill cycle of Gartness Road and it's the village of Drymen. The village has a Village Shop, small supermarket, a couple of pubs (The Clachan and Drymen Inn) and two hotels. So there are plenty of places to eat and drink. There are also many accommodation options too.
So that's the Balloch to Drymen route, along the National Cycle Route, Number 7, a total of 10 miles. Next it's onto Aberfoyle, passing through Gartness, that guide is coming soon.
If you're cycling in Scotland here is a very useful book.
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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