Loch Lomond Islands (North)

Portnellan Farm, Gartocharn

Portnellan Farm, Gartocharn

Loch Lomond’s Islands

This is part 2 of my island adventure. A trip around (and in some cases onto) Loch Lomond’s 22 named islands in a speedboat. The first outing was the southern islands, including Inchmurrin, Inchcailloch, Inchconnachan and Inchmoan. If you haven’t read that article it is linked below.

Looking at the map below you can see the area that we are covering, starting just south of Rowardennn and Ben Lomond and going right up to the red marker at Ardlui, close to the top of Loch Lomond.

 

Portnellan Farm

Our first trip was going to take some beating, it had been an amazing adventure. But I knew less about the islands at the northern end and wanted to discover to more about them. I had recently walked from Rowardennan to Inverarnan, along the route of the West Highland Way so was keen to land on the islands that I’d seen from the walk.

Once again I was a passenger on a speedboat tour, operated by Chris Scott-Park of Portnellan Farm. Above and below you can see the stunning view from the family farm. Over the years this view and access to the loch has allowed them to diversify and add tourism to their business.

The farm is at the southern end of the loch at Gartocharn, located next to Ross Priory. Chris runs regular speedboat tours, as well as renting kayaks and paddle boards. We boarded the boat via the jetty that he and his father David had built. David joined us for the trip and as we were preparing to set off we saw an osprey fly over.

Portnellan Farm, Gartocharn

Portnellan Farm, Gartocharn

Watersport Activities

If you are interested in a speedboat tour, contact Chris. Prices vary dependent on how long you would like out on the water. You might want to include time to explore an island, enjoy a picnic or call in at one of the Loch Lomond pubs that are near a jetty! Check out the Portnellan Farm website, Facebook and Instagram pages to find out more about the activities.

Ross Islands, Loch Lomond

Ross Islands, Loch Lomond

The Ross Islands

These small islands marked the end of our trip around the southern end of Loch Lomond. They are opposite Luss and a couple of miles south of Rowardennan. Like many of the islands there isn’t a suitable place to land a boat. However, we were already pushing on, heading north to visit the islands that I had been keen to explore for a long time.

Ben Lomond, Rowardennan

Ben Lomond, Rowardennan

Rowardennan

Whilst our prime focus was on the islands, as you can see from the photographs in this article we were also drawn to the many points of interest along the shore. We slowed down just ahead of Rowardennan to admire the beaches. Not far from them is the route of the West Highland Way, which we will be following until the point that it reaches the northern end of the loch.

Rowardennan, Loch Lomond

Rowardennan, Loch Lomond

Rowardennan Youth Hostel

We were getting closer to Ben Lomond and it would have been an ideal (but warm) day to climb it. Not a cloud in the sky to interrupt the view. Down at water level is the jetty used by Cruise Loch Lomond for their water bus connections to and from Rowardennan. This is a popular hostel, mainly due to its excellent location and views.

Rowardennan Youth Hostel

Rowardennan Youth Hostel

Cruise Loch Lomond, Near Tarbet

Cruise Loch Lomond, Near Tarbet

Cruise Loch Lomond

Cruise Loch Lomond are based at Tarbet and we saw quite a few of their fleet of boats around this part of the loch.

Ben Arthur - ‘The Cobbler’

Ben Arthur - ‘The Cobbler’

The Cobbler

Crossing to the other side of the loch, heading north towards Tarbet, we had a hazy view of Ben Arthur, The Cobbler. You can see the distinctive shaped summit, which gives it its name.

Tarbet Isle, Loch Lomond

Tarbet Isle, Loch Lomond

Tarbet Isle

As you’ll find out from the commentary on a boat cruise past Tarbet Isle, that this is also known as Honeymoon Island. The idea being that if newlyweds could manage a week living together on this small island then the chances of the marriage lasting were quite high!

Inveruglas Isle, Loch Lomond

Inveruglas Isle, Loch Lomond

Inveruglas Isle

Our first stopping point was Invergulas Isle and the opportunity to explore the former territory of the Clan MacFarlane, complete with ruined castle.

An Ceann Mòr, Inveruglas, Loch Lomond

An Ceann Mòr, Inveruglas, Loch Lomond

Inveruglas Pyramid - An Ceann Mòr

There’s a good view from both the island and Chris’s speedboat of An Ceann Mòr the pyramid at Invergulas. Read more about it at the link below.

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Eilean I Vow

We travelled from Inveruglas Isle to Eilean I Vow, or Island I Vow as it is also known. Just like Inveruglas Isle there is a ruined castle to explore, in fact this one was built in 1577 to replace the one on Inveruglas Isle. Today it is protected as a special site and there has been archaeology work in recent years.

The castle walls were covered in ivy, making it hard to spot them from the water. You can climb into a former room of the castle.

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Ardlui

Next stop was at the northern end of the loch and Ardlui. Here you can see the hotel from the water, with occasional wakeboarder and water skier. Loch Lomond Wakeboard are based at Ardlui Marina. Also in operation was the ferry that connects the Ardlui Marina with Ardleish Farm on the other side of the loch. Ardleish is on the path of the West Highland Way.

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Rob Roy’s Cave

By now we had seen all of the islands, but on the return trip there was the chance to see a few landmarks. First off it’s Rob Roy’s Cave, on the West Highlands Way just north of Inversnaid. This was where legendary outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor hid, presumably the word Cave wasn’t written on it in his day, otherwise the secret hiding place wouldn’t have been as effective!

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Inversnaid

Just to the right of the Inversnaid Hotel are the magnificent Arklet Falls.

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West Highland Way

It’s a tough walk along the section of the West Highland Way from Rowardennan to Inverarnan. Here’s the view from the loch.

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That’s a review of the islands at the northern end of Loch Lomond. Very interesting to see some of the former clan territories and their ruined castles.

About...

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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