RSPB Cruise to Inversnaid

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Cruise Loch Lomond - RSPB Cruise

Cruise Loch Lomond have numerous daily cruises from Tarbet to Inversnaid. Once a week the sailing includes a guided tour of the RSPB Reserve at Inversnaid. This is a review of a Cruise Loch Lomond RSPB cruise that I went on in May 2019. Check Cruise Loch Lomond’s website to find out more about this cruise service, including available dates, times, prices and booking information.

 

Tarbet

There is free parking and toilets at Tarbet, which is just off of the A82 (see map above) and you can grab a coffee at the Bonnie and Ben Cafe. If you are going on the RSPB Cruise and haven’t packed a lunch for later then I would strongly recommend buying a sandwich from the cafe, as the RSPB warden will take you to an excellent lunch spot. If you don’t get chance to visit the cafe there are drinks and snacks available aboard the boat.

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Tarbet to Inversnaid Cruise

The crossing from Tarbet to Inversnaid takes around 30 minutes and is of course a big part of the experience. Live commentary from the boat’s captain includes interesting facts and points of interest along the journey.

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Inversnaid Hotel

The distinctive Inversnaid hotel building will come into view shortly before arrival. As the boat gets closer you will get a superb view of the Arklet Falls, which are on the right hand side of the hotel. There will be a chance to get up close to these beautiful falls by foot just before the return cruise.

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RSPB Reserve - Inversnaid

The starting point for the guided tour of the Inversnaid Reserve was at the hotel car park where we were welcomed by two of the RPSB wardens. Full time warden Luke, along with seasonal resident volunteer Sam, introduced themselves and showed us the map of the reserve on one of the information panels.

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The walk to the reserve follows the path of the West Highland Way, along the banks of the loch. On the way Sam and Luke told us about the big 4 birds that we were likely to see and hear during our visit, they are Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Tree Pipit and Wood Warbler. Sam and Luke were carrying extra pairs of binoculars that they offered to lend to us for the walk.

RSPB Trail

We saw and heard all of the big 4, with the Wood Warbler having the most distinctive sound, like a spinning coin that is out of control. Luke was very impressive, sharing his excellent knowledge and passion for the birds and reserves. Luke is mostly based on the Gartocharn reserve, (see our guide linked below).

Even though it’s a relatively short distance between the two reserves they are very different in environment. Gartocharn features open grasslands, attracting wintering geese, whilst Inversnaid is higher with more woodlands.

Leaving the shoreline we followed the RSPB Trail sign. This involved a climb up a moderately steep path. As you will see from the following photographs the reward for this climb is an excellent viewpoint.

Viewpoint and Lunch!

The viewpoint at the end of the RSPB trail features one of the best views of Loch Lomond, one that I hadn’t seen before. You can look down the loch, as well as across to the Arrochar Alps and Loch Sloy Power station. This is where we all stopped for lunch and sat and admired the view, keeping an eye open for birds.

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West Highland Way Walkers

Just to mention that if you’re walking on the West Highland Way and can accommodate a bit of an extra climb and 30 minutes or so off of the trail then I highly recommend climbing to this viewpoint. To get to it walk past Inversnaid and carry on the normal West Highland Way path, go past a metal boat shed and then look out for the WHW marker post, just beyond it you will see the RSPB trail signed.

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Arklet Falls, Inversnaid

After completing the RSPB trail, it’s back to the hotel and the return cruise to Tarbet. You will still have enough time for a quick visit to Arklet Falls, one of the best waterfalls in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs.

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Cruise Loch Lomond’s RSPB Cruise

This is undoubtedly one of the best experiences in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs. A chance to take a boat trip and get a guided tour around an RSPB reserve. Luke was telling me that he is seeing many returning visitors, and that the trip attracts locals as much as holidaymakers. As well as identifying the birds on the trail Luke also told us about the challenges that the environment brings, with the pressure caused by the volume of deer and goats.

Here are some photographs from the return trip to Tarbet, including Tarbet Isle which you pass on the cruise back.

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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