A personal favourite for easy gentle walking. A trip to this wooded island is good at any time of year but May when the Central Valley is a carpet of bluebells and late October for Autumn colours are particularly good.
There are three routes across the island from the North Pier where the boat from Balmaha lands you, to Port Bawn with its sandy beach and picnic area. The shortest route is Central Valley which will take about 15 – 20 mins, the other two paths are the Low Path around the west side and the Summit Path via the highest point. The suggested walk route is just one possible option. To get the most from your visit the interactive story map or PDF leaflet is recommended reading. This guide can be used in conjunction with the numbered information points found around the island.
The island is accessed from Balmaha where the Balmaha Boatyard runs an on demand service for the 5 minute crossing. During the Summer months there is a ranger service on the island based at Port Bawn.
- Distance: 3 km / 1.8 miles
- Ascent: 150m / 500 feet
- Terrain: Woodland paths (unsurfaced)
- Start / finish: Balmaha Boatyard
The wee boats from Balmaha drop you off at the North Pier from where a set of stone steps takes you up to the path network. Almost immediately you reach the first junction where the Summit Path goes off to the left. However, stay on the main path for now passing through oak woodland carpeted with bluebells. When you reach the next path junction go right following the sign for the Low Path. A short diversion from the main path takes you to an old burial ground and site of a church dedicated to Saint Kentigerna.
After exploring the church yard, continue on the low path where you will pass the remains of settlements from the days when the island was farming country. As you start to approach Port Bawn at the south end of the island, you catch glimpses of views north across Loch Lomond. Once you reach Port Bawn, the views open up completely. Port Bawn offers a picnic area and composing toilets.
Leave Port Bawn heading inland on the Central Valley Path until you reach a path junction where the Summit Path heads off to your right. Follow the path up the gentler side of the hill (it’s not too far so just take your time as it’s worth a bit of effort). Soon the 85m summit is reached, with a welcome bench. From here the views up the loch are outstanding on a good day and even on a not so good day it is easy to appreciate what they would be like.
The summit path continues down the other side although it is a bit steeper than the path by which you ascended. There is a bench part way down for a welcome stop and views across to the lowlands. You will soon rejoin the Central Valley Path where you turn right to head back to the North Pier.