Drymen to Balmaha


West Highland Way   Travel-Lite

Drymen to Balmaha – 6 1/2 miles (10.0 km)

On leaving Drymen on the West Highland way you head for the Forestry Commission car park and start the walk through the Garadhban Forest (pronounced Garavan). This is a beautiful part of the highland walk, on good forestry paths and tracks. The Garadhban Forest walk ends at a high fence with a stile, and opens onto moorland. The knobbly bulk of Conic Hill rises before you, concealing the village of Balmaha on Loch Lomond.

After crossing the moor, you start on Conic Hill. The hill is about a thousand feet high, fairly steep and the going is rough and heathery. As you make your way up the steep slope, you realise that Conic Hill is not conical at all, but is a ridge over a series of hump backs. The line of the ridge carries out into the waters of Loch Lomond and is a string of islands. The spine, formed by the hill and the islands marks the Highland Boundary Fault, recognised by the geologists as the division between the Highlands and Lowlands.

On reaching the top of Conic Hill you are rewarded with a truly superb view. Across the moor lie the dark trees of the Garadhban Forest and the view back is down Blane valley. Below lies the mouth of the river Endrick, and the nature reserve of the Endrick marshes. This attracts hosts of migratory birds and even the osprey has been seen on the loch. Almost in line with Conic Hill and the string of islands, are the Arran Peaks, and further to the north-west, the Luss hills and the Arrochar Alps. The great bulk of Ben Lomond gets closer and as you walk along you soon start following the loch shore.

On descending Conic Hill you move on to rough, bracken path which then takes you to a stile at the edge of the woods above Balmaha. From here you have a pleasant walk through the tress and down into the village. Balmaha, is a small village but is a busy place in the summer tourist season. It is a good place for the walker to stock up on supplies. For the next twenty miles you will be walking on Loch Lomond side along the West Highland Way.