I dropped in at Balmaha bunkhouse after taking the train from Glasgow and then the bus from Balloch. Straight away, out of Balloch, the scenery changed. High mountains on one side, too tall to see the tops from the bus window, and the glorious blue and green of Loch Lomond on the other side. The banks – those bonny banks of song – were rich with green woodland, and the loch was dominated by an archipelago. This took me by surprise, I don’t think I knew that Loch Lomond was so heavily islanded. The biggest island is Inchmurrin, but the one closest to Balmaha is Inchcailloch.
You can take the water ferry all up and down Loch Lomond, or hire a canoe from my host at Balmaha Bunkhouse but I chose to pay for one of the charming little boats to carry me across.
Visitors often jump off at the southern end, where there is a toilet block and space for your barbecue, but I climbed off the boat onto a rock jetty with rough steps cut from the face of the cliff. As I said goodbye to my transport, I genuinely felt that this island was mine and mine alone. This stayed with me as I climbed up and through the trees, following an ancient funeral route from the jetty to the clan graveyard by a ruined church. I paused there and at the peak of the hill, spellbound by the misty islands across the water. I had met no-one in all the time I explored.
Later my boat returned and I disembarked on the wooden pier right outside Balmaha Bunkhouse.
When can I go back?