West Highland Way 3: Rowardennan - Inverarnan Walking

Following the wooded east shoreline all the way up the long northern reach of Loch Lomond, from the foot of Ben Lomond to Glen Falloch, this is (for my money) the best stage of the WHW and one of the most beautiful single days out to be had on any long distance trail in the UK. It's quite rugged and remote-feeling at times, with great views out over the water to the Arrochar 'Alps'. With luck you might spot (or smell) feral wild goats in the woods.

The Arrochar 'Alps' from the east side of Loch Lomond  © Dan Bailey -
The Arrochar 'Alps' from the east side of Loch Lomond
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Detailed description

NS3593199271 Start at the car park at the end of the public road in Rowardennan, or from the Youth Hostel a little further north along the shore. Take the track just inland from the Youth Hostel, passing some cottages then following the wooded shore before climbing uphill behind Ptarmigan Lodge. A little while later there's a choice of route: a) An unsigned path that cuts down left to follow a very rough exploratory course along the densely wooded loch shore, eventually passing Rowchoish bothy to rejoin the main route, or b) the main WHW, a much easier more level 4WD track high up in the trees above the loch, which eventually descends to meet option a) nearer the water.

NN3389104698 Once the two options have re-joined the WHW continues as a rougher trail along the rocky tree-lined shore - a really idyllic stretch. Pass the private cottage at Cailness, and about 3km further on cross a footbridge over the raging waterfall at Inversnaid to reach the big ugly hotel - the only point along this whole stretch of the loch to have public road access. Note: the hotel has its own private boat service across the loch to the A82 at Inveruglas.

NN3374308871 Continue north along the shore on a path with lots of little wiggles and ups-and-downs, passing through yet more scenic woods and rocky bits. Rob Roy's Cave is worth a quick off-trail detour - though it's really just a dank hole among a pile of huge rocks. Pass a meadow at Pollochro, where the path then gets a bit rougher for a while, and a while later climb over a headland backing a little bay to reach Doune bothy.

NN3324714417 Continue north. Just before reaching the head of Loch Lomond the WHW peels off inland, climbing over a pass to descend to the campsite at Beinglas, beneath an impressive waterfall. From here the historic Drover's Inn is just across the River Falloch - one of the best pubs on the WHW and a must for fans of motheaten taxidermy.

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