The walk up Conic Hill was our first proper dog walk in Scotland and suffice to say everything people tell you about the country having stunning scenery is true. Granted we were exceptionally lucky with the weather, which showed Loch Lomond off at it’s best, but I imagine that even on a grotty day this walk is lovely. So if you are looking for walk who’s rewards far outweigh the effort required (although you will get a bit out of puff!) the this Loch Lomond dog walk is for you.
Balmaha is a pretty little village located on the banks of the loch within The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The walk starts in the car park, which is extremely easy to find as you drive into the village (map). The car park is large and is home to the National Park’s flagship centre. During opening hours on site rangers are able to provide all the information you need to enjoy your visit to the area, but you don’t need their help to enjoy the walk up Conic Hill as the path is either well sign-posted or very obvious. We just wandered aimlessly along gawping at the scenery and we didn’t get lost! The Centre also has internet access, children’s activities, a play area and public toilets (30p!).
The path up the hill leaves from the very back of the car park close to an information board. (streetview) It immediately divides at a t-junction…you need to turn right here along the track, and at the next junction turn left. This section of the walk is marked by the Thistle symbols of the West Highland Way. The path climbs up passing through a lovely cool woodland area with lofty trees swaying in the breeze above a carpet of lush green ferns. You can hear water trickling down the hillside here and there, and on a sunny morning the dappled light is beautiful. Leave the woodland via a small gate…Conic Hill appears before you. The path climbs fairly steeply with flights of wooden steps.
As the path emerges into the light it is pretty obvious which way to go. It is fairly rocky in places and whilst it is far from a flat tarmac surface, it is not difficult to negotiate. It is most definitely a walk rather than a climb. In fact I saw a cyclist running up the hill with his mountain bike on his back…a bit extreme perhaps! My 88 year-old mum wouldn’t tackle it but a few years ago she would have been fine…hopefully that provides some sort of gauge!
The scenery is absolutely stunning….every time you pause to look at the view it gets better and so you take more photos, only to find yourself doing the same a few metres on, and again a few metres on. Little islands seem to float in the loch, and pristine white yachts look like toy boats floating on the surface of the water. Consequently I was up there for hours, but actually the walk is only around 2.5 miles including the return journey.
This is a ‘there and back’ walk, but because the views in front of you are constantly changing as the clouds move across the sky, it is far from boring. It is simply glorious…and one day I shall definitely go back!
After the walk it is worth having a stroll around the village taking in the boats and loch views, but I shall save all that for another post!
The Oak Tree pub in located opposite the car park, and it has a terrific reputation. Dogs are permitted in the garden, but we didn’t stop and eat as it was a tad chilly.
I fell in love with Scotland during this walk…enough said!