Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wildforms Blog-Loch Lomond

Bowling Harbour

Still catching up!..... Mid January and we had another break away. This time 3 nights in Dumbarton Travelodge, chosen for its proximity to Loch Lomond. It was blowing a gale and pouring with rain on the way but we managed a stop on the way at the RSPB Lochwinnoch Reserve. By the time we got to the Erskine Bridge the weather had calmed but it was still grey, we then stopped for a short walk at Bowling Harbour, a great photo shoot had the weather been brighter, before reaching our destination.


The next morning the weather was showery and still with a cold wind. We had bought tickets online, at half price if bought online at thais time of year, for Loch Lomond Sealife Centre, so set off early so we could be there when it opened. We thought we would get a look around the shops etc first but found that nothing opened until 10am, so took a few shots outside of the ducks and a beautiful goosander while we waited.


We had the Sealife Centre to ourselves for a while, which was great. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the otters, they were very entertaining, especially at feeding time.

We spent the rest of the morning there, the view over the loch from the cafe (the coffee was good too!) was beautiful especially with a stunning rainbow to enjoy.


We have previously visited the Sealife Centre in Scarborough but this one was quite different. There were no otters at Scarborough but they had penguins, turtles and seals. I do feel that they missed a golden oportunity with the Loch Lomond centre, to contect with the loch more. It is a stunning location and although there was a section about the life in the loch, I think there could have been an underwater viewing area.

Rainbow Loch Lomond

Lunch was in Jenners cafe, sausage and mash with onion gravy in a Yorkshire pud, their 2 meal deal of the day, both meals for £10 and that included apple pie and cream each.
Sculpture, Loch Lomond

We then explored the visitor centre and when the weather brightened up had a walk outside to view the sculptures.

Dumbarton Castle

Still some afternoon left so we decided to find Dumbarton Castle. Despite the traffic we managed to find it but made the mistake of following the castle trail, which takes you round the area which is either derelict or a building site!

Sunrise, Balmaha
The next morning the forcast was much better so we set off towards the east side of Loch Lomond hoping to catch the sunrise. Our first stop was Balmaha, I would imagine very busy in the summer with tourists, but we found it deserted. We were hoping there would be a boat trip to the Island nature reserve, but no sign at this time of year.

Boat Balmaha

A brief shower and then the skies cleared so we decided to carry on up the road which follows the Eastern shore of the loch. It was very calm and beautiful, the loch being like a millpond and the reflections were brilliant.
Loch Lomond

The cloud lifted over the mountains and we could see the snow topped summits of Ben Lomond.

We reached the end of the road at Rowardennan, where we stopped for our picnic lunch, only a few other cars so it was very peaceful.

A short walk and a bit of exploring and we decided to go back to Balmaha for a longer walk up Conic Hill. We set off through the back of the main carpark, which was still practically empty and the visitor centre closed.

We climbed up through the forest then out onto the open hill where firstly the view to the South opened up an then we reached a ridge where we almost had 360 degree views.

Loch Lomond from Conic Hill

We could see Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond and the peaks around it and to the south the Hills around Dumbarton.

South from Conic Hill
We stood for a while to appreciate the stunning view then made the decision not to carry on to the summit as we would probably then have to return back down in the dark.
Ben Lomond from Conic Hill

After a shower and rest back at the Travelodge we crossed the busy road and sat down to a Carvery at the pub for just £3.50 each.

The Stonefield, Dumbarton

Next morning we set off home bright and early before the forcasted bad weather returned.

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