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Fitness
Hiking trail

Balmaha to Inverarnan

Hiking trail · Stirling
Responsible for this content
Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Loch Lomond
    / Loch Lomond
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
m 300 200 100 30 25 20 15 10 5 km Loch Lomond … Sculpture Ben Lomond Loch Lomond RSPB Nature Trail & Reserve Ben Lomond The Oak Tree Inn Rowchoish Bothy The Clansman Bar Inversnaid Hotel Rob Roys Cave

After following the path along the shores of Loch Lomond, the path rises high above the loch giving excellent views of the Arrochar Alps. Shortly after leaving Inversnaid the trail passes the RSPB reserve and Rob Roy's cave before finally reaching Inverarnan.

difficult
34.8 km
10:30 h
390 m
373 m

From Balmaha the path alternates between the Loch Lomond shore, natural forest, and headlands. There are numerous short steep climbs along this section of the route. The scenery, forest, and birdlife between Balmaha and Rowardennan are outstanding. 

Leaving Rowardennan, the West Highland Way follows forestry roads and gently climbs high up above Loch Lomond, giving fantastic views over the water and towards the peaks of the Arrochar Alps. As you close in on Inversnaid the path narrows and becomes more undulating, passing over a spectacular bridge and waterfall as you arrive at Inversnaid Hotel. 

The path from Inversnaid to the head of the loch is undulating with a generally rough surface. After passing Doune Bothy the path improves but it may seem a long two miles from Ardleish to Inverarnan.  If you are staying across the water at Ardlui, look out for the sign pointing to the little ferry (2 miles before the end of this section). Walk down to the loch shore and call the ferry by raising the ball (you'll be returned to this same spot the following day). Otherwise, Beinglas Farm marks the end of your day. Leave the way and follow the signs for Inverarnan. 

Author’s recommendation

If you are staying across Loch Lomond at Ardlui Hotel, look out for the sign pointing to the little ferry (2 miles before the end of this section). Walk down to the loch shore to the Ardleish slipway and call the ferry by raising the ball attached to the flagpole, as per the instructions attached to the flagpole. The ferry only departs at certain times and will only cross the Loch if they know you are there.

The ferries depart from Ardleish slipway at 10 minutes past the hour from 09:10 until 13:10 then 15:10 until 19:10. 

They will of course take you back the morning so that you can continue your walk. The following morning for the ferry returns from Ardlui on the hour from 09:00. If you are starting out later, please be aware that the last ferry before lunch is at 13:00

If you are not staying in Ardlui then Beinglas Farm marks the end of your day. Leave the way and follow the signs for Inverarnan. 

 

 

outdooractive.com User
Author
Macs Adventure
Updated: February 17, 2020

Difficulty
difficult
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
108 m
Lowest point
12 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Rest Stop

The Oak Tree Inn
St Mocha Coffee Shop & Ice Cream Parlour
The Clansman Bar
Inversnaid Hotel

Safety information

At a few points the path joins or crosses the road which can be busy. Be careful if stepping out or taking photos when close to the road. 

Please take your time walking alongside the Loch and be sure of your footing as the trail can often be slippy.

Maps

If you wish to carry a hardcopy map, we would recommend buying the West Highland Way map from Footprints. Alternatively, you may wish to print the daily maps directly from our app.

Guidebook

If you wish to bring a guidebook, we would recommend Trailblazer's West Highland Way: Milngavie to Fort William by Charlie Loram.

Macs Adventure Blogs

Using our decades of experience we have written several blogs containing helpful tips, daily wildlife information, lunch stops, where to eat, FAQ and more. Please follow the link below to read our West Highland Way insights:

https://www.macsadventure.com/walking-holidays/category/walking/west-highland-way/

Tips, hints and links

Noted on the interactive map are a couple notable points of interest. Click the icons on the map for more information.

Start

Balmaha town centre (15 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
56.084274, -4.539800
UTM
30V 404179 6216527
what3words 
///builds.airfields.unless

Destination

Beinglas Farm in Inverarnan

Turn-by-turn directions

*** To help you follow the route with confidence we provided these route notes to help you. The West Highland Way is well waymarked, but we strongly suggest that you follow the GPS tracks in the Macs Adventure smartphone app to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and problem-free day.  The daily maps can also be printed from the web version of the app should you wish to take paper copies with you. ***

 

Before leaving Balmaha you’ll pass a statue of the well-loved Tom Weir – a hardy walker who hosted the TV programme “Weir’s Way” to popularise hiking in the highlands, in which he almost always wore the same red knitted beanie hat. From Balmaha follow the well way-marked trail as it flits between hugging the shore of Loch Lomond and following the country road towards Rowardennan.  Enjoy the peaceful paths through woodlands which have been restored to allow native species to thrive. 

At 12.10 km arrive at Rowardennan Hotel – a casual country inn located between the road on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond and the loch shore itself.  

Pick up the trail from Rowardennan Hotel as you leave the car park and turn left onto the road to follow the thistle way-markers (take care of traffic on this short section of the Way as you walk with the road on your left-hand side).  In 300m pass some public toilets and the Rowardennan War Memorial then follow a well-defined, but undulating and rocky path, through the forest with Loch Lomond on your left-hand side.  Make sure you keep on track here and ignore any signs for Ben Lomond – a popular Munro accessed from this car park. 

At 15.00 km you’ll reach a junction – if you have found the underfoot conditions up to here challenging we recommend you take the right-hand fork to follow a wide gravel track through forest, a straight-forward although somewhat less scenic route compared to the left-hand fork which hugs the loch shore and winds its way through the forest on a rocky and undulating path. Our route description follows the left-hand fork (the right-hand fork rejoins this route at 19.70 km).  

Continue along the loch shore to cross the little bridge over the waterfall next to Inversnaid Hotel.  Here you can leave your boots in the porch and pop in for some refreshments if you have time before following the thistle way-markers along the loch shore once more.  Take your time on this rocky section of trail, taking special care during or after rain, and keep an eye out for Rob Roy’s Cave and Doune Bothy at 30.40 km, followed by Ardleish in a further 1 km where the ferry for Ardlui Hotel arrives at a small jetty. 

At the end of the loch the path bears left and passes through Beinglas B&B and campsite heading for the A82 (the main road on the western shore of Loch Lomond) where you’ll find the Drovers Inn and further south on the road the Ardlui Hotel.  Check your tailored accommodation sheet for details of your overnight stay. 

 

Note


all notes on protected areas

Coordinates

Geographic
56.084274, -4.539800
UTM
30V 404179 6216527
what3words 
///builds.airfields.unless
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Equipment

Sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required. The weather can change quickly so be sure to take all equipment even if the weather looks okay.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it would be beneficial to bring a power bank.


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Difficulty
difficult
Distance
34.8 km
Duration
10:30h
Ascent
390 m
Descent
373 m
Round trip Scenic Cultural/historical value Faunistic highlights Healthy climate

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