The Three Lochs Way, as the name suggests, takes in three of Scotland’s beautiful lochs, Loch Lomond, Gareloch and Loch Long. It is a fairly new walk, but it has proved to be very popular and it is now recognised as “One of Scotland’s Great Trails. Originally conceived of in 1991 by the Secretary of the Helensburgh District Access Trust, Alan Day, it only became a practicable proposition when it was officially publicised as a walking route by the trust in 2010.
Although most of the funding for the route comes from grants from bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage, the charitable Trust raises money collected from the general public. The funds are used to improve access and information along the trail, including replacing the wooden bridge at Glen Mallan, providing more signs and producing a guidebook and iPhone and Android App for the walk. Online orders for the guidebook can be made from the Trust’s Three Lochs Way official website. Further work is still being carried out to improve a boggy area north of Helensburgh, which should be completed in the spring of 2014.
The walk, which is suitable for beginners, covers a total distance of 33 miles (53 km) and is a pleasant route from Balloch to Inveruglas. The route is undulating and at times there are some steep climbs and muddy areas. It is now completely waymarked, but you are still recommended to carry a map.
The route crosses the Highland Fault Line and heads up towards the Southern Highlands. It takes in some historic spots, such as the house belonging to the famous Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the World War 2 “American Road”, and the spot that marks the battle of Glen Fruin between the MacGregors and the Colquhouns. You will also pass the MOD Training Centre and the Nuclear Weapons base at Faslane.
Wildlife enthusiasts might spot red squirrels, red and roe deer as well as rarities such as Hen Harrier and Black Grouse. Throughout the walk at least one of the three lochs is never far from view.
The walk begins at Balloch, in West Dunbartonshire. It is 26 miles from Glasgow and 70 miles from Edinburgh. It is called the gateway to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and it does have excellent transport connections. There is plenty to see in Balloch, including the “Maid of The Loch” heritage paddle steamer. Loch Lomond Shores Visitor’s Centre, and Balloch Park and Castle. The walk also passes through the town of Helensburgh, a popular tourist resort on the River Clyde,
Three Lochs Way 4 Day Plan
|EST TIME||4 hours||3 hours||4-5 hours||3 hours|
|DISTANCE||13.5 km||11 km||19 km||9.5 km|
Inveruglas is the only centre that is not served by railway and it doesn’t have accommodation either. It does have a Citylink bus connection from Glasgow and in the summer there is a Ferry service to Rowardennan and Tarbet, as long as the booking is made in advance. Anyone who wants accommodation after the final day’s walk into Inveruglas, can catch the bus up or down Loch Lomondside.
This walk isn’t difficult, but depending on the weather it might be somewhat challenging to a beginner. There are some steep climbs and boggy sections.
The main reason for avoiding a wet, cloudy days is the fact that it will impede the glorious views. Autumn is probably the best time to walk this route because of the glorious colours, then again, spring flowers make the walk very pretty and in the winter and early spring the mountains are capped with snow, which is more dramatic.
In the spring and during the early part of summer cows roam the Highlandman’s road with their young calves and therefore dogs cannot be taken on this part of the Helensburgh to Garelochead route. Citylink do not allow dogs on their buses either, so if you are planning a day walk across to Inveruglas, you will need to bear this in mind.
The walk will take four days, but as they are fairly short, you will have time to explore the towns and villages at the end of each walk. There are hotels at all the stopping points, apart from Inveruglas.
For the best source of up to date information about the route please visit the Three Lochs Way official website www.threelochsway.co.uk