Visible from the shores of Loch Lomond Waterfront, one of the most visited islands on the Loch is Inchcailloch. Easily accessible by hiring a kayak from Balmaha House, taking the Mail Boat from the Balmaha Boat Yard or jumping aboard the Loch Lomond water bus, Inchcailloch offers some fantastic, dog-friendly walks. Both kids and adults will love this magical island.
There are two piers on the island but the majority of the boats will land at the East Pier where you can start exploring straight away.
Take the steps from the pier until you reach the path. From here the path leads to the right, travelling a short distance along the shores of the loch before heading inland. You will shortly come across a large wooden board displaying a map of the island. From here you need to take the path that turns to the left which will lead you to the summit. You will shortly reach a small wet area which you can cross using the wooden boardwalk.
As the path reaches the south side of the island it starts to ascend in a wide zig-zag. There are some steps along the way leading to a bench where you can take a breather and look out far across the flat deep blue southern stretches of the loch.
Reaching the peak
Continue along the path as it moves to the left until you reach another bench. From here you can take in breathtaking views looking north towards Ben Lomond and the Highlands. Slightly further along the path you will be able to get a glimpse of a string of islands, known as the Highland Boundary Fault which separates the Lowlands from the Highlands.
Winding down for a picnic
Continue along the path as it descends down the other side of the peak. You will soon reach a junction with the main path where you have two options. If you have the time, take the left turn through the woods which leads you to a picnic area at the western edge of the island, with a pebbly beach and its own jetty. The route is adorned with a carpet of bluebells in late Spring and early Summer and the picnic area is a great location for a spot of swimming.
Back to the boat
After enjoying a spot of lunch and a quick dip, take the footpath to the right, past the public facilities and rangers hut. The path will take you back to the small jetty where you were dropped off.
The ancient nunnery of St Kentigerna
If you have time, it is definitely worth heading taking the ‘low path’ that runs fairly close to the coast. The easy walk soon reaches a small ruin which acts as a reminder that Inchcailloch was farmed with oats and barley right up until the end of the 18th century
From here the path continues to the right and ascends until you reach a junction and ahead, you will see the ancient graveyard and nunnery of St Kentigerna, where the island’s name is derived from (the island of the old woman). The site was used as the parish church up until 1621 but the graveyard still served the parish until 1947. It was also the burial ground to the McGregor family and many of Rob Roy’s ancestors. When you are ready to head back to the boat, return to the junction and turn left to head back to the jetty – hopefully in time for your boat.