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Home The Route Drymen to Balmaha

Drymen to Balmaha

Summary

  • Distance / Time: 8 miles (12.8 km) / 4 to 5 hours (via Conic Hill)
  • Total Ascent: 292m (via Conic Hill)
  • Total Descent: 437m (via Conic Hill)
  • Max Height: 310m (via Conic Hill)
  • Terrain: Good paths or tracks most of the way. The only significant ascent being the section of the route over Conic Hill near Balmaha.  There is a low level alternative.  
  • (Please note that dogs are not allowed in the two enclosed fields on the east approach to Conic Hill during the lambing season, even on a lead. The season normally lasts for around three weeks at the end of April and early May. Temporary signage will be in place. This does not affect access with a dog to Conic Hill from the Balmaha direction.)
  • Accommodation: Balmaha
  • Refreshments: Balmaha
  • Toilets: Balmaha
  • Places of Interest: Boat trips are available from Balmaha to Inchcailloch, part of Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve. Visitor Centre at Balmaha car park.

The Route:

  • If starting from Drymen follow the B858 eastwards and just before you reach the A811 take the left turn, pass The Old School and follow the footpath for approximately 500m to a Way Finger Post.  Turn left  through the gate.
  • The Way follows the fence for about 1km before entering the woodland of Garadhban Forest, a conifer plantation currently undergoing harvesting, and continues along a forest track for about 6km before reaching a crossroads.
  • At this point, there is a choice; either to proceed over Conic Hill or to take the low level bypass route.
  • PLEASE SEE THE NOTE ABOVE CONCERNING DOGS BEYOND THIS POINT.
  • To bypass Conic Hill, bear left at the forest track crossroads to follow the track downhill until it joins the B837 at Milton of Buchanan. Turn right and follow the road for 3km to rejoin the West Highland Way at the car park in Balmaha.
  • To climb Conic Hill, follow the forest track straight ahead and exit the forest (now harvested) over a high stile. The path goes along the edge of two fields before crossing the Burn of Mar and emerging onto open moorland and heading up the ridge to the summit. The Way follows a natural ledge just below the summit.
  • To reach the summit, take the obvious path to your left for the short, steep climb to the top. Looking south west, you can see the line of islands following the Highland Boundary Fault across Loch Lomond. This marks the line of a geological feature with a very complex history, much of which is now missing due to erosion, where two continents came together. Conic Hill is made up of a form of conglomerate rock and comprises rounded stones of various sizes cemented together by much finer sandstone. This material was eroded from Himalayan height mountains at one time located to the north west which were formed as the continents moved together. Because of the rounded stones within the rock it is also known as pudding stone.
  • On a clear day it is possible to see Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran, 50 miles (8km) to the south west. Further round towards the south is the rounded outline of Ailsa Craig in the Clyde Estuary, one time source of granite used to make curling stones. Retrace your steps to rejoin the Way and continue westward.
  • The route drops steeply through a corrie between two ridges, where a built up stone staircase brings you down to more conifer forest. The forest path leads to the car park at Balmaha. Refreshments and toilets are available in the village.