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Three Lochs Way - Points of Potential Interest

Three Lochs Way - Points of Potential Interest

Postby AndyRitchie » Fri May 29, 2015 5:21 pm

Route description: Three Lochs Way

Date walked: 26/05/2015

Distance: 53 km

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Rather than provide a detailed account of our walk along the Three Lochs Way, I've decided that there may be greater value in sharing the key points of interest and little nugget of what I hope will be useful information with anyone else who is considering this challenge.
As a bit of background information, we (my wife and I) undertook the Three Lochs Way between the 26th & 28th May 2015. We started off from Balloch at about 11.00 a.m. having driven up from Lancashire early in the morning. We had bought the official 'The Three Lochs Way' booklet (available from www.threelochsway.co.uk) and we'd also had an OS Landranger Map custom-made to cover the route in its entirety.
So, here goes:
Day 1
1. If you are driving up, it is now possible to leave your car in the car park behind the Tourist Information office in Balloch. You need to go in and leave your car and contact details with them. The gates are locked overnight so there is a modicum of reassurance that your vehicle will be relatively safe.
2. If you find you've forgotten any key walking supplies, within the first mile you will pass by the Lomond Shore complex where there are a couple of outdoor shops.
3. On the walk over to Helensburgh, the ascent to the summit marked '277' on the OS map is quite steep.
4. The path down to Helensburgh from the summit of '277' is now complete and very good.
5. If you're booking accommodation in Helensburgh, be mindful of the fact that this first stage of the walk officially seems to end at upper railway station, so if you book accommodation) as we did, at the southern end of the town, you will have a walk of 1-1.5 miles at the start of your second day.
Day 2
6. If, like us, you're carrying spare clothing, etc (there is no bag-carrying service on this walk, more's the pity), then be aware that if you intend to miss out Garelochhead and walk on to Arrochar or Tarbet, it makes for a very long day. With hindsight, I would choose to split the journey with an overnight at Garelochhead and take the extra day, even though that would make Day 2 quite short.
7. The path along the edge of Highlandman's Wood on the outskirts of Helensburgh over to Glen Fruin is good.
8. Glen Fruin itself is a it dull, but we saw a wide array of birdlife here and the road is very quiet. There are peacocks at Strone House!
9. Where the path goes under the railway (entering Gleann Culanach) it was very boggy (though by this time it had been raining relentlessly for a couple of hours) - there is also a very steep little climb to pick up the forest track below Sron Mallanach.
10. The path from Glen Douglas is about the poorest on the entire walk, rough underfoot and, after (or during) heavy rain, awash with large, deep puddles.
Day 3
11. The walk from the station at Tarbet to Stronafyne, if the bluebells are out, is simply breathtaking!
12. At the end of the walk, when you reach Inveruglas, you may choose, like we did, to catch the Citylink bus that will return you to Balloch - however, a word of warning. When the bus arrived, thankfully only a few minutes later than the expected 12.52, there was only one seat available!! A different option, which we used in desperation, was to call one of the local taxi firms who have pinned their cards on the noticeboards in the Information Centre (we spoke to Alan Napier). We were charged the very reasonable price of £20 for the return trip to Balloch.
13. If you have left your car at Balloch then you may wish to discuss with your accommodation provider in Arrochar or Tarbet the possibility of leaving your heavy rucksack with them so you can pick it up later when you've got back to your car. Yes, it does involve an extra drive of about 15 miles back up the side of Loch Lomond, but this was a small price to pay for having to carry virtually nothing up Glen Loin.

Where did we stay?
In Helensburgh, we stopped at http://www.no20craigendoran.co.uk which was extremely nice (tea and scones on arrival!) and at Tarbet we stopped at http://www.innischonainhouse.co.uk which was also very comfortable. Both had great breakfasts and the hosts (Catriona and Sharon) were most obliging.

Where did we eat?
In Helensburgh, we ate at La Barca (a Spanish Tapas restaurant) which was excellent. In Tarbet, we ate at the Slanj Restaurant (converted from the old kirk) where the food was more standard pub fare but where the pints of Belhaven Best were well received after a particularly long and wet walk in. Both were very reasonably priced.

Overall, I'd certainly recommend the Three Lochs Way though as previously mentioned I'd suggest taking your time and doing it over 4 days, perhaps even having an extra night in Balloch at the end. The views (when we did see them, as on Day 1 and Day 3) are, at times, stunningly beautiful, especially those up towards the Arrochar Alps, and especially when the bluebells are around.
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Re: Three Lochs Way - Points of Potential Interest

Postby Backpacker » Sun May 31, 2015 3:29 pm

It's a beautiful walk and the views are outstanding in places, there's a couple of variations you can do, if you don't fancy going into Helensburgh then you can go over the top of Ben Bowie (and bag yourself a Sub 2K) and aim towards the road at NS315842 which takes you onto the Glen Fruin road or rather than follow the road, there's the option (if you've come up by The Hill House) to turn left at the end of the wood at NS296850 towards Tom Na H-airidh and follow the ridge (bagging another Sub 2K) above shandon and faslane where you pick up another landrover track, this track will bring you out at the same point on the Glen Fruin road where you'd turn for the "Yankee" road.
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Re: Three Lochs Way - Points of Potential Interest

Postby ron6632 » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:10 pm

Just a note about Inveruglas. You can pre-book the water taxi to call in here (there is phone number on the NP website) which takes you back to Tarbet (possibly via Inversnaid). Useful if you want to catch the train, or if you leave the car there.
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