Saturday, 14 October 2017

Loch Lomond Gallery. Balloch Castle Country Park. Walled Garden.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
A gallery of photos taken around Loch Lomond, Balloch and Balloch Castle Country Park. Above is a Loch Lomond Shores info board and a nice varied walk can be had on minor roads and wooded trails from here up the western shore of this famous loch.
We started off at the free car park in Balloch near the country park then crossed the River Leven, seen here above, before walking to Lomond Shores. Outdoor TV legend Tom Weir was once quoted as saying " The great thing about Balloch is that it's easy to get out of..." but that's a bit harsh as it is a scenic spot. Loads of moored boats dot the River Leven around Balloch and its popular with tourists and walkers most of the year. A frequent train service from Glasgow and various buses also drop you very close to both the country park and Lomond Shores so its easy to reach as well.
This building houses an aquarium...kayaks, Segway electric scooters and a tree top adventure course can also be hired if you have the spare cash.
The tree top route is in a good spot and fairly long compared to some others I've seen but obviously geared to extract coins from peoples pockets. As usual our wallets stayed shut, apart from a cheeky wee smoked sausage from the chip shop afterwards
A nice period pub in Balloch.
Tour boats operate around Balloch Pier. Loch Lomond is one of the biggest inland lochs in Scotland (freshwater not a sea loch)  has 23 wooded islands, mainly at the shallower, wider southern end and grows both narrower and deeper the further north into the mountains it travels. We were originally supposed to be heading for the mountain peaks to do a Munro but when we arrived the forecast had changed to mist, drizzle and dull conditions. The story of the west coast Scottish summer this year.
If we had headed further north as intended we would not have seen much as the mountains stayed buried in thick mist most of the day. A view here of Inchmurrin, the largest island in the loch. Several of the biggest islands are inhabited with farms, a few cottages, (Inchmurrin has a seasonal pub, which I've been in, and a very hardy nudest colony... which I've never seen a member of in 40 odd years of hopeful staring from my kayak)
As it was such a revelation to me years ago when I first explored the wonderful archipelago of islands out here after many years of racing past them in various cars to do the Scottish Munros I knew I had to give them a major chapter in my outdoor comedy novel Autohighography and drop an obvious clue as to my early years, somewhat unorthodox, methods for finding certain club members. Once a collector -always a collector.
Tour boat with the slopes of Ben Lomond behind, Scotland's most southerly Munro, rising into the mist.
Autumn colours beside the Maid of the Loch, a static paddle steamer which is free to visit.
A better view from the other side. Hopefully at some point they will have raised enough funds to properly restore it and get it operating again. I presume it will then be confined to the 23 mile long, 5 miles across at the widest point, loch. A large boat, even for Loch Lomond.
The shore walk takes you past Cameron House Hotel, an upmarket establishment where the sea plane is now based. Flights start at £100 pounds or thereabouts.
The seaplane coming in to the landing jetty.
Duck Bay Marina, a popular hotel and summer picnic spot with a large grassy meadow and long parking bays overlooking the loch. At this point we circled round to the front entrance gates of Cameron House and a different wooded path takes you back not far from the main road but still secluded and enjoyable through open woodlands.
We then had the option of following the River Leven downstream, past all the boats, until we reached the quieter middle section of the river at Alexandria.

Cyclists on the River Leven path which makes a fine walk/ cycle in itself from Dumbarton to Balloch. Worn out from fighting wars with the English to gain Scottish Independence Robert the Bruce settled near here in a mansion house to spend his final years, hunting ducks in the nearby Leven Swamp and sailing on the river past Dumbarton into the expansive Firth of Clyde.
A spot of lunch and a rest followed before we cut back via Alexandria main street and its lovely park, seen here.
Autumn flower displays.
Former motor factory now an outlet shopping arcade in Alexandria.
A detail above the entrance doors.
Balloch Castle and Country Park. A popular large former grand estate containing many different varieties of trees, sweeping meadows, small sandy beaches beside the loch,... and a pretty walled garden, which featured in the last post. (most photos were taken around this garden in the last post but a couple were included from Glasgow parks to get a full spectrum of colours.)
                                                      The Walled Garden. A panorama.
                                                          October trees in Balloch

                                               And a last view of Loch Lomond, below.

I thought readers might enjoy this. Ireland is rightly famed for its musical talent where it seems almost every family has someone in it that can play an instrument, sing, or dance to a very high standard. Unlike Glasgow and the Highlands where pubs are shutting at an alarming rate, after the smoking ban and cheap supermarket booze offers, I noticed on trips to Ireland that the pubs there are still thriving. No wonder though when you have ability like this on show. As reported on here earlier we went to the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow a couple of months ago and ended up in the Barras Market instead as it was mainly food pop up stands everywhere and not much genuine street entertainment going on.
Few cities or towns in the world can beat Ireland for putting on a show and they seem to be able to play together seamlessly at the drop of a hat. When I was learning the piano I never could and anyone else playing alongside me just put me off. I wasn't good enough, basically. This is a brilliant video set in Ennis, a town in County Clare near the River Shannon. What tourist looking for something different or unique wouldn't want to be in the crowd walking down that street? Ireland is also famous in recent years for quality food at all income levels. Although we have great scenery and a colourful history, Scotland certainly has a lot to learn in some areas. Also noticed on visits the towns and villages in Ireland all look like Tobermory, i.e a wonderland of colourful houses and villages that sparkle and cheer the mood, even in the rain...we have Tobermory ...and that's it. Tobermory on Mull is a photogenic Scottish tourist attraction yet it really has nothing extra over other Scottish villages except its painted waterfront houses. Definitely missing a golden opportunity there... for a few tins of paint and some creative imagination.
DIY Image on a door in the park. Presumably put up unofficially by an unpaid young local artist, showing his or her stencil skills. Every town or village usually has someone with artistic flair- many going unrecognized at present.
 For example... why not Scottish flower murals-like thistles, yellow poppies, lupins etc... pastel or vivid, subtle muted basic tartan patterns,nothing garish though, or black and white stencil drawings on some of the prominent houses, pubs or shops-obviously not all...or a village mural trail painted by the local youngsters... mix it up for each village or town that looks fairly drab and uniform at the moment ( a lot of them currently do :o) to make each different and stand out but keep the better ones as they are now- i.e. Scottish traditional white or grey the sparkling white ones on Islay as they are perfect already....we don't have to copy Ireland's flair -we can surely invent our own individual style... but still keep good taste as to the design. Even a dozen or so extra villages, like Tobermory, but different and individual, would boost the local economy.



Linda said...

How gorgeous! And I have never been on a seaplane, but I bet I would love to be in one as it lands on the water. :)

Kay G. said...

I must be part Irish, I can sing and dance at a drop of a hat!

Love your photos, as always. I have always had a fond hope of seeing Loch Lomond, having heard of it so much.

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Linda,
this is the season of the colourful posts before the white and grey of winter arrives. The sea plane is a relatively new development on the loch but you can fly right up the west coast and over offshore islands off Oban now in an hour.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
talking about an American/Irish connection, I really liked James Cagney's dancing style in Yankee Doodle Dandy when young (Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly films usually bored me rigid after 10 minutes at that time)but it was only much later I realized it was an unorthodox type of Irish dancing he was doing in that film but not following the strict rules involved in the traditional version. Loch Lomond is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I've never really stopped at the south end of Loch Lomond. always driving past heading for the hills. I've always associated it with mass tourism that I try to avoid in the mountains. All tins of shortbread and tweed!
Great video as well. Can you believe I've never been to Ireland, I guess its the weather and its propensity to wet that has always put me off. Another on a very long list of places I need to visit and possibly never will

Anabel Marsh said...

Interesting post. I know all those places but have never thought of actually making a walk out of them. Agree about some of our villages being very drab and grey. As for the video - amazing! I particularly loved seeing the range of ages taking part.

blueskyscotland said...

Same here Andy for the first 20 years or so doing Munros and then rock climbing but I've always enjoyed mixing things up with other sports/interests. Most folk I've met over the years seem to stick to one thing or one sport in outdoor clubs so when I got a couple of second hand kayaks it took me ages to convince anyone to join me... same with caving.
When we did start exploring Loch Lomond's islands in the early days it was like finding a new universe, every bit as new and exciting as your Europe city trips. There's far more NP restrictions out there now and with the internet its a lot busier but still beautiful and wild in Autumn, winter,and early spring when the crowds thin out.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
The walk from Balloch along the western shore past Cameron House then back on paths near the A82 is a very varied cracker I did a few months ago with a new club then again last week. A new area of Loch Lomond to explore for me so I thoroughly enjoyed it and the Balloch to Alexandria add on was very scenic as well. You can walk along the Leven from Dumbarton to Balloch and that's good as well if you haven't done it.( You probably have)
Exotic and tropical in places as I will highlight soon :o)
I found that Irish video by accident after looking at a Bonnie 'Prince' Billie song called Horses and it came up on the next to look at box. Weird connection. That's the great thing about You Tube is the pick and mix unpredictability of it all.

blueskyscotland said...

Damn my fingers, should read Billy.

Linda W. said...

Enjoyed your trip around the loch!

blueskyscotland said...

Thank you Linda W.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Enjoyed that, Bob. We were briefly in Balloch in Spring and saw a fraction of this, though there was a modern glizzy lochside complex that seemed rather like a ghost town... So much musical talent on that video - must admit, though I admire the skill, there's only so much Irish dancing I can watch.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Mike,
Loch Lomond shores can feel that way at times but the day we were there the food market was on and all the kids were wearing costumes dressed as princesses in Frozen, various game characters,unicorns, etc which gave it bags of life and colour. Obviously didn't take photos of them.
Same here as regards fiddle music and Scottish bagpipes but when I was over in Ireland I enjoyed the traditional songs in pubs and knew most of them from Irish folk records collected in my 20s and 30s.

Carol said...

That dancer in the video photo needs to make more money quick - her jeans are worn out and she cannae afford a brassie! LOL

Wouldn't mind a flip on the sea plane - my Dad would have loved it but unfortunately he'll never get up to Scotland again now :-(

Carol said...

... and it's a beggar if people dress up but you're not supposed to take photos - they may as well not bother then...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
It was young children dressing up so I'd never take photos of that anyway,now or in past decades, even children I know well as it's not only a privacy issue but posted online you never know where photos will end up. Even with adults involved or folk I know well I'm very reluctant to post any photos of them, face on,except from a distance or behind. Even Google 3D street maps I think of as a complete invasion of privacy as you can see the layout of individual houses and gardens on every street, perfect for burglars or street scammers placing false letterboxes to steal your personal details. Also details and make of sought after expensive cars sitting in driveways just waiting to be stolen to order by professional car jackers.
Edinburgh post coming up at some point where we were shouted at by street artists, dressed up,presumably demanding money for a photograph, so I'm going to detail that incident soon :o(

Carol said...

Agree with you about Google Streetview - a great asset for burglars!