Of all the things we did and saw in Scotland I was most looking forward to going to Loch Lomond, where I could see Scotlands famous lakes and Highlands. And yes, that’s Loch Lomond of folk music fame.
We decided to go for a walk in the picturesque town of Balmaha. Generally, Balhmaha is noted in tourist guides as little more than a car park, but the town has a tiny harbour and a pretty decent pub, but more importantly, Balmaha is the point of departure for several walking routes.
The route we took first was the Millennium Forest Path, a short route that takes you by the coast of the lake and into a quite young patch of forest.
All through the day, we had a magnificent view on Ben Lomond, the mountain that shares its name with the Loch.
The Millennium path takes you on a round trip back to Balmaha, but there’s another route passing the village: the West Highland Way, a long distance route through the Highlands. Near the town, it passes over a hill called Conic Hill. Although the hill pales in comparison with the Ben Lomond, it is quite a climb in its own right, and a stunning sight for two tourists used to the flat, Dutch fields.
Very near to the top, we were surprised by a flock of sheep, lazily grazing as if they did not even realize they lived in the most beautiful landscape on earth.
A last look at the Ben Lomond before descending back to Balmaha.
While the top of Conic Hill might feel like somewhere completely isolated of all civilisation, isolation has created an unique civilisation along the south-eastern shore of Loch Lomond. The only train arrives at Balloch
, a water sports resort on the southernmost tip of the lake. If travelling by public transport, the only way to get to Balmaha is a bus that only departs once every two hours. The bus is usually driven by a local driver, as is made apparent because at every stop, there’s someone stopping the bus just for some small talk with the bus driver, at times not even bothering to actually ride on the bus at all.
It’s impossible to sit on that bus, and not hear politics. The group of men and women sharing our ride back to Balloch had a very passionate debate on Scottish independence, and everyone getting on the bus had to show their colours first. As arguments and insults were traded (“But he slept with your wife!”), the debaters kept a friendly attitude. After an early lead for the yes camp, the debate seemed to end in a draw, until the bus driver (who had initially proclaimed “I’ll have nae politics on my bus!”), decided the issue for all of them. And that is how I ended up in a crowded bus, slaloming a country road, with the bus driver slamming the horn and repeatedly yelling
“Yea! Yea! Yea!”