By Yvonne Booth
If you want to spend some time around Loch Lomond in Scotland on a budget but don’t want to be a midnight snack for swarms of Highland midgies (infamous female gangs of tiny, blood sucking, flying insects) then swap the tent for a room at the Balmaha Bunkhouse. The bunkhouse is perfectly located for exploring the shoreline trails, for getting out on the water to explore the islands, as a base for hiking up the mountains or as a rest stop along the West Highland Way.
The bunkhouse is very clean and comfortable with showers, a communal kitchen and they even provide breakfast cereals, milk and bread. Jock and Gwen, who run the bunkhouse, also rent out sit on kayaks and canoes. Parking is a two minute walk away from the visitors centre, and they do ask people to vacate between 10 am and 2 pm to clean, but most people would want to be out exploring anyway.
It’s only a short walk across the road to launch your vessel of choice into the water and there’s an island nature reserve close by to paddle out to. You can also catch the local ferry to the island that runs on demand. Just head to the pier and ask at the office. A short walk to the visitor centre takes you to the start of a hike up Conic Hill which gives beautiful views over Loch Lomond or if you want a bigger challenge Ben Lomond can be summited in approx. 5 hours. When you get back down, you have a choice of being fed and watered in Cafe St Mocha that serves great coffee, cakes and ice cream or in the beautiful old fashioned Oak Tree Inn complete with beer garden.
Just a couple of words of warning. Use insect repellent (or Avon Skin So Soft works if you want to avoid harsh chemicals) and be prepared for changing weather conditions. I went out one evening on my stand up paddle board in totally flat calm conditions, but an hour later I was fighting wind and waves. I had to sit down and use my kayak paddle to make it back to shore. Last but not least, don’t forget your camera. This area is stunningly beautiful.
A bed at the Balmaha Bunkhouse cost 20 GBP pp/pn in June 2015. For more information see http://www.balmahahouse.co.uk0Need at least 3 ratings