The Three Lochs Way: Balloch to Helensburgh
|Signpost for the Three Lochs Way|
The Three Lochs Way is a 32-mile (52-kilometre) route that begins at Balloch, and which leads through Helensburgh, Garelochhead and Arrochar, to finish at Inveruglas. It is described in detail at the official Three Lochs Way website.
The present article is a collection of photographs illustrating the first stage of the walk, namely, the 9-mile-long (14.5 km) section between Balloch and Helensburgh. A full description and map of this section of the Three Lochs Way can be found at the official website; walkers should refer to that site for details of the route, and for any updates.
As for the present article, it should not be used as a guide to the Three Lochs Way; it is simply a photographic record of the walk, intended to complement the map and description given at the official site.
There has been a change to this leg of the Three Lochs Way since the present article was first written in 2012: the route still crosses Darleith Muir, and later follows the north-western side of the glen of the Red Burn. What has changed is the way of getting from the muir to the glen: this was originally by means of the fairly steep wooded side of the ridge of Killoeter, but it is now by means of a different path, part of which is shared by the John Muir Way (which opened in 2014). Also, by 2014, there was a newly-made path from Goukhill Muir to Quarry Wood, alongside the glen of the Red Burn; that part of the route had previously been indicated only by some marker sticks with coloured tape, set at intervals along the way. The article will illustrate the current (as of 2014) route, with its newly-made path, and also, for comparison and for interest, the original route (2012).
As noted above, readers should always refer to the official site, rather than the present article, for details of the current route.
the Stoneymollan Road, an old coffin road that is now a heritage path.
Not all of the photographs below are views along the direction of travel from Balloch to Helensburgh. Here, and in subsequent sections, views in the opposite direction are, when it is not otherwise obvious, captioned "view back", or similar..
John Muir Way, which was officially opened in 2014.
Path of the route shown in this section was later improved; I have therefore included, for comparison, pictures taken before and after improvement:
|(left) This track leads to a T-junction|
(middle) The T-junction; the route currently takes the right branch
(right) The signpost at the junction
|(left) The right branch, from the signpost|
(middle) Further on, approaching the edge of Auchendennan Muir (before path improvement)
(right) Following the path at the edge of the muir (before path improvement)
| This row of pictures taken after path improvement (April 2015):|
(left) As middle picture in row above
(middle) Further on, turning to follow edge of Auchendennan Muir
(right) As picture directly above it
|This row of pictures taken before path improvement (April 2014):|
(left) Further on, past the angle of the woodland edge
(middle) Looking back along the same section
(right) Ascending the slope obliquely
|This row of pictures taken after path improvement:|
(left) As picture directly above it (April 2015)
(middle) As picture directly above it (April 2015)
(right) As picture directly above it (November 2014)
|(left) Emerging into a clearing, the start of a forestry track|
(middle) Further along that track, rounding a bend
(right) The Three Lochs Way turns left at the signpost, taking the new path; the John Muir Way stays on the forestry track
|(left) At the signpost: the start of the newly-made path|
(middle) Approaching a gate on that path
(right) A view back from the far side of that gate; Ben Bowie is in the background
|(left) New path, and drainage channel|
(middle) Further on, looking back along the path
(right) Helensburgh begins to come into view
|(left) The glen of the Red Burn is well seen from the path|
(middle) Further on; from this part of the path, Ben Bowie rises to the right
(right) This signpost stands beside the point where the path crosses a forestry track
|(left) View back along improved path, with boardwalk (compare earlier appearance, below)|
(middle) Further along the path
(right) The nearby Red Burn (picture taken from a short distance off the route)
From then on, the route, alongside the glen of the Red Burn, was the same as at present, but it looked very different, because the made path from Goukhill Muir to Quarry Wood did not then exist. As a temporary measure, the route had been marked out by means of sticks with tape on them. Below, I show some pictures of the route as it looked back then, for comparison with the later pictures.
the Hill House, where this first stage of the Three Lochs Way ends.
For a similar article about the second stage of the walk, see The Three Lochs Way: Helensburgh to Garelochhead.