Balmaha is a village in the county of Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire in central Scotland. It's the only village along the scenic east bank of Loch Lomond. A minor road continues north of Balmaha for 7 miles to dead-end at Rowardennan, and facilities along the road are also described on this page. The main reason to come here is to explore the east side of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, especially to climb Ben Lomond, walk the West Highland Way, and to get out onto the loch.
Garelochhead Bus 309 runs from Alexandria railway station via Balloch and Drymen to Balmaha. It runs every hour or two daily taking 30 mins; there are no buses further north to Rowardennan. Trains run every 30 mins from Glasgow Queen Street via Dumbarton and Alexandria to Balloch, taking 50 mins.
With your own car, the usual approach is past Glasgow onto M8, cross Erskine Bridge to A82 past Dumbarton to Balloch, follow A811 east to Drymen, then turn onto B837 for Balmaha and Loch Lomond east bank.
From the east of the country eg Edinburgh, head for Stirling then join A811 west to Drymen for the turn-off for Balmaha.
See "Do" for getting here by hiking the West Highland Way.
You need your own wheels to get between Balmaha and Rowardennan.
- 1 Milarrochy Bay. A bay on Loch Lomond.
- The Tom Weir Statue on Main Street opposite the Bunkhouse commemorates the Scottish climber, author and broadcaster Tom Weir (1914-2006). It's often adorned with strange hats.
- 2 Inchcailloch is the wooded island in Loch Lomond just 200 yards off Balmaha. There are walking trails, and in early summer the woods are carpeted with bluebells. Its name means "Isle of the Cowled Woman", probably referring to Saint Kentigerna (d 734) who may have founded a nunnery here; the ruined church is named for her. (She's not to be confused with the earlier Saint Kentigern or Mungo, founder of the city of Glasgow.) There's a basic campsite at Port Bawn at the south end of the island, open March-Sept, but there's no water supply on the island and no trash collection. Little boats ply to Inchcailloch on demand from Balmaha, adult £5 return. Water buses also run from Luss April-Oct four times a day; some continue to Balmaha but their timetables don't enable a day-trip from there.
- The West Highland Way is usually done south to north, with the easier sections first and the sun and weather at your back. Stage 1 is Milngavie to Drymen, 12 miles / 19 km of fairly level going. Stage 2 climbs over Conic Hill then descends into Balmaha; you then follow the bank of Loch Lomond north to Rowardennan, total 14 miles 22.5 km. Stage 3 is the same length but rougher going along the loch side and beyond to Inverarnan, or you can take the ferry to accommodation in Ardlui and resume next morning. That's 40 miles done, 56 much tougher miles ahead of you.
- 1 Conic Hill can be climbed by itself, an easy hike from Balmaha. At 361 m / 1184 ft it's a "Marilyn", with a secondary summit at 358 m. It does look conical, a sharp little summit on the Highland Boundary Fault Line, but that's coincidental: the name is Gaelic coinneach, "moss", so be ready for soggy conditions.
- Climb 2 Ben Lomond, a "Munro" of 974 metres / 3196 feet. The usual ascent is up the track from Rowardennan car park, which fills up early on fine weekends. There's nothing technical involved, it's just a steady climb along a well-worn trail. Reckon 3 hours up and 2 hours down, compatible with a day-trip from Tarbet to Rowardennan on the water bus.
You can buy gifts and snacks from Balmaha village shop, open daily 07:30-20:30. There's an ATM inside.
- Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha, Glasgow G63 0JQ, ☏ . Food served daily 12:00-21:00. Balmaha's only inn, with friendly staff and good food. Traditional en suite bedrooms and unique, rustic pub/bar plus B&B accommodation in nearby cottages.
- There's a string of campsites between Balmaha and Rowardennan, at Milarrochy Bay, Cashel, Sallochy and Lochan Maoil Dhuinne. March-Sept you may only camp in designated areas such as these.
- 1 [dead link] Balmaha Bunkhouse, Main Street, Balmaha G63 0JQ, ☏ . Open all year, has a bunkhouse with one 6-bedded room, one 4 and two twins; B&B in a double and a twin bedded room; and a self-catering chalet, sleeps 4. Dogs permitted in bunkhouse and chalet. Closed, expected to reopen in 2021. Bunkhouse £25 ppn, B&B double £80, chalet £90.
- There's B&B at Arrochoile opposite Loch Lomond Waterfront.
- 2 Loch Lomond Waterfront, Main Rd, Balmaha G63 0JQ, ☏ . Upscale self-catering lodges and chalets with hot tubs, sleep 2-6, dogs welcome in several. Doubles from £250.
- 3 Rowardennan Hotel, Rowardennan G63 0AR, ☏ . You'll be more than ready for a meal or a bed here if you've scaled the Ben or lumped along the WHW. Also has self-catering lodges, water activities and bike hire. B&B double £100.