Often our family days out suffer from either a/ bad planning or b/ bad temper. But I planned this with the help of an actual guide book, and the beauty of the place combined with gorgeous, sunny September weather made bad temper (pretty much) impossible.
For a day trip to Loch Lomond with two young children, you could do worse than follow this recommended itinerary:
– Pack a picnic.
– Leave Edinburgh around 9.30am.
– Arrive around 11am at Balmaha, on the quieter east shore of the loch, parking in the free car park. Walk down past the Oak Tree Inn to the Balmaha Boatyard. Ask a boatyard gentleman to ferry you over to the island of Inchchailleach (adults £5 return, under 16s £2.50), without actually pronouncing the island’s name. Feel secretly glad you didn’t hire a boat, which you kind of wanted to do, because it’s a lot easier to sit and be ferried over to the isle, whilst relaxing and enjoying the stunning scenery.
– Walk the signposted Summit Path for a gentle climb and more glorious views. About 45 minutes later arrive at a small, picturesque beach with handy picnic tables and an eco-toilet. Eat sandwiches; forbidding children to feed the lot to a group of cute but determined ducks.
– Walk back via the lower path, taking in the 13th century burial ground. Learn a bit about the castle-rustling local Clan MacGregor and a convent of possibly mythical nuns. Avoid being wrenched away from exploring burial ground by a small child yelling: ‘I need a poo!’. Remember toilet roll.
– Arrive back at the jetty where the nice ferry man is waiting. Repeat enjoyable boat journey.
– Get back in car (or you could have a drink at the Oak Tree Inn – it looked nice). Drive as far as you can go up the east coast before bumping into a mountain – to the Youth Hostel at Rowardennan. Stop at the first car park instead of driving right up to the hostel, and discover lots of exciting sparkly stones (quartz) on the beaches and an even more exciting rope swing. After half an hour of swinging get fed up and shout, ‘Bye, kids!’ and walk off. No looking back.
– Have a cup of tea or a beer at the Rowadennan YHA (they take cards) and enjoy the view while the kids play on the lawn.
– Avoid nearly running out of petrol on the way home and having to ask directions from people with thick accents and getting lost on the way to the petrol station. Breathe.
– Feel very happy you live in beautiful Scotland.