Went on a trip with the my friends from the Scottish Wildlife Trust today to Inchcailloch on Loch lomond.
The weather was lovely and quite warm and helped make it a day to remember. Thanks to Sheila and Robin who picked me up from Hyndland Station in Glasgow and drove me to Balmaha and saved me a trek there by public transport.
At Balmaha we met the other members of the group and took the ferry to the island. It was only a 6 minute journey and a nice and smooth one.
Inchcailloch is one of the larger islands on loch Lomond near Balmaha on the south of the Loch. The name means “Isle of the old woman” or “Isle of the Coweled Woman” after Saint Kentigerna who came to Scotland from Ireland in 717AD to preach and spread Christianity.
The Pier is on the north of the island and we walked in an anti-clockwise direction round the island. The Bluebells were in bloom and covered large areas of the island.
There were also large numbers of beetles on the footpath called ‘Dung Beetles’ which play an important role in agriculture. They bury and consuming dung, and as a result, they improve soil structure. They also protect livestock by removing the dung which could provide a habitat for pests. On the island there are Fallow Deer and the Dung Beetles help protect them.
There is a graveyard on the north of the Island and the remains of a church which was built in the 12th century and dedicated to St Kentigerna. Until the 18th Century, people from the mainland rowed across for worship and to bury their dead.
The church was abandoned in 1670 but the graveyard was used until 1947. The path leading to the graveyard was known as ‘Coffin Valley’ as the dead were carried here on their way to the graveyard.
The Graveyard was used by the Clan MacGregor and some of Rob Roy’s ancestors are buried there.
To our left was Loch Lomond, but it were obscured by the trees. On the way to the beach at Port Bawn, on the south of the island, we passed the remains of an old farmhouse which was last inhabited in around 1770.
In the late 18th Century the land was planted with oak trees for the production of Pyroligineous Acid which was used in industry to soften the leather belts used to drive machinery. Processing the oak bark was carried out at the Liquor Works, at Balmaha which is now the Highland Way Inn.
At Port Bawn we stopped on the beach for lunch. It was quite busy – the weather had got warmer and it was very pleasant. Walk leader, Ruth, brought some home made flapjacks, which were excellent. An Osprey was seen catching a fish in the Loch and taking it to feed its young.
Summit of Inchcailloch
We then proceeded to the highest point of the Island, at 85 meters, to get fabulous views of Ben Lomond, Bein Bhreac, BeinnDubh Conic Hill, Inchfad Island and Glen Luss. Some walkers could be seen on Conic Hill and there were many small sailing boats on the Loch.
Glen Luss can be seen to the left in the photograph below.
The islands of Torrinch, Creinch and Inchmurrin can be seen in the photograph below. Inchmurrin is the largest island on Loch lomond.
Conic Hill is a sharp little summit rising above Balmaha. Right on the Highland Boundary Fault, this short hillwalk offers truly fantastic views over Loch Lomond and its many islands.
Birds and Plants
On the walk we saw a Tawney Owl, a Woodpecker, male and female Crossbills, Wood Warblers, Wren, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Canada Geese and Tree Pippit. There were also some interesting flowers such as the Yellow Pimpernel, Bitter Watercress, Wood Sorrell and Climbing Corydalis.
Highland Boundary Fault
The Highland Boundary Fault is a strike-slip fault that traverses Scotland from Arran and Helensburgh on the west coast to Stonehaven in the east. It separates two distinctly different physiographic and geological terranes – the Highlands from the Lowlands.
The loch islands of Inchmurrin, Creinch, Torrinch, and Inchcailloch all form part of the Highland Boundary Fault. On Inchcailloch could be seen ‘pudding stone’ or conglomerate which was formed more than 400 million years ago when rivers flowed down from mountains and brought sand, silt and pebbles with it. These solidified to create ‘pudding stone’ or conglomerate.
A good example of conglomerate was seen on the path down towards the Pier at the end of our walk. The ferry came at 16.00 as agreed to take us back to Balmaha.
It had been a fabulous day out thanks to our leader Ruth and all the SWT members of the group who provided such interesting information about the island and its wildlife.
Scottish Wildlife Trust:
Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
Balmaha Boatyard (MacFarlane & Son)