Inversnaid on Loch Lomond

Today I went on a trip to Inversnaid on Loch Lomond. Inversnaid is on the eastern side of the loch and is quite difficult to get to by road. However, there are a few ferry companies who carry passengers on the loch, dropping them at various locations.

I used the company “Cruise Loch Lomond” who run cruises from Luss and Tarbet.

RSPB Inversnaid

The trip I went on today left from Tarbet and I had to travel on a Scottish Citylink bus as there is no train station in the village.

The weather was very good, with bright sunshine and high temperatures. At Inversnaid I was going on a guided tour round the 2000 acre Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reserve.

The ferry was on two levels, with an enclosed area below and an open area on top. As it was a very warm day, everyone sat on the top deck. Two reporters from BBC Radio Scotland were also on board, collecting material for a radio programme on the area.

The ferry had all the usual facilities and had a small area selling tea and coffee, as well as alcoholic beverages.

The journey across to Inversnaid was nice and smooth, as the water was very calm and we were given many interesting facts about the area by the captain.

Cameron House Hotel

The scenery in this part of the UK is spectacular and quite breathtaking and the many passengers enjoyed it. There were people from the USA, Australia, Southern Ireland and Southern England.

Loch Lomond
Blue area caused by Bluebells
Inversnaid Hotel

On the ferry we had spectacular views of the hills in the area including Ben Lomond. On approaching Inversnaid, the hotel there came into view. This was built as a hunting lodge for the Duke of Montrose in 1790.

Inversnaid Hotel

Many famous people have stayed there including Queen Victoria and William Wordsworth. American writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne also came here in 1857 and greatly admired the Lochs and mountain views. It is also believed that Robert the Bruce hid in a cave near the hotel during the Scottish Wars of Independence.

William Wordsworth wrote “To a Highland Lass” while staying at Inverbeg Hotel.
Sweet Highland Girl, a very shower
Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
Twice seven consenting years have shed
Their utmost bounty on thy head:
And these grey rocks; that household lawn;
Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn;
This fall of water that doth make
A murmur near the silent lake;
This little bay; a quiet road
That holds in shelter thy Abode—
 Arklet Falls

Next to the hotel are the Arklet Falls.

Inversnaid Hotel and Arklet Falls

RSPB Inversnaid

On arriving at Inversnaid we walked along part of the West Highland Way path before turning onto the path on the RSPB site.The bluebells were in full bloom and we were able to excellent views of these beautiful flowers.

Bluebells at Inversnaid
Bluebells at Inversnaid

Birds in the Area

As we walked along we heard Chaffinch, Wood Warbler, Blackcap, Cuckoo, Tree Pippit and a Woodpecker.

On some of the trees there were nesting boxes for Pied Flycatcher. These are specially designed to avoid the nest being attacked by Pine Martin.

Nesting box for Pied Flycatcher
The walk included a steep climb up steps to the summit but it was not too strenuous. The area is an SSSI – a site of special scientific interest and there are some rare plants and mosses in the area.
 
Tree with some rare moss

View of Loch Lomond from Top of a Hill

At the top we stopped to admired the views over Loch Lomond. 

View of Loch Lomond
View of Loch Lomond

Loch Sloy Hydro Electric Power Station

We then continued around the reserve before re-joining the West Highland Way path. Across the loch could be seen Loch Sloy Hydro Electric power station. This was opened by the late Queen Mother on 18th October 1950 and is still the largest hydro electric power station in the UK.

 On the way back a small frog was spotted on a path but it soon made its way back to the safety of the undergrowth.
 
Frog

West Highland Way

On walking back to Inversnaid we met many walkers on the West Highland Way. They were still  only a few days into the journey and the sunny weather helped keep their spirits up. 

I wondered how they might feel if the sunny weather had been replaced by wet and windy conditions.

On arriving back at Inversnaid we had lunch overlooking the loch.

 
View from ferry
Views at Lunch from Inversnaid

Ben Lomond

The ferry arrived at the correct time and the journey back was as smooth as the outward one. We were able to catch a glimpse of snow on Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond with patch of snow near the summit
View from the ferry

Honeymoon Island

On the way back we passed a small island called “Honeymoon Island”. This was used by local gypsies who were ferried to the island after being married. If the newly-married couple were able to live on the island for two weeks without having an argument it was sign the marriage would be a happy one.

Honeymoon Island
We also got another look at the hills surrounding the loch and again enjoy the beauty of the area.
 
Cruise Loch Lomond ferry on way to Inversnaid

Returning Home

Arriving back at Tarbet we enjoyed some ice cream at a cafe beside the loch before waiting for the bus to return us to Glasgow.

 
Ferry Terminal at Tarbet
Tarbet Hotel
Tarbet Hotel
The bus stop in the village are beside the beautiful Tarbet Hotel. The present building dates back 250 years and was built in the Baronial style. The views from the guest rooms provide good views of the loch.

The ferry company Cruise Loch Lomond organise a number of tours from Luss and Tarbet with various drop-off points so allows visitors to visit many of the more inaccessible places on the loch which are too difficult to travel to by road.

More photographs of the visit can be seen here.

Further Information 

Cruise Loch Lomond: http://www.cruiselochlomond.co.uk/

RSPB Inversnaid: http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/i/inversnaid/ 

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Linlithgow Palace – Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots

I have often passed through Linlithgow on the train when travelling from Glasgow to Edinburgh and decided that it was time to stop at this historic town to visit the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots in Linlithgow Palace.

This impressive building can be seen as the train approaches the station and it is only a short walk from there to the palace. The palace is now a ruin, but is still worth visiting because of its historical significance. It is managed by Historic Scotland, a government body. At the height of its splendour, the palace was one of the finest in Europe.
St Michael’s Church Spire
The modern main entrance was built for King James V around 1535 and
gave access to the ‘peel’ or outer enclosure surrounding the palace. Above the
arch are carved the arms of the four European Orders of Chivalry to which James V belonged: the Garter, bestowed by his uncle Henry VIII of England, the Thistle, which James himself founded, the Golden Fleece, given him by the Emperor Charles V and St Michael by Francis I of France. 
Next to the entrance is St Michael’s Church, which was used as a place of worship by Scottish Kings and Queens. Mary Queen of Scots was baptised there. The aluminium crown at the top of the tower was built in 1964 and represents the crown of thorns placed on the head of Christ by the Roman soldiers just before his crucifixion.
More on Linlithgow Palace can be read at:

Cramond Island and Village

On a visit to the Firth of Forth I went to Cramond Island. Cramond Island is one of a number of islands in the UK which can be accessed by a causeway during low tide. It is situated north-west of Edinburgh City.

The causeway to Cramond Island is about 1 mile in length and takes a reasonably fit person about 20 minutes to walk to from the mainland. Before walking to the island, it is advisable to check the safe times for visiting. These are displayed at the start of the walkway and should be studied before walking over the causeway.

The tide can come in at a fast rate, so ignoring the safe times can result in an extended stay on the island. The lifeboat at nearby South Queensferry spends much of its time rescuing people from the island.

Causeway to Crammond Island
Causeway to Cramond Island

The island itself is quite small,  being only 1/3 of a mile long and has the remains of buildings from the Second World War. The Firth of Forth was the most heavily defended coastal area in Britain during the war.

Causeway from Above
Causeway from Above

Buildings from the Second World War

Concrete blocks from Second World War
Concrete blocks from Second World War

On the causeway there are concrete blocks which were installed in the Second World War to prevent attack from German U-boats. These can be seen in the photograph above.

Buildings from the Second World War

Buildings from the Second World War

There are still many buildings remaining from the Second World War. These can be explored, as there are no doors or windows in them. The remains of the tarred roadway from the War is also still visible and a small landing platform could be seen on the north of the island.

Inchmickery

The island of Inchmickery can be seen in the distance. The island resembles a warship, due to the many buildings remaining from the World Wars. This island is now a Special Protection Area and home to a range of breeding seabirds including shag, eider and fulmar and puffins. The island was formerly a tern breeding colony and habitat management work is underway to restore nesting terns here.

Inchmickery Island
Inchmickery Island

Activities on the Island

As the island is quite small, walking round it is not too strenuous. There are a few hills, but they are not very steep. The paths are well-defined and it would be difficult to get lost on the island. It is also a good place for a picnic, but drinking water needs to be taken as the island does not have a source of drinking water.

We left the island at 15.00, giving enough time to get back to the mainland without getting caught by the incoming tide.

Cramond Village

The village of Cramond is very picturesque and includes a small harbour, a hotel and some old-fashioned inns. The author JK Rowling lives in the village.

Cramond Kirk

Cramond Kirk is build on the site of a Roman Fort from the time of  Roman Emperor Septimius Severus in AD208. The Romans abandoned Cramond in AD212 and the settlement was then used by the locals.

Crammond Kirk
Crammond Kirk

The oldest part of the kirk is the tower which dates from the 1400’s. The kirk was rebuilt after the Reformation. The interior is superb, but unfortunately there was not enough time to investigate further.

It was time to return home. It had been a good day at Cramond.

Further information

Cramond is situated north west of Edinburgh near South Queensferry. The times of the tides should be consulted before going to the island.