Places to Visit in Scotland
- Balloch Country Park and Castle
Visitors to Loch Lomond> often by-pass Balloch and head up the road on the west side of the loch. There are indeed some lovely views of Ben Lomond and places such as the conservation village of Luss (where the Scottish TV soap "High Road" is filmed) are a delight. But it is well worth a minor detour to the country park at Balloch, at the southern end of the loch.
The country park itself is 200 acres of woodland, parkland and ornamental gardens with pathways which go down to the shores of Loch Lomond. There are lots of corners for quiet picnics and the visitor centre has a small exhibition on the plants and animals which can be seen in the area.
The visitor centre is in Balloch Castle but this is a modern version, built in 1808. It used some of the stone from the original castle which had been built in 1238 by the Earls of Lennox (before they built a more secure stronghold on Inchmurrin Island on the loch). There is now only a mound and a depression which used to form the moat surviving from the original castle. The park is particularly attractive in the spring when the large numbers of rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom.
Balloch itself is the terminus of a railway line from Glasgow, 25 miles away. It is also a popular starting point for boat trips on Loch Lomond. It is also home to the paddle steamer "Maid of the Loch">. This is being refurbished and it is hoped that it too will by sailing again on the loch.
Balloch is likely to become a lot busier as there is a major development on the loch side at "Lomond Shores". This is opening in 2001 with a viewing terrace looking up Loch Lomond, a visitor centre, cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and woodland and nature trails - even a small beach and picnic areas. A new hotel is being built nearby.
Loch Lomond (and the adjoining Trossachs> area and Loch Katrine>) is to be Scotland's first National Park.
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