Loch Lomond

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Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is a freshwater loch at the edge of the Highlands and formed in the Highland Boundary Fault between Dunbartonshire and Stirlingshire. It is the largest lake in Great Britain by surface area,[1] albeit beaten by several loughs of Ulster and Ireland.

The lake stretches in a long, thin ribbon from the mountains in the north to near Alexandria in the south, broadening in the south, where it contains many islands, including Inchmurrin, the largest fresh-water island in the British Isles.

Loch Lomond is a popular leisure destination and is featured in song, most famously in the The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond.


Loch Lomond is a freshwater loch lying on the Highland Boundary Fault, the boundary between the lowlands of Central Scotland and the Highlands. It is 24 miles long and between ¾ mile to 5 miles wide. It has an average depth of about 121 feet, and a maximum depth of about 620 feet. Its surface area measures 27 square miles, and it has a volume of 0.62 cubic miles. Of all lakes in Great Britain, it is the largest by surface area, and the largest after Loch Ness by water volume.[2] Within the United Kingdom, it is surpassed only by Lough Neagh and Lower Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.[3]

The northern part of the loch is narrow as it is caught between the steep sides of the mountains; a dramatic setting.

The loch forms the boundary between Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire. Its southern shores lie approximately 14 miles north of Glasgow.

Water flows into the loch in the north, from the River Endrick, Fruin Water and River Falloch. In the south it comes out in the River Leven.

Loch Lomond is now part of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Ben Lomond is on the eastern shore: 3,195 feet in height and the most southerly of the Scottish Munro peaks. A 2005 poll of Radio Times readers named Loch Lomond as the 6th greatest natural wonder in Britain.[4]

The main arterial route along the loch is the A82 road which runs the length of its western shore. For a long time this was a notorious bottleneck, with the route clogged with tourists during the summer months. It was upgraded in the 1980s and 1990s, although the stretch north of Tarbet remains unimproved.


From the summit of Inchcailloch to Torrinch, Creinch, Inchmurrin and Ben Bowie

The loch contains thirty or more islands.[5][Note 1] depending on the water level. Several of them are large by the standards of British bodies of freshwater. Inchmurrin, for example, is the largest island in a body of freshwater in the British Isles. As in Loch Tay, several of the islands appear to be crannogs; artificial islands built in prehistoric periods.

English travel writer, H V Morton wrote:

What a large part of Loch Lomond's beauty is due to its islands, those beautiful green tangled islands, that lie like jewels upon its surface.[10]

One of the loch's islands, Inchconnachan is home to a colony of wallaby.[11]

The main islands, all to be found in the south of the loch, are:

Island Parish County
Inchlonaig Luss Dunbartonshire
Fraoch Eilean Luss Dunbartonshire
Inchconnachan Luss Dunbartonshire
Inchtavannach Luss Dunbartonshire
Inchmoan Luss Dunbartonshire
Torrinch Kilmaronock Dunbartonshire
Creinch Kilmaronock Dunbartonshire
Inchmurrin Kilmaronock Dunbartonshire
Aber Isle Kilmaronock Dunbartonshire
Bucinch Buchanan Stirlingshire
Ceardach Buchanan Stirlingshire
Inchcruin Buchanan Stirlingshire
Inchfad Buchanan Stirlingshire
Ellanderroch Buchanan Stirlingshire
Inchcailloch Buchanan Stirlingshire
Clairinsh Buchanan Stirlingshire

Leisure activities

The Loch Lomond Golf Club is situated on the south-western shore. It has hosted many international events including the Scottish Open. Another golf club, "The Carrick" has opened on the banks of the Loch adjacent to the Loch Lomond Club.[12]

The West Highland Way runs along the eastern bank of the loch. The West Loch Lomond Cycle Path runs from Arrochar and Tarbet railway station, at the upper end of the loch, to Balloch railway station, at the south end. The 16.5 mile long cycle path runs along the west bank.

At the south end of the loch near Balloch is a large visitor and shopping complex named Loch Lomond Shores.

Boating and watersports

Loch Lomond is one of Scotland's premier boating and watersports venues and the scenery draws people from all over Scotland and beyond. The loch is open to every kind of watercraft including kayaks, canoes, wind-surfers, jetskis, speedboats and cruisers and they are all very well represented. Loch Lomond Rescue Boat provides 24-hour safety cover on the loch. The Rescue Boat is a Volunteer Organisation and a Registered Charity. The National Park Authority also have other boats on the Loch such as The Brigadier. Strathclyde Police also operate on the Loch using RIBs and Jet Skis and work in conjunction with the National Park Authority.

Maid of the Loch at Balloch pier

The National Park Authority has tried to achieve a balance between land-based tourists and loch users, with environmentally sensitive areas subject to a strictly enforced 5.4 knot speed limit, but the rest of the loch open to speeds of up to 49 knots.

Other leisure activities on the loch include cruises from the town of Balloch. The Maid of the Loch was the last paddle steamer built in Britain. Built on the Clyde in 1953, she operated on Loch Lomond for 29 years. She is now being restored at Balloch pier by the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, a charitable organisation, supported by the local council.[13]

Popular culture

Loch Lomond from just below Beinn Dubh and Creag an t-Seilich

The song

The loch is featured in a well-known song which was first published around 1841.[14] The chorus is:

Oh, ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye;
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

The song has been recorded by many performers over the years, from folk singers to punk-rockers. Both Runrig and Quadriga Consort used to perform Loch Lomond as their concert's final song.

The original author is unknown. One story is that the song was written by a Scottish soldier who awaited death in enemy captivity; in his final letter home, he wrote this song, portraying his home and how much he would miss it. Another tale is that during the 1745 Jacobite rising a soldier on his way back to Scotland during the 1745-6 retreat from England wrote this song.

The "low road" is a reference to the Gaelic belief that if someone died away from his homeland then the fairies would provide a route of this name for his soul to return home.[15]

Other popular culture

Loch Lomond (like Loch Ness) is often used as shorthand for all things Scottish, an image partly reinforced by the eponymous song. An archetype is the Lerner and Loewe musical Brigadoon. The opening lyrics of the song "Almost Like Being In Love" are: "Maybe the sun gave me the power/For I could swim Loch Lomond and be home in half an hour/Maybe the air gave me the drive/For I'm all aglow and alive!"

The village of Luss ("Glendarroch") on the shores of the loch was the location for the TV soap Take the High Road, and the loch itself was given the fictional name Loch Darroch for the purpose of the series. Luss ("Lios") and the islands nearby were used as the setting for E J Oxenham's first book, Goblin Island, published in 1907.[16]

Loch Lomond is also the fictional brand name of the Scotch whisky drunk by Captain Haddock in Hergé's famous comic book series The Adventures of Tintin.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Loch Lomond)


  1. Some of the islets in Loch Lomond may only appear when the water levels are low[6][7] and although many sources provide a figure of up to sixty islands, this may derive from a poetic 9th century description. Other sources suggest a total of 30 or 38 islands.[8][9]
  1. Peter Matthews, ed (1994). The Guinness Book of Records 1995. Guinness World Records Limited. p. 17. ISBN 0-85112-736-3. 
  2. "Scotland’s Water Environment Review 2000-2006" SEPA. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  3. Whitaker's Almanack (1991) London. J. Whitaker and Sons. p. 127.
  4. "Caves win 'natural wonder' vote" BBC.co.uk Retrieved 10 December 2006.
  5. "Loch Lomond Islands – Inchmurrin". Loch Lomond.net. http://www.loch-lomond.net/islands/inchmurrin.html. Retrieved 23 August 2007. 
  6. "Loch Lomond Islands" loch-lomond.me.uk. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  7. "Introduction to Loch Lomond Islands". Loch Lomond, Callander and Trossachs. http://www.incallander.co.uk/islands.htm. Retrieved 25 September 2008. 
  8. "The Loch" Loch Lomond.net. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  9. "The islands on Loch Lomond " visit-lochlomond.com. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  10. Morton, H. V. In Scotland Again (1933), Methuen London - p145
  11. Scottish Daily Record, 06/06/2009 Colony of Wallabies set for cull
  12. "The Carrick Visit Scotland. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
  13. "Maid of the Loch". Loch Lomond Steamship Company. http://www.maidoftheloch.com/. Retrieved 25 September 2008. 
  14. James J. Fuld, The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular and Folk, p. 336.
  15. Fraser, Amy Stewart (1977). In Memory Long. Routledge. pp. 54. ISBN 9780710085863. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=aY49AAAAIAAJ&dq=low+road+celtic+belief&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0. Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  16. Elsie J. Oxenham, Goblin Island, Collins (1907), p. 58.