Conic Hill is a delightful place for a walk with breathtaking views over Loch Lomond. Many locals and visitors come to Balmaha all year round to enjoy the scenery and take on the walk in this beautiful part of Scotland.
Conic Hill is a beginners walk and is family friendly as well. If you are not sure if you want to walk all the way to the top, you can enjoy the views from the half way point as well.
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Conic Hill from Balmaha Circular - The Best Views over Loch Lomond
Conic Hill is a great walk for anyone who is wanting to start hill walking or just wanting to take in some hill top views. In this guide, we will discuss the walk up to Conic Hill and the Balmaha Circular as well as the following
- Where is Conic Hill?
- Conic Hill
- Balmaha Circular
- Other activities in Balmaha
- Preparing for your trip to Balmaha
Where is Conic Hill?
Conic Hill is located on the eastern side of Loch Lomond, beside the small village of Balmaha and must be included in your Loch Lomond road trip. The hill itself lies on the Highland boundary fault line that separates the highlands from the lowlands. Conic Hill is a small, yet steep hill however, you don’t need to reach the top to get the best views. Around a third of the 361m climb and you will start to see expansive views over Loch Lomond and the surrounding islands. Ben Lomond is also visible from Conic Hill, which is Scotland’s most southerly munro.
Balmaha is a must visit place in Loch Lomond. It is the small village sitting on the eastern side of Loch Lomond where you will start your walk. This area is bustling with tourists as there are many great things to do in the area. We love it here. If you enjoy walking, there are plenty of walks for different abilities around Balmaha if you aren’t wanting the ascent up Conic Hill. Parking at Balmaha is currently free however, pay and display machines have been built with the intention that visitors will need to pay. On a sunny day, Balmaha is a popular spot so you may find it harder to get parked.
The walk up Conic Hill starts from the large car park at Balmaha. There are pay and display machines in the car park, as pictured below, however these are not currently in use. The walk starts as a gentle walk through the forest on a stoney, forestry path. When you reach a cross roads in the path, follow it left and continue up the hill. You will come across a set of wooden stairs leading to a gate. When you cross through the small gate, the hill will become steeper as you leave the covered forest and you will approach some stairs.
The stairs continue on, winding up the hill and at some points may become uneven and more rocky. If it has been raining, there is also an area where a small stream will start to run down the rocks on the path. Half way up, the forest on your left will end and you will see some beautiful views across Loch Lomond. This is the perfect place for a pit stop and photo.
You will see the path naturally turning to the right, if you want to go to the top, follow the tracks up the hill. This part can be more muddy and slippy underfoot. You will be able to see the summit in the distance and it is a little bit of a scramble to get up the rocks to get there.
It can be windy at the summit so we would recommend if you plan on spending any time up here admiring the view, taking photos or having lunch, then you make sure you have a warm layer to shelter from the wind.
When you get there, the views and the breathless will all be worth it as the 360 panorama views that surround you are insane.
To get down from Conic Hill, you can either follow the route that you took up, or if you would like a bit more of a quieter and more scenic route, then you can follow a different path back to Balmaha.
The circular trail is a 5km walk, climbing over the ridge of the summits before taking a right turn onto the main route again. As you can see in the photo above, it looks like the trail goes all the way to the end, this is possible but it is a real scramble so if you are not comfortable with that we would recommend taking a right turn doe the grass path after this bit.
When you reach the cross roads, instead of turning left to walk through the forest route that you came up, carry on straight towards the loch. You will need to look out for the sheep trails as the path isn’t very clear, but as long as you keep heading towards the loch, you are going in the right direction.
It can become a bit muddy underfoot if it has been wet so take it slowly if you don’t want to fall! You will cross a small stream and start to follow the path right until you come to a gate at the road. Eventually you will meet the road, follow it to the left and you will arrive back into the centre of Balmaha where you started.
The walk is 4km in total and will take roughly 2-3 hours to complete. Finish it off with a nice ice cream or cold beverage at the Oak Tree Inn.
Other activities in Balmaha
If you are into your water activities, Balmaha Bunkhouse offers canoe rental, so you can head out to explore the local area by boat. There are also a variety of different cruises that leave from Balmaha, including the water taxi. You can purchase your tickets for these at the Village Shop.
Before You Leave for Loch Lomond
Before you set off on your trip to Loch Lomond, there are a number of things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. These include what to pack, where to stay and what is the best insurance for your trip to Scotland. All of this is discussed in detail below.
How to get to Balmaha
If you are planning to camp around Loch Lomond then your two easiest options are driving or walking. Public transport is hard to come by around this area and is very infrequent. If you have a car, perfect you can chuck everything into the back and you’re good to go.
If you plan on hiking your way around the camping spots in Loch Lomond then you are in for a fantastic adventure along the pretty banks of this loch. There is a popular walking route along the eastern banks of the loch that is part of the West Highland Way. This will take you the length of the loch and will continue all the way to Fort William.
Drive – Balmaha is around a 34km drive from Glasgow taking around 50 minutes to get to. Drive through Bearsden and Drymen to get to Balmaha. From Edinburgh, the journey will take an hour longer than from Glasgow.
Public Transport – Catch the train to Balloch from Glasgow Queen Street and then change onto the 309 bus that will take you directly to Balmaha.
Given the remote location of the Balmaha, the best way to get around there is walking, driving or cycling. The village is very small and easy to walk around but if you are wanting to explore further out, we would recommend bringing a car.
What Should I Pack for Conic Hill?
If you are heading up Conic Hill on a day walk, you won’t need to pack much. However we would recommend that you wear comfortable walking boots and socks. Being in Scotland even on a sunny day, we would recommend packing a waterproof jacket, just in case. Below are the average temperatures in Scotland throughout the year.
Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C
Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C
Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C
Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C
As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. The best way to pack for your trip to the highlands is with layers that can be added and removed as you need them. You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the colder months and will most likely need sunscreen to protect you on the long days in the open.
Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Scotland, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.
Where Should I Stay In Balmaha?
The Oak Tree Inn is situated in the heart of Balmaha and has beautiful individually decorated rooms. For breakfast there is a full buffet and other meals you can eat at the restaurant downstairs by the log fire.
You can also keep an eye out for other B&Bs, Airbnbs, converted cottages and other quirky accommodations nearby.
Depending on how adventurous you are, there may be more accommodation choices than just the above, often with an even better view. Caravan and camping sites are abundant in Loch Lomond, drawing camping enthusiasts from all over the world. For some of the most spectacular bedside scenery along Loch Lomond we recommend packing a tent and getting in touch with nature for the week.
The nearest campsite is Milarrochy Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site near Drymen, a 5 minute drive away.
What is the Best Travel Insurance?
No matter what type of adventure you are heading on, whether it is a mountain adventure or a relaxing beach destination, one thing we all need to be aware of is that accidents can happen. The last thing you want is for an unexpected medical emergency to ruin your trip of a lifetime. Luckily, that is what travel insurance is for.
Whenever we travel abroad, we get covered with World Nomad’s Travel Insurance, a reliable, friendly and extremely affordable method of covering yourself on any adventure. With years of experience working for backpackers around the globe, the service they provide is perfect for whatever type of trip you have planned.
So there you have it, your complete guide to visiting Conic Hill in Balmaha. If you are visiting this incredible part of Scotland and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! If you have already been, let us know how it was! What sight was your favourite? Do you have any other recommendations for us? Let us know in the comments below!
Also remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to share this trip with. Sharing is caring and we want to ensure that everyone is fully prepared to and knows what to expect on the banks of Loch Lomond.
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