Ike visits Inchailloch, a small island on Loch Lomond

Back in the spring Ike and Jane decided between themselves to visit the small island of Inchailloch on Loch Lomond. They took the train to the town of Balloch in Dunbartonshire and then a small bus to village of  Balmaha on the south of the loch. This is the shortest ferry service to the island. A longer ferry service leaves from Luss Pier on the west of Loch Lomond. They enjoyed taking that boat trip on another occasion.

The boat which transports passengers to Inchcailloch is called “Margaret”. Jane told Ike that this is the boat she has travelled on for as many years as she can remember. The journey only takes a few minutes and was very smooth.

As “Margaret” approaches Inchcailloch

The jetty at Inchalloch is a small wooden one and there is a steep climb to the main path on the island. Fortunately, the stone steps were dry as Jane said they probably would be very slippery when wet.

The pier at Inchcailloch

Once on the island they were able to admire the carpet of bluebells.

Inchcailloch Cemetery

In 717AD three Christian missionaries arrived in Scotland from Ireland. They were the widowed St Kentigerna, the daughter of a King of Leinster, and her brother and her son. After much travelling the old woman settled on the island, which because of her became known as Inchcailloch – “Isle of the old woman”.


In the 12th or early 13th century a church was built and dedicated to her memory. In 1670 the church on Inchcailloch was abandoned in favour of one on the mainland.  The graveyard continued to be used with the last burial being in 1947.

The churchyard is about a quarter of a mile above the landing jetty opposite Balmaha. Inchcailloch was the ancient burying place of the Clan MacGregor, but the name most in evidence is MacFarlane. Many ancestors of the McFarlane clan are buried here.

Only the foundation outline of the church remains visible.

Ike examines the foundations of the church
Ike on the gravestone of Gregor McGregor, Chief of Clan Gregor and cousin of Rob Roy
Site of the vestry
View of the graveyard from the site of the church

After visiting the graveyard and church Ike and Jane walked in an anti-clockwise direction on the north side of the island. They enjoyed a great view of Loch Lomond when the path turned left and the loch became visible.

Looking north across Loch Lomond

Port Bawn

After a lovely walk along the path, Ike and Jane arrived in Port Bawn which has a lovely beach. There is also a small jetty where ferries from the village of Luss  can drop off passengers. There are a number of picnic tables and toilet facilities in the area around the beach area.

Visitors are asked to bring their own water as there is no water on the island and to take all their rubbish away with them as there are no litter bins on the island.

Ike on the Bawn Bay beach

After Lunch

After lunch Ike and Jane continued walking in their anti-clockwise direction and took the path on the right which involved a short climb to the highest point of the island. At the top of the climb Ike and Jane were rewarded with some great views of Loch Lomond and the surrounding hills.

Looking across to Conic Hill
Conic Hill

After spending some time admiring the view, they started to walk down the steps to the main path to catch the ferry back to Balmaha.

Climbing down after enjoying the views
Gazing across to the mainland
On the ferry back, coming into Balmaha

Balmaha

Back at the boatyard Ike took a fancy to a small boat but it was not for sale.

After arriving back at Balmaha, Ike and Jane agreed that it had been a great day out. Before going to catch the bus back to Balloch they bought a nice cup of tea at the small shop in Balmaha and drank it in the warm sunshine. 

Further information:

Inchcailloch can be reached by a regular ferry from the Boatyard at Balmaha. The boatyard is along the road next to the Oak Tree Inn. Return fare is £7.50. (Please note that there is a steep climb from the jetty on Inchcailloch).

 Another ferry runs from the village of Luss and drops passengers at Bawn Bay. This is an easier access point for those with mobility issues.

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