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Stage 1

Balloch Tourism Information Office to The Hill House in Helensburgh: 14.5km, 9 miles; ascent about 400m.

Utilising existing minor roads, a historic right of way, forest roads, footpaths and informal trods, this section crosses the Killoeter/Ben Bouie upland between Balloch and Helensburgh. The route gives excellent views over Loch Lomond, Helensburgh and the Firth of Clyde, but a trackless section In the middle involves a 50 metre climb up the forested Killoeter escarpment and may require some navigational ability. Work associated with the John Muir Way project has now started in this area and extra care should be exercised near any earth moving plant which may be operating. As work progresses some details of the route may change.

Those cycling will find a continuous cycle path beside the A82 and A818 linking Balloch and Helensburgh. The seriously dedicated (or is that mad?) mountain biker will of course think nothing of tackling the upland route as described - just be prepared to do a lot of carrying and pushing!

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Map files courtesy of Argyll and Bute Council. Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. Crown copyright and database right 2009. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100023368

Directions

From the Balloch Visitor Information Centre (opposite the railway station) start by heading east for a few metres before turning north into the riverside car park. At the north end of the car park pick up the riverside walkway and follow for 500 metres to the Loch Lomond Shores retail complex.

At the western end of the "retail crescent" turn left at the "Gateway Centre" and walk 400 metres southwest on the pavement fringing the large car park until you reach the Old Luss Road where you turn left, walking for 250 metres before turning right onto the ancient drove and coffin route known as 'Stoneymollan Road'.

After about 400 metres or so the lovely old road is cut by the A82 and a pedestrian overpass takes you across the busy carriageway. The strange timber and steel "coronet" which graces the roundabout announces the entrance to the National Park. Perhaps predictably, the cynical locals have dubbed it "The Rack of Lamb"!

Continue following the Stoneymollan Road uphill where after 600 metres you pass through a gate. The route now becomes a rough track which you follow uphill for a kilometre or so before passing through another gate into a forestry plantation.

FORESTRY OPERATIONS - DARLEITH MUIR / STONEYMOLLAN MUIR AREA

Please note contractors will be working on the forestry roads in this area for a period of 3-4 weeks beginning 17 March 2014.

After 450 metres a waymarker indicates a right turn at the crossroads. Follow the forestry road 800 metres to the Darleith Muir T junction at GR 352822.

As indicated by the waymarking post, turn right at the Darleith Muir ‘T’ junction and head north for 200m to the northern edge of the Darleith Muir plantation.

This next section is currently undergoing major improvement works.The route as described below is liable to change as work progresses.

Turn left at the dry stane dyke and keeping the dyke to your right, follow it NW for 400m until you cross the headwaters of the Auchendennan Burn below the boggy footslopes of the Killoeter Escarpment. Continue straight up the steep escarpment for 100m or so and, around GR 348826, turn right to head NNE diagonally upslope following the red and white tape through the trees and arriving after 100m at the end of a forestry road. The road heads NNE for 0.5km before swinging west at Goukhill. Around 346829, a waymarker indicates a left turn at a T junction.

Shortly after the waymarker, a signpost indicates a short detour along a reddish coloured path out to spot height 281on Goukhill Muir where you will be rewarded with stunning views over Loch Lomond.

100m SW from the viewpoint signpost, at 344828, the road swings north at a signpost which shows the way over the soon to be completed Camis Eskan path to Helensburgh. (An alternative is to follow the John Muir route here which continues on down the forestry road. However we don't recommend this as the dense conifers block the view and you end up approaching Helensburgh along a cycle track close to the very busy A818 road)

Taking the Camis Eskan route, a gate is reached in a little under 200m. Through the gate the new path descends towards Helensburgh through the Camis Eskan forestry plantation and soon gives grand views over the town, the Firth of Clyde and Glen Fruin. Continue down the path until you cross a new forestry road near Northfield Wood at grid ref 332821. A sign here points the way down the attractive Red Burn trail which leads down through Quarry Wood to a forestry road where a left turn takes you through a disused sheep fank.

After the fank the track heads down towards a green metal clad barn. Just past the barn go through the self closing gate and follow the tracks downhill to the housing areas and main A814 road into Helensburgh.’ This first section terminates on the northern outskirts of Helensburgh at Charles Rennie MacIntosh's The Hill House (National Trust, open afternoons only from Easter until September). The route shown - along East Clyde Street and then up Colquhoun Street - passes the town's three railway stations and the Visit Helensburgh visitor information centre near the pier. Don't miss some short detours to explore the leafy back streets, where you can admire the fine gardens and stone built Victorian and Edwardian villas for which Helensburgh is justifiably renowned. In late April early May you'll find the town's spectacular collection of streets trees in a froth of pink and white blossom. A good range of accommodation and a rich variety of eateries will enhance your time in this unique town.

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Heading up the Stoneymollan Road
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The bend at 344828. Head SW here over the moor for the Camis Eskan path down to Helensburgh.

Path crossing forestry road at Northfield Wood. (In bad weather you can avoid any long wet vegetation on the Red Burn Trail by taking a right here and walking 100 m or so up the forestry road before turning left onto the side road which brings you down to the sheep fank described above).

Goukhil Muir at 344828. The Loch Lomond view point is accessed by the reddish path on the treeless ridge to the left of the walker.

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The Three Lochs Way is an idea developed by Helensburgh and District Access Trust. 2010


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