In this final post of the series on Loch Lomond and the Trossachs (for now), I’ll be rounding up the “odds and ends” – the extra locations and shot ideas that I think are worth mentioning but didn’t make it into a post of their own. This might be a bit long, so brace yourself and dive in…
We’ve done this family walk several times. Conic Hill isn’t especially high compared to some of the hills around the National Park, but the summit is a great achievement for younger walkers. Park at the main car park in Balmaha and follow the way-marked trail out of the north end of the car park.
From the summit you can either retrace your steps or, as we do, follow the ridge (marked Druim nam Buraich on the OS 1:25,000 map) back to the shore of Loch Lomond before turning south back to the village. A major attraction is the Oak Tree Inn opposite the car park, which serves great food!
Ben Venue from Loch Achray Shore
As I returned from my Ben A’an photo walk, I wandered down to the edge of the Loch to cool down from my yomp back down the hill. There was a fantastic view of Ben Venue not 50 yards from where I’d parked the car. I was too late that evening but I still plan to return on a calm evening to make a shot with the Ben and sunset colours reflected on the Loch.
The Wallace Monument is the tower to the north of Stirling on top of Abbey Craig on the banks of the River Forth. You can get some fantastic views from the top, although I don’t recommend it to vertigo sufferers. I’ve never been brilliant with exposed heights on man-made structures but the first time I reached the viewing platform at the top I had to lie on the floor for a bit until I got used to being up there. Weirdly, I don’t have the same problem on a mountain… The spiral stairs are narrow and steep, so don’t expect to be able to carry large packs or big tripods up there.
As well as views from the top, there are some great creative angles and details you can see from the grounds at the base.
This one was taken from Stirling Castle, but I’ve had my eye on a shot from the graveyard. You will need a longer lens than a standard zoom, probably around 200-300mm. I envisage this one on a stormy evening, with dark clouds behind and a shaft golden light breaking through the clouds to pick out the monument.
Castles and Ruins
I love a good castle. I have fond memories of childhood holidays in North Wales exploring the ruins. There are plenty of historic buildings in Scotland and three of the best in the area (in my opinion) are Stirling Castle, Doune Castle and Inchmaholme Priory. Of course, these are normally private property so you’re limited as to what you can do with your images without a property release, but they’re still great subjects. And some, like Stirling Castle, can be shot from public property…
Lime Craig Viewpoint
This is another family walk, which we normally do from the Forestry Commission’s Braeval car park. Following the tracks up to the summit, you’ll find a concrete platform where a radio mast used to stand. From here, there are views across to Craigmore and Ben Venue, Duke’s Pass, north towards Ben Ledi and down towards the David Marshall Lodge, like these:
Lochan a’ Ghleannain
Another family walk this one, from the car park at Milton. This was taken from the east end of the Lochan:
In summer there are plenty of butterflies in the verges:
There’s also a sculpture trail in the forest, which adds an extra dimension for children (and adults) to enjoy.
Zoos and Wildlife Parks
Zoos aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m not going to start up a debate on them here. Photographically, they offer a great opportunity to see wildlife you might not ordinarily get the opportunity to. Blair Drummond Wildlife Park has a wide variety of animals and with care you can shoot to exclude the backgrounds – it might almost be like you’re on safari:
Again, you’re shooting on private property so need to consider property releases for commercial purposes, but they can provide a certain amount of experience to the novice wildlifer (like me). I particularly love to see birds of prey in flight and Blair Drummond flies displays several times a day:
A bit further afield there’s also Edinburgh Zoo.
Guess what? Family walk! For this one, we parked at Brig o’ Turk and walked in following the forest tracks and paths to reach the view down the loch. The round trip was longer than the guide book had it pegged, I recorded 6 miles against the guide book’s 4. It would be possible to reach the loch by using the forest drive, but I’m too tight to pay the toll! 🙂 The section along the loch side here was particularly pleasant.
The End…for now
In this series of posts I’ve to shared the best of my photo experiences in the national park. I’ve really only scratched the surface, so I hope that you find something useful in here or inspiration to go out and find locations of your own.