5 Places to Swim around Loch Lomond:
By Alice Goodridge
Loch Lomond has become a very popular place for open water swimming over the last few years, with many groups and individuals swimming in the loch year-round. If you are travelling to Loch Lomond for the Go Swim event and fancy an extra dip, here are my top 5 locations to swim around Loch Lomond.
From Balloch, head north along the A82 for two kilometres. Turn right, signposted Duck Bay Hotel, and follow the road for a few hundred metres and you’ll see a car park on the left. Access to the water is a short walk from the car park, just north of Duck Bay Hotel walls.
If you swim parallel to the beach, you can easily stay within standing depth if you want to. Watch out for the semi-submerged posts if you swim to the right towards the hotel.
If you venture into deeper water, make sure you stay within the yellow-buoyed area. These are speed-restriction buoys for boat traffic, but sadly there is no guarantee that boats will pay attention to them. If you are lucky, you might see the seaplane taking off or landing while you swim!
Refreshments – Bobby’s Cafe inside Duck Bay Hotel is great for hot drinks and food.
Luss is around 14 kilometres north of Balloch on the western side of the loch; it is well signed from the A82. There is a large pay-and-display car park. Access to the water is short walk on a paved path to the beach.
This is an incredibly popular swimming spot; if you swim in the morning, you will likely find other people swimming too. The entry is sandy/gravelly and gently sloping. The beach and water can get very busy during peak times, so early or late swims are best to avoid the crowds and speedboats. You must wear a tow float if you swim here, and stay away from the pier, as this is where the larger tourist boats come in and out.
For something more organised, Inchbaggers Loch Lomond hold a social swim on Sunday mornings; there is a charge for safety cover.
Refreshments – The cafe at the Luss Village Shop is excellent for post-swim coffee, cake or something more substantial (including some good vegan options).
The car park at Firkin Point has a prominent entrance off the A82, between Inverbeg and Tarbet. From the car park, head straight across the cycle path to the little track behind
some signs, then either go straight ahead to the main beach or head right to reach the south bay.
This location is only suitable for experienced swimmers. The drastic change in depth is only a few metres from the shore and so this spot is not advised for nervous or beginner swimmers. You will also notice the sudden drop in temperature as you hit the deeper water. Inexperienced swimmers should opt for Luss or Duck Bay, where the entries are more gradual.
The south bay tends to be nice and quiet even when the other beach is busy. There don’t seem to be too many pleasure boats around this part of the loch but, to be safe, stick to the edge and wear a tow float.
Refreshments – There are lots of picnic benches at Firkin Point, which are great for bring- your-own post-swim snacks and hot drinks.
From Balloch, head east on the A811 towards Drymen. Heading towards the village, join the B858 and then the B837 to reach Balmaha. Around two kilometres past Balmaha, you will get to the entrances to the Milarrochy Bay car parks.
There are two small car parks with separate entrances and a wee bridge connecting them. The car park attendant will close the gate when the car park is full to prevent overcrowding. Thankfully the gates don’t get shut at night, so early morning swims are possible.
This is the best swimming spot I’ve found on the eastern side of Loch Lomond, although beware the dreaded midges in summer! I’m not sure why they are worse on this side of the loch, but they do seem to be. There are also usually fewer boats in this part of the loch, but always ensure that you are visible by wearing a tow float.
If you get in close to the car park and swim parallel to the shore, it is around 400 metres north (one way) to the end of the beach.
Refreshments – Either bring a picnic or stop at St Mocha Coffee Shop in Balmaha. It has fantastic coffee and delicious cakes and food.
Fancy something a bit different?
FALLS OF FALLOCH
With its viewpoint looking over the impressive waterfall, the Falls of Falloch are seven kilometres south of Crianlarich on the A82. The car park is signed but easy to miss. There is limited parking, and the car park is not suitable for long vehicles as there isn’t much room for turning. It is best to arrive early in the morning, before the crowds, if you want any chance of having the place to yourself.
It is also known as Rob Roy’s Bathtub as, according to legend, outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor used to bathe in the deep pool below the waterfall. It’s unsurprising then that the large deep pool has become a popular dipping spot.
I have enjoyed some wonderful dips here. The water is surprisingly clear, and you can swim right up to the waterfall after prolonged dry spells. While the pool beneath the waterfall can be calm and inviting, I have also seen the river raging with incredible force. Do not swim after heavy rain, as river levels can rise quickly. River levels really do need to be low for you to consider swimming here.
From the car park, follow the gravelly path parallel to the road for about 300 metres until you reach the viewpoint. Then, head down towards the river to a rocky area. I have found the best place to get in is at the point the river exits the pool, beneath the main viewpoint.
The entry is a bit tricky as you have to get into the river and over some rocks before you get into the pool. Make sure you have something grippy on your feet, as the rocks are very slippery. My tactic is to bum-slide across the rocks until I get into the pool, which is shallow at first but soon drops off and becomes very deep.
You might need to change quickly in the summer as there can be a lot of midges!
Refreshments – There are multiple options, depending on which direction you are travelling in. My favourites include, The Drovers Inn, Inverarnan, the Artisan Cafe & Deli, Tyndrum and The Real Food Cafe, Tyndrum.
Swimming Wild in Scotland by Alice Goodridge is an informative and inspiring guidebook for both new and experienced wild swimmers, featuring over 100 of the best wild swimming spots across the Scottish mainland and islands. It was published in May 2023 by Vertebrate Publishing and can be bought in bookshops or online from SwimWild – https://swimwild.myshopify.com/collections/ books/products/swimming-wild-in-scotland