"The word Loch
is derived from the Gaelic language and means lake or sea inlet"
The great loch of Loch Lomond is the largest expanse of fresh water in the United Kingdom, home to an untold variety of wildlife spread over almost forty islands. The loch lies at the geographic boundary between the Highlands and the Lowlands (a line which can be discerned with the naked eye from nearby Conic Hill on the south-east shore). It is the clash of these two distinct terrains that creates the explosion of varied life that is the region's hallmark. At 24 miles long by five miles wide with a depth in some areas exceeding 500 meters, Loch Lomond is also home to dozens of varities of fish, including salmon, sea trout, pike, perch, dace and chub.
All but three of Loch Lomond's islands are privately owned. The exceptions are Inchcailloch, Bucinch and Ceardach, controlled respectively by the National Nature Reserve and National Trust for Scotland. These islands may be visited for free, but dogs are prohibited due to the number of sensitive ground-nesting bird species. Wildlife seekers can also turn to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, 170 square kilometres of protected Scottish wilderness including Breadalbane's famous eagle country and the Argyll Forest as its fallow deer. Local lochs play host to porpoises and seals.
The main rail line from Glasgow stops in the Vale of the Leven (or simply "The Vale"), a collection of small villages often called Alexandria
by outsiders after one of the larger amalgamated towns. Other centres include Renton, Jamestown, Bonhill, Tullichewan and Balloch. This pocket of rural paradise is home to the River Leven, the second swiftest river in Scotland.
Balloch was also home to the powerful Earls of Lennox who owned most of the region between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, leaving castles or ruined castles at Balloch, Inchmurrin and Boturich. Ruins of a MacFarlane castle decimated by Cromwell can be toured at Inveruglas.
Nearby is the charming village of Luss. Local festivities include Barclays Scottish Open (July) and the Loch Lomond Highland Games (July).