Kayaking Loch Lomond | A Definitive Paddling Guide
Loch Lomond is a magnificent 23 mile long waterway and must-do kayaking destination for the passionate paddler.
Situated right at the doorstep to the breath-taking Scottish Highlands, Loch Lomond is bestowed with awesome scenery, abundant wildlife and a rich heritage making it a very popular place for tourism, and for kayaking.
Being the largest lake in Great Britain (by surface area) means there are many and varied kayaking opportunities available on the loch suiting beginners right through to advanced kayakers.
The waterway is used as a recreational destination regularly by kayakers, boaters, campers, canoeists, fisherman, sailers, water skiers, hikers and the like. Because of this fact it’s important for any visitor to understand, that as a source of drinking water for millions of Scots, Loch Lomond needs to be treated with respect to maintain its high quality environmental interests.
Kayaking Loch Lomond has definitely been one of our Scottish kayaking highlights and we do hope you not only enjoy this read, but that you gain some valuable insights to the loch itself in terms of facts, tourism and your responsibilities as a paddler.
Understanding all of these things will ensure that the loch will not be over utilised nor the environment surrounding or within be degraded. As a result, this fantastic destination should certainly be available to avid paddlers long into the future.
In this blog we’ll cover the best places to kayak on Loch Lomond, how to get to Loch Lomond, and provide an extensive overview of many of the kayaking opportunities that Loch Lomond provides.
Best Places to Kayak on Loch Lomond
1- Kayaking from Aldochlay
This small hamlet on the western shore of Loch Lomond is a great place to kayak from especially if you have an interest in paddling to some of the lochs’ bigger islands. This is the closest point to launch from to explore the islands with the crossing to the closest island being only around 150 yards.
Directly offshore from Aldochlay are the islands of Inchtavannach, Inchconnachenand Inchmoan. All these islands offer differing landscapes and varieties of flora and fauna as well as different aspects of historical reference.
On these islands, you’ll discover secluded bays, sandy beaches, unknown campsites, abandoned buildings, and even a colony of wallabies
2 – Kayaking from Balloch
Balloch, at the southern end of the loch, is the largest town on the waterway so provides the widest array of facilities, accommodations, and attractions in the area.
Balloch is a popular spot for kayakers because of the fact that you can not only paddle the loch to the north but also the River Levern is navigable to the south, all the way to the River Clyde and eventually to the Firth of Clyde and the open sea.
3 – Kayaking from Ardlui
At the opposite end of the loch from Balloch stands the tiny settlement of Ardlui. This destination also has the added benefit of a river. Flowing into the Loch from the north, the River Falloch offers more shelter than the open loch, making this end of the loch ideal for beginners.
For the more adventurous kayaker, however, why not attempt the paddle to the Island I Vow.
The island, which is around one and a half miles paddle south of Ardlui, is protected by the Scottish Government and treated as an area of national and international importance. Island I Vow was once the stronghold of the Clan MacFarlane and you can still explore the ancient castle ruins on the island.
4 – Kayaking from Tarbet
On the western shoreline and two-thirds, the way towards the north of the loch lies the tiny village of Tarbet.
Kayaking here offers magnificent views across the loch to the imposing peak of Ben Lomond and wide-open water spaces ideal for all paddling fitness levels. Just a little further north than Tarbet Isle, a short paddle up the loch from the village, is the Deepest part of Loch Lomond at around 630 feet.
The added bonus of selecting Tarbet as your launching destination is that just a mile and a half west lies the sea waterway of Loch Long which also offers some awesome kayaking scenery and, as the loch is saltwater, an array of sea-going wildlife such as dolphins and even the occasional whale.
5 – Kayaking from Balmaha
Opposite Aldochlay on the eastern-shore is the village of Balmaha which has become increasingly popular with kayakers, water sport enthusiasts, hikers, and day-tripping picnickers. With a quaint little harbour backed by the town with views across to woodland and mountains, this village is also very popular with photographers.
The Islands of Inccailloch, Inchfad, and Calirnsh lie just off the shoreline of Balmaha and are popular kayaking destinations. Inccailloch has some ancient church ruins and a graveyard that had been in use as recently as 1947 as well as a 150-foot high peak which affords awesome views over Loch Lomond.
6 – Kayaking from Rowardennan
The small rural community of Rowardennan lies at the northern end of the B837 (the West Highland Way) on the eastern shore of the loch.
There are easy launch spots here for access to Loch Lomond and there are coves and inlets all along this stretch of shoreline to explore. Three tiny islets in the loch here provide picture opportunities and although they are really nothing more than lightly vegetated rocky outcrops they are worth a landing and look about.
Paddling just a couple of miles south of Rowardennan you’ll reach Sallochy and the Ross Promontory and further islets to explore.
Do You Need a Permit to Kayak on Loch Lomond
No licence is required to kayak Loch Lomond (or other waterways in Scotland) thanks to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act of 2003 which states “The public now have access rights to most land and water, subject to behaving responsibly”
Those rights mentioned above are fully explained on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website and you can find an information Summary Page here.
The Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority has a fantastic Paddlers Access Code download pdf which explains everything clearly and outlines the responsibilities a paddler must adhere to in order to utilise those very generous access rights. They also have a very informative pdf in regards to specific Loch Lomond Byelaws which is worth a read before visiting.
The core key principles of the access rights are simple:
- Care for the environment;
- Take responsibility for your own actions;
- Respect the interests of other people
Loch Lomond Weather
Checking out the weather forecast before visiting and potential destination, for most people, is an essential part of their kayaking planning. As always we’ve found the Met Office to have the most reliable and up to date information on all destinations we visit. The Weather on Loch Lomond has been described as changeable so being prepared for fluctuations is highly recommended.
With July being the hottest month in Scotland it’s no wonder Loch Lomond is so popular throughout that month and into August.
The average temperature in July is 18 degrees Celsius but certainly there are days much hotter than that. The record high temperature for Loch Lomond is 29 degree Celsius. Both the wettest month and the coldest months recorded have both occurred in December.
Wind speed over the loch is usually at its highest through the Jan to Mar period each year.
Loch Lomond Water Temperature
The water temperature in the height of summer in Loch Lomond has often been described as being cold to very cold so make your own assumptions from that. In fact the high average water temperature is just 15 degrees Celsius which occurs in August and for many that would be deemed far too cold to be on the water. If you are a local you might find this a barmy temp for kayaking or taking a quick splash but folks from further south might find themselves feeling like they are literally freezing.
For almost all prolonged periods of immersion in the lochs waters, a wetsuit should be mandatory. Plenty of people have been recorded as having suffered from hypothermia in Loch Lomond so please make sure you are prepared.
Thankfully there are all sorts of protective clothing and equipment that a kayaker can utilise to minimise the cold temperatures of the loch.
Loch Lomond Leisure Kayaking
We hope you enjoy this amazing drone footage of Kayaking on Loch Lomond. Such a gorgeous setting to explore a wonderfull corner of the world. We’d love it if you’d check out our YouTube Channel (and maybe subscribe if you feel comfortable doing so!)
Loch Lomond Map
The best online map of Loch Lomond that we’ve found is the one provided by the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority and you can view that pdf here.
We’ve also created this shareable Google Map with all the best places listed from which to Launch and Kayak on Loch Lomond.
Please feel free to share the map using the share link icon!