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Monks, marauders and madmen

Inchmurrin’s intriguing past
Crossing the loch with Ben Lomond behind

“Some years ago, many persons disordered in their senses were sent here as a place of confinement; and those of the fair sex, who were so unfortunate as to give pregnant proofs of their frailty were sent here to avoid the reproach of the world.”

Not quite Alcatraz perhaps, but also not quite the usual claim to fame for a Scottish island. It’s interesting though, as the island in question isn’t remote or somewhere far off out in the Atlantic, but right in the heart of Scotland, very close to those ‘bonnie, bonnie banks’. It’s called Inchmurrin and is one of the many islands in Loch Lomond. In fact, at one-and-a-half miles long it’s not only the largest island on the loch but also the largest in any freshwater loch in Britain.

If you’ve got your own boat you’ll need no help to reach Inchmurrin, while the rest of us can enjoy being carried across the loch in the little island ferry from the safe parking area at the Burnfoot Jetty at Arden, just north of Balloch. Or you can get there with the waterbus service from Balloch, or the post-boat from Balmaha.

Being in a small boat that sits low in the water, you get you a real feeling of being at sea, and the views up and down the loch on the short crossing are wonderful. Ben Lomond rises in front of you, forming a magnificent backdrop to Inchmurrin and on arrival the ferry moors in the small bay below Tigh-na- Camis, the island’s single-storey hotel and restaurant. On a recent visit we were blessed with one of those glorious sunny days that make living in Scotland so perfect, and, deciding to eat first then explore, we headed straight for the restaurant. Somehow the food tastes even better when it’s combined with stunning views, and we certainly had those: right out across the bay towards the south-western shore of Loch Lomond and beyond.

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iScot issue # 40 - April 2018 is now available to download - we apologise in advance for the sensitive nature of the front cover and suggest that one displays the issue face down on one’s coffee table.