town in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, UK

Balloch is a town on Clydeside in central Scotland, on the southern shore of Loch Lomond. It expanded from 1850 when the railway arrived, bringing trippers from Glasgow to the pier, whence boats and charabancs conveyed them around the loch. Balloch is still easy to reach by public transport, but this part of the loch is lowland and urban, and few boats now sail so you need your own transport to reach the more attractive areas of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Balloch in 2020 had a population of 6010.

The short River Leven drains the loch, flowing south from Balloch through Jamestown, Alexandria (the largest town), Bonhill and Renton. This Vale of Leven conurbation, population 20,000, is industrial and residential, with little to interest the visitor. The river flows into the Clyde estuary at Dumbarton.

Get inEdit

Loch Lomond from Balloch

Balloch is nowadays bypassed to the west by A82, the main road from Glasgow to the Highlands, and to the south by A811 towards Stirling. Bicycles may use A82 but it's always pounding with traffic, consider using the old road B857.

By trainEdit

Two trains per hour run M-Sa from Glasgow Queen Street, taking 50 min to Balloch via Dumbarton East and Central and Alexandria. These trains start from Airdrie and Coatbridge. On Sundays the trains run instead from Motherwell and Glasgow Central.

1 Balloch railway station is on the west bank of the river next to Balloch Road bridge, 100 yards from the ferry jetty.

By busEdit

First Glasgow Buses 1 / 1A run from Glasgow Osborne Street (stop 2) via Clydebank, Old Kilpatrick, Dumbarton and Alexandria, taking 1 hour 45 min to Balloch. They run every 15 min M-Sa and every 30 min on Sunday.

Scottish Citylink coaches from Glasgow to the Highlands run along A82 a mile west of Balloch: the bus stop is by the roundabout junction with A811. It's seldom convenient to use them to get here from Glasgow, but they take you from Balloch direct to Inveraray, Oban, Campbeltown, Fort William and Skye without doubling back via Glasgow. One bus a day (for Campbeltown) runs via the airport (GLA IATA) stand 9, northbound at 14:30 and southbound from Balloch at 12:00.

First Bus 206 runs from Dumbarton via Alexandria to Balloch, taking 50 min. It's every 30 min M-Sa and hourly on Sunday.

McColls Bus 306 runs 3-5 times a day from Helensburgh via Arden on the west loch shore and the A82 / A811 roundabout near Balloch to Alexandria. It's usually simpler to take the 1 / 1A and change in Dumbarton.

Get aroundEdit

Walk: it's easy enough to walk between Balloch village, the Loch Lomond Shores shopping centre, and Balloch Castle and Park.

By bus: Garelochhead Bus 207 runs hourly M-Sa from Bonhill to Alexandria, Balloch and the Loch Lomond Shores shopping centre. Their bus 305 runs daily every couple of hours from Alexandria to Balloch, Arden and Luss on the west loch shore. Their bus 309 runs daily every hour or two from Alexandria to Balloch, Drymen and Balmaha on the east loch shore.

By bike: a cycle path runs from Balloch along bypassed loops of road and purpose-built track along the west bank of the loch via Arden, Luss and Inverbeg to Tarbet, 17 miles in all. It's level going and suitable also for hikers, wheelchairs and horses.

By boat: Sweeney's Cruises sail May-Sept 2-3 times a day from Balloch to Luss, adult £14 single, £20 return. The schedule allows you a couple of hours ashore in Luss.

Taxi: Wright Taxis serve Balloch, Alexandria and Dumbarton, tel +44 1389 721010.


  • 1 Maid of the Loch. April-Oct daily 10:00-16:30. The last paddle steamer built in Britain - twice! Launched in 1953, she was first built in Glasgow then split into sections for transport and re-assembly at the loch. (This was a common system in the 19th & early 20th C to place ships on lakes and distant rivers.) She plied the loch until 1981 but then ship and pier facilities fell into disrepair. A council-backed volunteer group restored her to re-open as a static attraction in 2000, but it has not yet been possible to sail her again. Interiors and livery have been returned to their 1950s condition, the engines are occasionally in steam, and an auxiliary motor slowly turns the paddles for effect. So the paintwork and brasses gleam but a full restoration would require an expensive and hazardous process of hoisting her out of the water and trucking her to dry-dock, which could terminate her elderly life. (The last attempt in Jan 2019 ended with an inglorious splash when the old bezom refused to be hoisted.) There's a tearoom aboard. The Maid is often booked for private functions. Donation.    
  • 2 Balloch Castle Country Park. 24 hours. A 200 acres (81 hectares) park with woodlands, open areas and walking routes, its highlights being the formal Walled Garden and Chinese Garden, and tree-framed vistas of the loch: the rhododendrons and azaleas are glorious in May / June. It's also used as venue for events such as music festivals and the annual Highland Games. It surrounds Balloch Castle, which is derelict and not open to the public. This was built in 1808/09 in Tudor Gothic style, all make-believe turrets and cod-castellations, by the Buchanan family who'd made their money from hats. They obliterated the 13th C castle of the Earls of Lennox - a few earth mounds and ditches are all that's left to see, while on the nearby island of Inchmurrin a few stumps remain of the Lennox's 14th C castle. The park passed into public ownership in 1915. Free.    


Engines of Maid of the Loch
  • Cruise the loch: Sweeney's Cruises operate a variety of boat trips year round, the shortest being the "Experience Cruise" (adult £12), a one-hour potter around the southern basin. They also operate the water buses, see "Get around". They sail from the village landing next to the railway station and Balloch Road bridge.
  • Water sports such as canoeing, kayaking and paddle-boarding: with your own kit you can start here. There are no public hire or instruction facilities in Balloch, see Loch Lomond for other options. There's a £20 fee to launch a motorboat from the Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway (foot of Pier Rd just beyond Loch Lomond Shores shopping centre) and you must register it - and any kind of powered craft such as jetski - in advance with the Park.
  • Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre, Ben Lomond Way, Balloch G83 8QL (next to Loch Lomond Shores shopping centre). Feb-Apr & Oct daily 09:30-16:30, May-Sept daily 10:00-17:30, Nov-Jan Sa Su 10:00-16:00. Friendly informative avian centre, home to a variety of hawks, eagles, falcons and owls. No dogs allowed. Adult £8, child £4.
  • Sea Life Loch Lomond Aquarium, Drumkinnon Rd, Balloch G83 8QL (behind Loch Lomond Shores shopping centre), +44 871 423 2110. Daily Mar-Oct 10:00-17:00, Nov-Feb 10:00-16:00. Good range of fresh- and seawater habitats including a tropical ocean walk-through tunnel. But it's small compared to other Sea Life centres and two hours will be plenty. Adult £10, cheaper online.
  • Golf: Cameron House Golf Club is by that hotel. Vale of Leven GC is south in Alexandria, white tees 5278, par 67, visitor round £27.
  • Loch Lomond Highland Games are held at Moss o Balloch Park, west bank of the river. They're on the second Saturday in July, with the next on Sa 15 July 2023. Luss Highland Games are held on the first Saturday in July.
  • Loch Lomond Food & Drink Festival: the main event is in September, with the next on 2-3 Sept 2023 in Loch Lomond Shores shopping centre. There's also a smaller Springfest.


Lomond Galleries
  • 1 Loch Lomond Shores. Shops daily 10:00–18:00. Shopping mall. Retailers are House of Fraser, Pavers, Hawkshead, Thorntons, Loch Lomond Jewellers, Loch Lomond News, Ponden Home, Edinburgh Woolen Mill, Leading Labels, Grape Tree and Dare 2B; plus several eating places. The Farmers Market and craft fair is held just outside on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month 10:00-16:00.
  • 2 Lomond Galleries, Main Street, Alexandria G83 0UG. Small shopping centre with a slightly tired selection of discount shops, but in an interesting building, the former Argyll Motor Works. This ornate sandstone factory was built in 1906 as the largest car factory in Europe at the time, but the company declined soon after the factory opened. It then became a torpedo factory, followed by an electronics factory, then was empty for a long period before the shopping centre opened in 1997.



  • Corries, 50 Balloch Road, +44 1389 298824. Th-Tu 09:00-18:00. A large menu and friendly staff. Live music Thursday nights.
  • Palombos of Balloch, 40 Balloch Road, Balloch G83 8LE. Daily 11:30-19:00. A sit-in fish restaurant, or you can carry out to the park. Also does B&B, doubles from £45.
  • Loch Lomond Shores shopping centre has Café Zest, Queen of the Loch Hotel & Restaurant for pub food and Café at the Shores for cakes and sandwiches.


Loch Lomond Highland Games
  • Balloch House within Innkeeper's Lodge (see Sleep) is a gastropub open Tu-Sa 07:00-23:00, Su M 08:00-22:30
  • The Tullie Inn, Balloch Road, G83 8SW (next to railway station), +44 1389 752052. M-Th 07:00-23:00, F Sa 08:00-01:00, Su 08:00-23:00. Mock Tudorbethan pub with varied menu and large portions. Also does B&B.
  • 1 The Stables, Carrochan Road, Jamestown G83 8BQ (On A803, 200 yards south of jcn A811), +44 1389 752148, . Daily 12:00-21:00. Under new management since autumn 2019, has a large menu with good food.
  • Cucina, Balloch Road, Balloch G83 8SS, +44 1389 755455. Su-Th 12:00-20:45, F Sa 12:00-21:45. Good fresh Italian food with GF options.
  • The Princess Rose, Old Luss Road, Balloch G83 8QW, +44 1389 755873. M-F 12:00-14:00, 16:30-22:00, Sa 12:00-00:00, Su 16:30-22:00. Good Cantonese food, watch out for parking traps.
  • Bombay Jock's (formerly Golden Star), 100 Balloch Road, Balloch G83 8SR, +44 1389 721077. Daily 16:30-00:00. Indian food, gets mostly good reviews but has an occasional bad spell. Does carry-out of course.


  • Cameron House has two restaurants, see below.


  • Along Balloch / Drymen Rd are Tullie Inn and Balloch House (see Eat) and The Dog House, open Su-Th 11:00-00:00, F Sa 11:00-01:00.
  • Scotch whisky is distilled and blended all along the Vale of Leven but there are no distilleries open to visit.
  • Loch Lomond Brewery is also in the Vale, no tours.


Balloch Castle
The main accommodation strip is along the historic high street, Balloch Rd becoming Drymen Rd as it crosses the river. Plus there's a couple along the modern road A811 just south.
  • 1 Innkeeper's Lodge (Balloch House), Balloch Road, Balloch G83 8LQ, +44 1389 752579. Simple hotel above 18th C pub on banks of River Leven as it flows out of the loch. B&B double £100.
  • Norwood Guest House, 60 Balloch Road, Balloch G83 8LE, +44 1389 750309, . Small friendly B&B. B&B double £55.
  • Gowanlea Guest House, Drymen Road, Balloch G83 8HS, +44 1389 752456, . Friendly comfy guesthouse with 2 doubles en suite, 2 family en suite (sleeps 3 or 4), 1 twin with private bathroom. Walkers, cyclists & dogs all welcome. B&B double £50.
  • 2 Sheildaig Farm B&B, Upper Stoneymollan Road, Balloch G83 8QY (lane from A82 / A811 roundabout), +44 1389 752459, . Farmhouse up rough track with rooms in main steading and attached buildings. Walkers, cyclists and dogs welcome. B&B double £100.
  • 3 Lomond Woods Holiday Park, Old Luss Road G83 8QP, +44 1250 878 123, . Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 10:00. Open all year, well-run site for caravans and RVs. No tents but has camping pods, sleep 4 or 6. Pods £50, tourer & RV pitches £25.
  • 4 Cameron House, Alexandria G83 8QZ (On A82 two miles north of Balloch), +44 1389 312210. Scottish baronial mansion on the banks of Loch Lomond with two restaurants: the Boat House (daily 10:00-22:00) on the marina does seafood and pizza, and Clubhouse at Cameron (daily 08:00-21:00) does Scots classics. There's also an 18-hole championship golf course, leisure club and spa. The hotel suffered a fire in 2017 but was fully refurbished by 2022. B&B double £280.


Balloch, Alexandria and their approach roads have 4G from all UK carriers. As of Aug 2022, you might get 5G from Vodafone.

Go nextEdit

  • East through Drymen to access the east shore of Loch Lomond. Stay on the main road to reach historic Stirling.
  • North along A82 to Luss and Tarbet then various routes lead to the Highlands and Islands.
  • South via Dumbarton to Glasgow for big city attractions.
Routes through Balloch
Campbeltown/CrianlarichLuss  N   SE  DumbartonGlasgow

This city travel guide to Balloch is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.