Tom’s appendix-less state means he can’t run or cycle at the moment, but this has been quite good, as he’s been able to join me on my walks. Yesterday we popped up Conic Hill and it was a grand day for it.


Conic Hill is just a few miles from where we now live, and though Tom has run here many times in the past year, it occurred to me yesterday that the last time I climbed this hill was nine years ago when we walked the West Highland Way. Here is Tom looking down from the hill across Loch Lomond in 2005:


And here in a spot slightly further down yesterday:


A lot has changed since then, but as he says, he looks pretty much the same from behind.

I think of all the lovely views of Loch Lomond – and there are many – that this one is my favourite.


Its just something about the sense of space up here – the meeting of sky, land, and water, and perhaps especially the way that the Loch Lomond islands stretching away in the distance lend the view a pleasing and very distinctive sense of perspective.


Dorothy Wordsworth felt similarly about those islands when she saw them in 1803, though her view in this passage is the precise opposite of ours (she’s looking South and East from Inchtavannach and we are looking North and West from Conic Hill)

“We had not climbed far before we were stopped by a sudden burst of prospect, so singular and beautiful that it was like a flash of images from another world. We stood with our backs to the hill of the island, which we were ascending, and which shut out Ben Lomond entirely, and all the upper part of the lake, and we looked towards the foot of the lake, scattered over with islands without beginning and without end. The sun shone, and the distant hills were visible, some through sunny mists, others in gloom with patches of sunshine; the lake was lost under the low and distant hills, and the islands lost in the lake, which was all in motion with travelling fields of light, or dark shadows under rainy clouds. There are many hills, but no commanding eminence at a distance to confine the prospect, so that the land seemed endless as the water.”

I thought of Dorothy Wordsworth yesterday as we looked down toward Inchtavannach, and gave her a mental wave.


If you are ever in the area and fancy going up Conic Hill, I really think the views are best from this direction, and its a much nicer walk this way too. Park at Milton of Buchanan; walk up the track past Creity Hall, join the West Highland Way as it snakes up the hill; descend into Balmaha; stop for a welcome ice-cream, or pint at the Oak Tree Inn, take a look at the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, and then walk back along the road to Milton. The circuit is 7 miles with around 350m / 1100 ft of ascent.

39 thoughts on “Conic Hill

  1. Hi Kate,

    We will be on holiday in Scotland this year and I am looking forward to visit Conic Hill.
    So, many thanks from the Netherlands!


  2. Oh my goodness, my granny was born on a farm very near here, and these views mean so much to me, they remind me of my childhood and all the times we went there. Thank you for letting us see them, you have made my day. Beautiful :)


  3. What a spectacular walk and the views are so beautiful. Scotland is on my list and so it should be. My heritage from long ago – Tassie family – and that of my partner Tati who is Maori and has a Scottish great grandfather who was a McCauley. We have to start planning!!


  4. Simply “thank you”. When life throws up it’s challenges,Schotland is what calms me and brings me sanity. Your post came at just the right moment. Thank you, it did the trick!


  5. So nice that Tom was well enough to join you & Bruce for such a lovely walk. I envy you the gorgeous surroundings of your new home.


  6. We were fortunate enough a few years ago to be able to book a flight on a sea plane that left from Loch Lomond. What a great experience it was, even though I’m a ‘worried flyer’.


  7. Oh, if only I could see that with my own eyes one day!
    I’m afraid that I would want to abandon my real life, however, and find a way to stay the forever…..


  8. I agree with you about the sense of space. Several decades ago, when I was between my articles and a call to the Bar, I spent a few weeks with distant cousins (five generations apart,but still in touch!) in England. After only a few days, I had a terrible feeling of claustrophobia, which was only relieved when I arrived later in Scotland. I soon realized that my Canadian sensibilities felt far more at home north of the border, and it wasn’t simply due to the fact that Canadian culture owes a great deal to its Scottish roots. In England it had seemed to me that every aspect of the landscape had been touched by the hand of man; n Scotland I recognized the same wild landscape I realized that I loved at home. I’ve been to Loch Lomand, but unfortunately didn’t get to appreciate the view from on high. Lovely!


  9. What a gorgeous photos Kate! I’m happy to see that Tom is recovering so well.
    Coincidentally I was on Conic Hill earlier this month, and blogged about it just now. Though the weather was a little less sunny the view was still amazing. We climbed up the hill form the other side though, as it was better accessible by train and bus. I will remember it for the next time I’m in the area!


  10. Lovely photos and words! (You and Dorothy Wordsworth both, of course.) It’s good to see that Tom is out and about, and I always love your photos with Bruce in them…oh, and finally I love that you balance the lyricism with practical instructions!


  11. Thank you for sharing. Grand news that Tom is recovering nicely and was able to hike with you and enjoy. Makes me want to return to Loch Lomond again. Hope that Nessie was there to greet you! Your dog is simply beautiful.


  12. Oh I would love to visit and take this walk. I have friends from Scotland and every year on New Years’, they jump into Loch Lomond! And the color of the paint on my bedroom walls is called “Loch Lomond.” So one day, I’ll be there! What a nice blog and beautiful pictures. I am so happy you had a wonderful time out and about.


    1. So beautiful! Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos with us. And the great quote.
      Also, Tom looks very different without his appendix, even from the back(!)
      All the best,Peggy


  13. How beautiful! Thanks for the pictures, Dorothy Wordsworth description and directions(!) should I ever travel to Scotland again. I felt transported there reading your post. Thank you :-)


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