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by Cindy Grant
June 26, 2011
From journal The Scotland Ghostour
Ayr, Scotland, United Kingdom
September 9, 2003
Around 300 million years ago, the present-day continents were all joined in the super-continent called "Pangaea." Tensions in the earth's crust tore it apart. Over millions of years, three separate pieces (terrains) of the earth’s crust have come together at the Highland Fault Line to form Scotland. The Fault Line passes through Loch Lomond, following the line of the islands of Inchcailloch, Torrinch, Creinch, and Inchmurrin.
The Dalradian to the north of the Fault began life as sand and mud on a sea floor. As the continents moved closer together, the sands disappeared kilometres beneath the earth’s surface. Extreme pressure and temperature "cooked" them into hard schists and slates (metamorphic rocks). Eventually, the pressures folded and squeezed them upwards, resulting in a mountain range that was once as
high as the Himalayas. The Caledonian mountains of Scotland are a remnant. Other
remnants exist in present-day Norway, Greenland, and the Appalachians in the
South of the Fault lies a different terrain. Comprised of sedimentary rocks -
sand and coal measures - it formed around rivers in Pangaea. The Midland Valley rocks form a belt across central Scotland, interspersed with volcanic intrusions (igneous rocks), like the Kilpatrick Hills and the Campsie Fells to the south and east of Loch Lomond.
Between the Dalradian and the Midland Valley is a third terrain - the Highland Border Complex, a composite of rock types formed in a marine environment millions of years ago.
Millions of years of erosion and glacial action have left rugged landscapes split by narrow glens and moraines, as around Tyndrum, Glen Dochart, Glen Artney, and Glen Turret. The mountain glens contain fast-flowing rivers, waterfalls, and many large fresh and sea lochs.
Parts of the mountains still support Arctic-alpine plants and remnant sub-Arctic willow scrub. The area’s scenic beauty, and its support of a rich natural heritage of plants and animals, has led to the creation of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Scotland’s first national park.
The park straddles the kingdoms of three ancient Celtic peoples: Scots, Picts, and Britons, each with their own histories. The romantic beauty of the area has inspired poets and authors. Sir Walter Scott set his stories Rob Roy and "Lady of the Lake" in the Trossachs. Loch Lomond is famous in song – "By yon bonnie banks and beyond bonnie braes."
The area has scattered settlements, communication routes such as road and rail, and patchworks of enclosed farmland as well as large areas of forests and woodlands.
Local communities are largely dependent on the natural heritage, through estate management, farming, forestry, tourism, or recreation provision.
The area is less than an hour north of Glasgow and little more from Edinburgh. A long-distance footpath, the "West Highland Way," goes through it and it has many cycle tracks and is popular for water sports. The influx of tourists and visitors contributes significantly to the local economy
but also imposes pressures on the natural heritage.
From journal Loch Lomond & the Trossacks National Park
"The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond"
sits in the centre of Loch Lomond and the Trossacks National Park. Stretching
from its gentle southern end at Balloch to Ardlui to the northwest, the water
stretches 21 miles. During the ice ages, glaciers gouged out the loch basin from
Made famous both in song and verse, Loch Lomond exudes beauty and tranquillity and offers picture-postcard views around every corner.
The southern end is the widest and contains most, though by no all, of the visitor attractions. In its waters lie some 38 islands. These boast castles, burial grounds, and ancient crannogs, as well some modern homes. There is even a hotel on Inchmurrin Island. A string of these islands mark the Highland Boundary Fault’s passage across the loch. To the south of these, the loch displays the physical characteristics of Lowland Scotland, and to the north, those of Highland Scotland.
The "Lomond Shores" shopping mall and information centre graces the loch side
at Balloch, with its ramparts and extensive car parks dominating the shoreline. On payment of an entry fee of £5.95, it offers spectacular viewing platforms over the loch and under the loch and explores the legends associated with it. It is Scotland’s sixth most popular attraction.
A major road runs up the west side of the loch, but the best views can be had by following the West Highland Way footpath up the east side. It is, however, daunting towards its top end and is not an easy undertaking.
For many years, people wanting to enjoy the area from the water have used the Loch. The first commercial pleasure boat steamed into service in 1827. The first regatta to take place was in 1827. Since then, there has been a steady increase in the numbers and craft using the Loch for pleasure sport and
recreation. A survey has suggested that on a popular holiday weekend, there can be as many as 800 boats on the Loch at any one time.
With intense use, conflict between different needs necessitated the making of rules. By-laws
brought into force in 1996 improved safety and ensured a balanced and fair use of the Loch. The high speeds possible with modern craft have, however, resulted in accidents.
Management is important to protect the 200 species of birds and the over 25% of Britain's wild plants which live the area. The Park Authority has a Countryside Ranger Service, which offers support to visitors and local
communities. They spend as much time as possible out and about. A boat staffed
by the Ranger Services works to helps ensure that all people handling watercraft
behave in a responsible manner. Registering of craft to use the loch is free. It can be done at Balloch, Balmaha, and Ardlui. Unfortunately, the din kicked up by jet-skis often kills the tranquillity of the loch, and tighter regulations of the use of the loch would be beneficial.