Helensburgh - Balloch Loop
This half-day cycle uses both the walking and cycling John Muir Way routes to create a loop connecting Helensburgh to Balloch with stunning views over Loch Lomond.
For the section that follows the walking path, a suitable mountain or gravel bike with fat tyres is essential. The descent is somewhat technical in places but for experienced off-road cyclists it’s good fun.
Starting and finishing at the John Muir Way's western terminus, explore Helensburgh’s waterfront and Colquhoun Square before ascending along quiet streets towards the famous Hill House. Follow the cycle path out of town and then turn right onto the walking route up to Gouk Hill. There’s an optional scramble to the summit beside the two ponds at the track’s highest point but be prepared to carry or push your bike.
Take care through the woods where there are some steep steps and give way to walkers on the descent to Balloch. The Maid of the Loch steamship on Loch Lomond is your turning point and the return journey follows the much easier tarmac cycle route back to Helensburgh.
This route uses a mix of quiet roads, sealed cycle path, forest track and rough singletrack footpath. It climbs from the coast to Gouk Hill so you’ll need to bring decent fitness and a good range of gears. The walking route section is not designed for bikes but can be tackled on a mountain or gravel bike, taking care on the descent and through the narrow wooded section with steps. Please always slow down and give way when encountering walkers.
BY RAIL: There are regular trains from Glasgow to Helensburgh Central and a less frequent service to Helensburgh Upper. Balloch is served by a separate line.
BY BUS: First Greater Glasgow service 1B operates between Glasgow, Balloch and Helensburgh.
BY CAR: There is free parking at the far end of Helensburgh Pier.
Helensburgh has some great eateries as well as a bike shop a stone’s throw from the route start for those last-minute supplies. In Balloch there’s a variety of shops at Loch Lomond Shores as well as boat tours on the loch. Make the time to tour the Maid of the Loch steamship and stop for a cuppa.
For a full listing of businesses and attractions on this route, view it on the Plan Your Trip page.
Points of interest
The route starts and finishes by the engraved circular stone plinth and seat at the entrance to Helensburgh Pier at the start of the West esplanade.
The Hill House
Managed by the National Trust for Scotland, the finest of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's domestic creations, The Hill House sits high above the Clyde, commanding fine views over the river estuary.Visit Website
Your reward for the almost constant climb from Helensburgh is the 277m summit of Gouk Hill. Take in the fantastic views over Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.