Wildlife and Nature
Wildlife at Ballat Smithy Cottage
When you stay at Ballat Smithy Cottage near Loch Lomond, you’re immersed in wildlife. Our garden and surroundings are alive with activity. Almost 40 different species of birds have been spotted over the years. From the comfort of the cottage, guests can enjoy watching the action around the bird feeders, where among the regular visitors are special highlights such as tree sparrow, nuthatch, goldfinch, greenfinch and great spotted woodpecker. Occasionally a sparrowhawk will flash past the window! Evening can be a very atmospheric time at the cottage. Spending time outside at dusk, you may spot our resident bats, or if you’re very lucky, a barn owl. Or, when the sun has gone and the wind drops, the silence may be broken by the sounds of owls hooting, foxes barking, or, in the autumn, the unforgettable roaring of red deer stags.
Distance from the cottage: 5 miles
A few minutes’ drive away from Ballat Smithy Cottage, there are two particularly enjoyable walks in the Garadhban Forest. Here in spring you will regularly hear the call of the cuckoo and see many of our upland birds such as stonechat, wheatear and meadow pipit. Ravens are also resident here and occasionally you may spot an osprey flying over. Depending on the time of year, these walks are also memorable for the great variety of wild flowers and butterflies. Occasionally, you may be lucky enough to see frogs or newts, a lizard, adder or slow worm. There are also foxes, red deer, pine martens and red squirrels here, although they are very elusive and you’re more likely to see signs of their presence than the animals themselves.
Distance from the cottage: 8 miles
Loch Lomond and its oakwoods are a magnificent spectacle. Especially in spring when the bluebells are out, and in autumn as the leaves change colour. A lovely way to experience this is to follow the West Highland Way along the loch shore from Balmaha to Milarrochy Bay and back. Or park at Milarrochy Bay itself and explore. The small beaches and marshy places at the lochside are enchanting and very rewarding for botanists.
Distance from the cottage: 7 miles
Inchcailloch Island is a memorable place to visit, with the added bonus of time on the water, as the ferry takes you across. This is one of Loch Lomond’s many small islands and its name means “Isle of the old woman”. There are three main walking routes on the island, which take in its wide variety of habitats for wildlife. From the gentle Central and Low paths, to the more challenging Summit Path.
To catch the ferry to Inchcailloch Island, head to Balmaha Boatyard. The ferry runs every day during summer months, usually every half hour throughout the day. Ferry fares and times.
Distance from the cottage: 6 miles
Lemahamish forest is nestled between Gartmore and Aberfoyle. This wildlife haven is home to the rare red squirrel and magnificent sparrowhawk. In spring, the floor is carpeted with a sea of bluebells. And in autumn, you’ll find an array of fungi. Here, the Easter Park walking trail takes you along the banks of the River Forth and through native oak woods.
The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre
Distance from the cottage: 8 miles
This fantastic visitor centre at the gateway to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park has lots of information to help you explore many of our local forests. There is a café and facilities, Go Ape treetop adventure centre and many scenic walking trails. Including the beautiful Waterfall Trail and the challenging Lime Craig Trail. The Red Squirrel Hide gets you up close to these charming little creatures, and there are bird feeders to attract a variety of birdlife. There’s also a Wildlife Room, with live video feeds showing nearby birds and squirrels, and recorded footage of birds of prey.
Things to do around Loch Lomond
Discover Loch Lomond with our local guides
Looking for more things to do around Loch Lomond during your stay at Ballat Smithy Cottage? Then check out our Loch Lomond guides to walking, cycling, family activities, history and heritage, food and drink and more! And if you need any help planning your trip, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.Book Now
Watch Our Video Below
And See Ballat Smithy Cottage
Watch our video below and see our gorgeous cottage for yourself. Plus, get a taster of some of the wonderful attractions and activities nearby, including Loch Lomond. We are sure you will love all we have to offer so get booking today and enjoy a relaxing stay with us here at Ballat Smithy Cottage.Book Now