IF you’ve taken a stroll round Balloch, past Dumbarton Rock or through the National Park recently, perhaps your eye has been caught by something colourful on the path or under a nearby tree – a smooth pebble painted like a cartoon character or a rainbow rock with a hidden message.

They did not get there by accident, nor were they intended to be ignored – the stand-out stones are the work of a group of local people who are taking part in a growing trend.

Painting pebbles is a fun way of involving the community in a creative game which can be played by people of all ages.

The idea involves painting pebbles or stones and hiding them in a public place for others to find and either keep, or hide again.

Involving minimal time and effort, the trend is simply intended to brighten someone’s day or bring a smile to a stranger’s face.

And now residents of Dumbarton and the Vale have joined the craze all thanks to Caroline Jennings from Renton, who came across a “lovely wee rock” in Stirling which was painted as a ladybird.

“It instantly brought a smile to my face,” she said. “I looked up their Facebook page and saw how much fun everyone was having and just had to do something locally.

“I bought some stones, paint and varnish and started from there.”

Caroline also created a Facebook page called Balloch and Loch Lomond Rocks for people to share pictures of any stones they have found around the area.

And, since it was created in August, the group has attracted more than 800 members who are all enjoying getting involved.

One rock has even made it to the top of Ben Nevis and others have been taken abroad.

“The best part is getting the kids involved,” Caroline went on. “I didn’t think they would be that interested but my two nieces, Ellie and Lucy, and my nephews, Craig and Kalvyn, love it.”

The former photography student is keen to get others painting rocks but wants to remind locals that taking rocks from the land and sea bed is illegal so she urges anyone who wants to paint their own to purchase the stone from a shop.

She added: “There are plenty of shops that sell stones and rocks, along with everything else you may need, like paints, brushes, pens and even perhaps enamel, just to keep those works of art looking fresh for longer.

“Please take a picture of the rock you find to let the creator see their rocks and your happy faces.

“Let’s see how far across the world they may travel.”