Loch Katrine, in the heart of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, has been popular with Glaswegians as a destination for a day out since the mid-19th century.
Stretching for eight miles along Strath Gartney, it is surrounded by woodlands and hills and dotted with small islands. Its name comes from the Gaelic word ‘cateran’, meaning cattle thief or robber.
The level of the loch was raised by 6 feet (2 m) during the construction of a scheme to supply Glasgow with much-needed drinking water. No fewer than 25 aqueducts, each one an engineering marvel, and 13 miles (21 km) of tunnels linked the loch to water treatment works at Milngavie, on the northern outskirts of Glasgow. The scheme was opened by Queen Victoria in October 1859. The Gothic-style cottage and jetty within sight of today’s pier were built at the queen’s request and for her exclusive use, however, they were never used as a 21-gun welcome salute, shattered all the windows!
Two works by the famous Scottish author Sir Walter Scott featured the loch: ‘Lady of the Lake’ and ‘Rob Roy’. For more than a century, the steamship Sir Walter Scott has carried countless numbers of visitors on cruises around the loch. It was built at Dumbarton on the River Clyde, and then dismantled and carried in sections to the lochside by horse and cart. Once reassembled it was launched in 1900. The original triple expansion steam engine was fired by coal until 2007. Then, to protect the natural environment of the loch and the quality of its water, the engine was converted to biofuel.
The area is idea for cycling, walking in the hills or more gently at lower levels. Bikes may be hired at the Trossachs Pier where there is also a restaurant and gift shop.