After two challenging years of major disruption caused by Covid-19, there is some optimism at Loch Katrine.
Locals are hopeful of a strong recovery in UK and overseas tourist markets during the season ahead – crucial for the popular destination where £1.25 million is currently being spent on visitor facility improvements.
Following recent excellent spring weather, signs of improvement are said to be evident all around the popular Trossachs loch with visitors out and about walking, cycling and taking boat trips.
At Stronachlachar, new tenants have taken over the Pier Café, whilst over £100,000 has been spent doubling the car park capacity and creating new serviced motorhome pitches that all have spectacular loch views.
The 14-mile lochside road, one of Scotland’s most popular family friendly cycling routes, has recently been extensively resurfaced by Scottish Water.
On the water, strong advanced bookings for cruises from UK and overseas coach operators have resulted in an increase in the number of scheduled daily sailings.
As James Fraser, CEO of Loch Katrine, explains, there is real momentum for Loch Katrine and the Trossachs as a whole.
“The Stronachlachar improvements follow on from work last autumn to increase the capacity of nearby Ben A’an’s car park, a project delivered by Forestry and Land Scotland which we helped facilitate with funding support from the VisitScotland Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
“I am particularly pleased with how Stronachlachar is now looking with a new woodland car park and other sympathetic landscaping improvements. This idyllic spot was hit hard by winter storms, and there has been a lot of work to get the lochside setting ready for the season.
“We are delighted to welcome Mark and Eilidh Allan, who have taken on the Pier Café which is now open for business following a makeover of the premises and the outdoor picnic area.
“It’s good to see the Trossachs on the up, helped in no small part by collaborative work to refresh the Trossachs Trail. To achieve this, we worked closely with Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and local communities, delivering updated road signs throughout the entire 40-mile route along with a new website and map and guide.”
This summer is crucial for the 122-year-old Steamship Sir Walter Scott, which has been out of action since 2020 due to cracked boilers.
Restoration work is well underway and has been helped by huge public support for the Save our Steamship appeal and boosted by the work of steamboat enthusiasts who earlier this month came from all over Europe to volunteer their expert help with the restoration effort.
The charity recently launched a final 100-day fundraising push with the aspiration to secure the last remaining funds needed to complete the restoration in time for the summer, when if successful Sir Walter Scott Steamship could once again sail on Loch Katrine.