Scotland has been enjoying some fantastic autumn weather, and one weekend my family and I drove up to Loch Katrine in the district of Stirling to enjoy the beautiful views of the Trossachs. This is a perfect place to walk at a leisurely pace surrounded by stunning scenery, and if you feel like relaxing even more you can hop aboard the Steamship Sir Walter Scott for a cruise around the loch!
Half of our group opted for the boat ride, and the other half chose to walk. Being one of the walkers, I was able to get this photo of the steamship just setting off. It looked very festive with its colourful bunting, and when it met another boat on the loch (the Lady of the Lake being the other) it would set off a loud horn as if to say, “Coming through! Make way for Sir Walter Scott!” This Victorian steamship has been cruising the loch for over 100 years, with regular tours running four times a day from late May to late October. The Lady of the Lake is a smaller, newer boat, and it does three tours a day during the same period.
The path for walkers is wide and flat initially, curving round the side of the loch with stunning views over the water. When the weather is good, the path is hugely popular with dog walkers and cyclists. You can even hire bikes there, so no need to bring your own! I think it’s possible to walk or cycle right round the entire loch, but I must admit I’ve never done it. After a while the path moves away from the water and gets quite hilly!
Loch Katrine is the main source of drinking water for the city of Glasgow and surrounding areas. Two 26-mile-long aqueducts and 13 miles of tunnel channel the water to a treatment plant in Milngavie just north of Glasgow. Because Milngavie is 400 metres above sea level it provides enough pressure to supply all of Glasgow’s water without pumping.
This system of water provision was designed and built by Civil Engineer John Frederick Bateman, and the first aqueduct was opened by Queen Victoria in 1859. The second one was completed in 1901, and in 1958 another tunnel was completed under Ben A’an bringing water from the Glen Finglas Reservoir. The waterfall above is Glen Finglas water channeling down into Loch Katrine.
This plaque stands near the waterfall and commemorates the opening of the tunnel and the people who made it possible. Since the tunnel had been dug underneath a mountain, this was quite an achievement! HRH Princess Margaret performed the official opening.
As my daughter and I walked around the sparkling loch we saw the steamship catching up and passing us. It was going at a surprising speed! It circled the whole loch in about an hour, and when we saw it heading back to dock we knew we had to rush back to meet it.
I couldn’t resist taking a few more photos of the amazing views as we retraced our steps. As you can see, we couldn’t have had better weather! There are only a few more days in October to take a ride on the steamship Sir Walter Scott as its last sailing is on the 20th. I’m sure over the next few weeks Loch Katrine will become even more beautiful as the trees turn gold in the autumn chill. I’ll have to go back again soon!