Scenic tower and lookouts to be built at Loch Katrine viewpoint that inspired Sir Walter Scott
Building consent has been granted for a new scenic tower and lookouts at the historic site known as "the birthplace of Scottish tourism".
Construction will now begin at the iconic Roderick Dhu viewpoint overlooking Loch Katrine in the Trossachs, where Sir Walter Scott was inspired to write his 1810 blockbuster poem The Lady of the Lake.
The poem sparked a "gold rush" of tourism, but the viewpoint, on the headland overlooking Trossachs Pier, has been closed to the public for over 30 years. The site has been inaccessible since the 1980s after the pathway used by Scott and other famous writers to access it fell into disrepair and was closed.
The 188m route has now been reinstated as part of a wider project to reopen the site, which is said to offer one of the finest vistas in the country.
It includes a £350,000 three-storey lookout tower with two panoramic viewpoints and linking boardwalks to protect the surrounding sensitive environment.
The building warrant means work is now expected to be completed in time for the new hand-finished stone pathway together with the tower and lookouts to open at the end of May.
The Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust, the charity that operates the leisure/heritage assets at Loch Katrine, is being supported in the project by the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.
James Fraser, chief executive and trustee of the Steamship Trust, said: "We’re excited that the exact spot where the story of Scottish tourism began will be celebrated with a dramatic new tower and lookouts.
"This coincides with the return of the historic Steamship Sir Walter Scott for her first full season following a £850,000 restoration programme and other visitor infrastructure improvements at Loch Katrine.
"Visitors will be able to enjoy the impressive views and discover more about the rich cultural and natural heritage of Loch Katrine."
The viewpoint is known as the Roderick Dhu Watchtower after a clan chief who also features in Scott's epic narrative poem. An ally of the outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor, Roderick is said to have used it as a lookout for approaching redcoats.
A road was blasted out of the rock in the 1790s so that horses and carriages could access the site, and landowner Lady Drummond of Perth built wicker huts for writers, poets and artists to stay and be inspired by the views.
Tourism took off following the publication of Scott's poem, which sold over 25,000 copies within six months of its publication in 1810. In the poem, Scott wrote of Loch Katrine: "So wondrous wild the whole might seem the scenery of a fairy dream".
English poet John Keats visited in 1818, while Queen Victoria visited in 1859, the same year as French Around the World in 80 Days author Jules Verne, who set his 1877 novel The Underground City at Loch Katrine.
By then, steamships had been introduced to ferry the rapidly growing numbers of tourists around the loch's islands.
The Trossachs Pier visitor hub now draws over 250,000 people from around the world each year, many of whom take steam cruises on the historic Steamship Sir Walter Scott.
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