The Bonnie Banks as you've never seen them before: by water bus

A WATER bus has been introduced to one of the country's top beauty spots.

Visitors to Loch Lomond will be able to reach 12 destinations by boat on the daily scheduled service.

After running a successful pilot last year, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority hope the water-based public transport will increase tourism and reduce congestion on the roads.

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Gordon Watson, national park director of planning and rural development, said: "It is a great way of getting more people visiting different destinations which will benefit local tourism businesses around the loch.

"Whether you want to visit Rob Roy's Cave and the stunning waterfall at Inversnaid, cycle along the west Loch Lomond cycle path, walk a section of the West Highland Way or simply take in the views of the Loch from Luss, I would encourage visitors to experience the loch from a new perspective and explore what the National Park has to offer.

"This is the first time we have had a full network of scheduled services for visitors to come and travel around all the different beautiful places on the loch.

"They can come and enjoy the loch and don't have to drive around it or park. This connects up every community in Loch Lomond-side."

Mike Cantlay, chairman of tourism body Visit Scotland, said: "There is a great tradition of people travelling from towns and cities to the water, and Loch Lomond offers the people of Scotland and the world a fantastic experience taking in some of the greatest scenery we have to offer.

"We need to capitalise on the natural assets we have in Scotland and what better way to welcome people to one of the most iconic attractions than by water."

A six-week trial of the service last summer attracted more than 5,000 passengers, paving the way for a permanent water bus.

The idea has been compared to the vaporetto in Venice and New York's Staten Island Ferry.

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Stuart Cordner from Cruise Loch Lomond, which has been running a limited scheduled service since April, said the new service had been proving very popular with visitors.

He said: "It gives people accessibility to some of the more remote spots on the loch," he added.

"It gives them the opportunity to perhaps take a bike across to the eastern shore, and allows walkers the opportunity to walk some of the more remote parts of the West Highland Way."

The daily routes are Balloch to Balmaha Cameron House and Balloch Country Park; Rowardennan to Luss; Tarbet to Inversnaid and Rowardennan; and Luss to Inchcailloch and Balmaha.

The timetable has been designed to connect with trains and bus services in the area.

The routes, which range from 15-minute to one-hour sailings, began running on Monday.