Historic steamship Sir Walter Scott launches first full Loch Katrine season for five years

Vessel will sail three times a day between Trossachs Pier and Stronachlachar

Historic steamship Sir Walter Scott will launch its first complete season on Loch Katrine for five years on Saturday following a major restoration project.

The 124-year-old vessel will operate three sailings a day on the Trossachs loch made famous by the 19th century author.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It returned to service in the middle of last summer after a three-year absence during work to replace cracked boilers, install new decking and complete significant hull repairs.

Steamship Sir Walter Scott from the Rhoderick Dhu watch tower. (Photo by Paul Saunders Photography)Steamship Sir Walter Scott from the Rhoderick Dhu watch tower. (Photo by Paul Saunders Photography)
Steamship Sir Walter Scott from the Rhoderick Dhu watch tower. (Photo by Paul Saunders Photography)

Two-hour sailings will run twice a day between Trossachs Pier at the east end of the loch and Stronachlachar, near the west end, at 10.30am and 2.30pm, with a one-hour circular cruise from Trossachs Pier at 1pm.

The Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust will also operate seven 45-minute circular cruises a day using its smaller vessel Lady of the Lake, which is named after Scott's poem.

The trust said it was credited with being responsible for the birth of Scottish tourism when it was published in 1810 by triggering a tourist influx to the Trossachs.

Chief executive James Fraser said 2024 would be a “landmark” year for the steamship. He said: ‘'For the first time in a long time, we have the historic steamship back for an entire season.

"There was a great response from the public when she returned after her restoration midway through last summer, with good passenger numbers.

“Very encouragingly, advance bookings for this season from overseas and UK group tour organisers and individuals are well up on last year, so we are hopeful this will be a busy season.”

Mr Fraser said ticket sales would help bridge the shortfall between money raised by the appeal and higher-than-anticipated restoration costs, which increased from an initially estimated £500,000 to £850,000, forcing the trust to take out a “significant” bank loan to complete the work.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Funding for the project included a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The trust said this “recognised the ship’s historical importance and the very positive contribution it makes to the public enjoyment of Loch Katrine with the provision of a fully-accessible visitor experience and pier to pier transport links for cyclists and walkers”.

Mr Fraser said the trust had also spent £1 million over the past two years in improving visitor facilities, with support from VisitScotland’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

These included car park extensions, with disabled parking and camper van spaces doubled, toilet refurbishment, a new exhibition about the180-year history of steamships on Loch Katrine, and bike repair stations.

Sir Walter Scott is the loch’s fourth steamer, which was built in Dumbarton and transported in sections by barge up the River Leven and Loch Lomond to Inversnaid where teams of horses carried them to Stronachlachar to be rebuilt.

During the spring, a reinstated footpath will be opened to a new scenic tower and lookouts at Rhoderick Dhu above Trossachs Pier, which clansmen used in the 1700s to warn Clan Chief Rob Roy MacGregor of advancing Redcoats seeking his capture.

Later in the 18th century, two wicker huts were built there for writers, poets and artists.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.