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During the last ice age the glaciers pushing in from the west south of the Menteith hills scraped out a hollow and pushed the 'scrapings' into a series of mounds further east. When the glaciers finally retreated the depression left where the material had been scraped out became flooded and the mounds to the east prevented the water from escaping. This flooded hollow now forms the Lake of Menteith. The Lake of Menteith and associated ridges are an excellent example of a glacial landform known as a ‘hill-hole pair’.
The Lake was originally named the 'Loch of Inchmaholm' but a Dutch cartographer misread the old Scots word 'Laich' as 'lake' and to this day the 'Lake of Monteith' remains as a reminder to get your eyes tested!
The Lake is around 1.5 miles east to west and 3/4 mile north to south. It lies to the south of the Menteith hills about 5 miles southwest of Callander on the road between Doune and Aberfoyle.
The Lake of Menteith is stocked with rainbow trout and is the home of the Lake fishery which is renown as the venu for international fishing competitions.
In January 2010 the lake was frozen sufficiently to allow the return of 'the roarin' game' (curling) for the first time in many years.
Port of Menteith
At the east end of the Lake of Menteith is the small hamlet of Port of Menteith. At the heart of the hamlet near the lake is the old parish church, built in 1878 to designs by John Honeyman on a site of earlier churches with medieval connections. The church has a simple rectangular plan, Gothic style, with square tower containing carillon of eight bells. A popular hotel and restaurant - the Lake Hotel - stands next to the lake close to the old church. A ferry trip from the pier near the church takes you to the island named Inchmaholm where you may visit the remains of a 13th century priory where once Mary Queen of Scots was hidden.
East of The Lake of Menteith is the remains of what was once an enormous peat moss - 'Flanders Moss'. This is all that now remains of a bogland which once stretched almost from Stirling to Aberfoyle. This land was owned by Lord Kames who advertised for tenants and offered each a lease of eight acres for thirty-eight years. They were to be provided with timber to build a house and enough oatmeal to sustain them for a year. They would pay no rent for seven years and after nine years they would pay 12s for each cleared acre and 2/6d for each acre of moss. This was quite a bargain when the best farmland at this time had a rent of 30s. In 1768, the first tenant was settled on the Low Moss, nearest to Blair Drummond, and by 1774 another eleven were established. The moss here was only three feet thick, and the new settlers quickly stripped this off.. Within a year, the first crops had been produced, and when Lord Kames died in 1783, aged 86, some twenty-nine tenants were living on 400 acres of cleared moss.
The small remainder of the Moss is now a nature reserve with visible archaeological remains as a reminder of the 'Moss Lairds'. A raised timber walkway has been formed to guide the visitor past the various places of interest on the moss. The following description is extracted from the Flanders Moss guide pamphlet
Bogs are bleak and lifeless? Think again! A closer look at Flanders Moss reveals a place of colour and life. From spring and through the summer, seas of sparkling bog cotton flutter in the breeze, set off by vivid moss greens. Heathers flush purple in late summer. Sphagnum grows in a variety of reds, oranges and greens, which seem to glow in autumn sunshine and last well into the winter.
Look out for the shiny green tiger beetle hunting at your feet. And whenever you visit, you are likely to see the footprints g of deer (who like to use our paths!).
You'll also find some unique life here. The bog is home to some rare mosses, butterflies, and moths - such as the striking monochromatic argent and sable moth. When they're nesting around the Lake of Menteith, ospreys I can sometimes be seen flying overhead.