Location - the Trossachs, near Callander, Scotland
Why visit Loch Katrine? because its the most must-see place on any visit to Scotland
Loch Katrine is 38 miles from Glasgow, 60 miles from Edinburgh, 128 miles from Carlisle and about 430 miles from the centre of London.
The UK National Ordnance survey Grid Ref of the east steamer pier is NN 49404 07648, and the lat/long ref is 56°14'14.7"N, 4°25'52.9"W.
Move your mouse over the UK map on the right to see a terrain map of Loch Katrine
Loch Katrine is flanked by several other lochs: Loch Arklet and Loch Lomond to the west, Loch Achray and Finglas water to the east and Loch Chon and loch Ard to the south.
Loch Katrine is about 8 miles north of the Highland boundary fault and as such is a true highland loch and completely surrounded by the spectacle of rugged mountains, some of them well over 3000 ft in height.
It is not possible to drive all the way round the loch as the road/track from Stronachlachar stops at Glasahoile. Walking the south side is not recommended as the way from Glasahoile farm to Bealach nam Bo is obstructed by a rocky outcrop which goes right to the lochside, forcing a climb to greater altitude than planned to avoid this obstacle. Several parties have needed rescue after being caught by nightfall due to the extra time needed for the divertion.
PS Rob Roy on Loch Katrine about 1908
The 100 year old SS Sir Walter Scott
Loch Katrine originally became widely known after the books 'Rob Roy' and 'Lady of the Lake' were published by Sir Walter Scott in the early 19th century. An adventure into the highlands became almost as important to wealthy families as the 'Grand Tour' (of Europe) and the Scottish mountains were no longer seen as objects of dread.
The popularity of the Trossachs in general grew in the 1850s after the railway arrived nearby at Callander. The Dreadnought Hotel in Callander ran daily coach services (horse drawn) to the pier at the east end of Loch Katrine in order for guests to take a cruise up the loch on the early steamers.
Today, Loch Katrine is still famous, but now almost totally for its leisure facilities, among which are sightseeing, photography, cycling, walking, fishing and of course taking a trip on the loch on the old steamship SS Sir Walter Scott or its younger companion 'The Lady of the Lake'.
The 100 year old steamer 'Sir Walter Scott' which operates daily excursions on the loch - a circular tour and a longer sailing to Stronachlachar at the west end of the loch where visitors can disembark for a coffee or to explore the local area - or even cycle back via the lochside road.
The 'Lady of the Lake' cruise boat additionally offers short cruises of 1 hour among the islands and shorelines where the steamship cannot venture and a round trip to Stronachlachar.
The Road to Stronachlachar
Pedal in peace on the 'almost traffic free' lochside road which takes the cyclist over a 12 mile long private road to Stronachlachar. (You can also take the long return route via Aberfoyle if you feel ultra-fit).
This route passes several places of interest including 'Brenachoil pier' seen in the film the 49 Steps, 'Ardmachmuin' - an abandoned settlement which had a school - an indication of the one-time population of the area, the McGregor burial island at Portnellan, and Glengyle House - birthplace of Rob Roy McGregor. You can also visit Royal Cottage on the south shore about 1 mile from Stronachlachar. This was built for Queen Victoria when she opened the Glasgow corporation water supply aquaduct - but she never used it!
You can also book a place for your bike on the steamer to Stronachlachar then bike it back by road.
The Dam Road
A little way up the access road from Loch Achray a narrow road marked 'no vehicles' leads off toward the Loch Katrine dam. An easy pedal up this road for about ¾ of a mile takes you to the dam which raised the water level by 6 feet for the Glasgow water supply. Cycle back down the road a little way and look on the right for a track leading to a footbridge. Cross this bridge then turn left at a forest road for an easy pedal down to the lochside via the Loch Achray Hotel grounds. At the road turn left for a ½ mile ride to the Loch Katrine access road on your left.
Optionally, after you cross the bridge and find the forest road you can turn right then left for a steeper climb up toward Ben Venue.
It's not a long way to go if you want to see the namesake of the National park - Loch Lomond. The east shore can be a bit busy but the Loch Lomond islands are best seen from here - especially if you can manage a walk up Conic Hill.
The view below Bealach nam Bo
View from Ben Venue
The Bealach nam Bo - pass of the cattle
From the Loch Katrine carpark go down the access road to find the 'Dam Road' on the right. Follow this road for ½ mile then turn left onto a track leading to a footbridge. Cross the bridge and turn right at a forest road where a walk of less than a mile takes you to Bealach nam Bo for a wonderful view of Loch Katrine and the islands. Return the same way but watch for a style on the left at some woods. Cross the style and follow the path through the woods to find the dam which carries a footpath over the river. At the road turn right and follow back to the Loch Katrine access road.
Ben A'an - the biggest little hill
Down at Loch Achray take the road to Brig o Turk for about ½ a mile to a car park on the right. Opposite the car park is the access track to Ben A'an. Ben A'an is only 1400 feet high but offers a wonderful view of Loch Katrine and the Arrochar Alps in the far west. About 1½ hours round trip for a reasonably fit walker. Strong shoes or boots recommended as an easy scramble and rocky paths are part of the fun!
Ben Venue - a bigger hill
At the Loch Achray end of the access road, a right turn onto the main road leads to a car park on the right for walkers to Ben Venue. The round trip is about 9 miles - around 4 hours. A track leads from the rear of the carpark to the dam road. Follow the dam road and take a track on the left over a bridge then at a forest road turn right. After ½ a mile or a little less, turn left to start the climb, initially through woods then onto open hillside before entering woods again. At the end of the woods a path leads over open moor then up beside a waterfall to a cairn. Turn right at the cairn for the final climb up to the 2400 foot twin summit where the view down Loch Katrine is something you will never forget. Take a map, a compass some food and drink AND suitable clothing for the weather.
The Trossachs and things to see and do
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The Trossachs - the place to be! Callander - the place to be in The Trossachs.
Callander in the Trossachs - the place to be in the Loch Lomond National Park