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  • Writer's pictureVien R. Guenther

Loch Katrine & Balloch Castle Country Park - Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Scotland

Loch Katrine, an almost nine-mile fresh water loch is located in the heart of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. It is one of the largest lochs in the Trossachs, first created by glaciers and then developed to provide fresh water to the city of Glasgow. The completed water project which started in 1855 was opened by Queen Victoria herself during her visit to the loch in October of 1859.

Loch Katrine
The 118 year-old classic Steamship SS Sir Walter Scott
Cruising the Loch

Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish novelist, poet and historian, popularized the loch in his works including the “The Lady of the Lake”, a narrative poem inspired by Loch Katrine. The loch was also linked to Rob Roy MacGregor, a “Scottish Robin Hood” turned legend, born on the northern shore of Loch Katrine. His life was popularized in a fictional novel by Sir Walter Scott.

There are two cruise ships that you can take - the MV Lady of the Lake and the famous 118 year-old classic Steamship SS Sir Walter Scott.

The steamship's engine

The SS Sir Walter Scott was commissioned in 1899 and is the only steamship operating on the loch today. It still uses its original engine which you can view through an opening in the deck. My husband, Hermann, was so fascinated by it that he kept going back and forth between looking at the landscape and the engine room. If they would allow people to go down into the engine room, he would be down there in seconds I’m sure.

It was an enjoyable and relaxing ride even though a bit chilly. The landscape was so beautiful we didn’t want to stay inside for protection from the wind. The cruise takes about one hour, just enough to relax, enjoy the view and have a drink from the bar.

Hermann enjoying the cruise and the view


Before leaving Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, it's worth checking out the Balloch Castle Country Park, on the "Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond", which became part of the National Park in 2002. We visited this park on our way to Cairndow, mainly to see the castle. This park hosts the Loch Lomond Highland Games every July and even hosted several major music events.

Loch Lomond
Balloch Castle
A path down to Loch Lomond

The Balloch castle is closed to the public and is showing a little neglect, but the setting is quite nice. The surrounding park is well maintained and quite serene, an ideal place to have some quiet time while enjoying the view of Loch Lomond, or walking and exploring the estate gardens. Unfortunately, the rainy and chilly weather prevented us from doing that, so we just took a few pictures of the castle and the view and drove to our next destination.

Overlooking Loch Lomond

Balloch Castle was built in 1808 from the stones of the nearby ruined castle dating from 1238. Like the old castle, the present castle changed ownership until Dumbarton District Council leased the estate in 1975.

The estate was officially designated as a Country Park in 1981 and the castle was used for the offices of the Dumbarton District Council Countryside Ranger Service. It is also the headquarters of the local division of the Nature Conservancy Council. The estate is included on the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland.

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