Walk: Stronachlachar, Loch Katrine, Stirlingshire

Sheltered among deep-green forest and the peaks of the Highlands is The Pier Café – the perfect waterside retreat for coffee and cake after a ramble through the hills

Loch Katrine, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park

Some will reach The Pier Café in the tiny settlement of Stronachlachar by driving the winding single-track road from Aberfoyle. But why not get there via a gorgeous voyage across Loch Katrine instead, on board the steamship Sir Walter Scott?

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On arrival at The Pier Café, a warm welcome and the aroma of delicious, locally sourced food is guaranteed. Just reading the menu gets the stomach rumbling; how does a full Scottish breakfast, a bowl of Cullen skink, a goat’s cheese tartlet or a slice of cake sound? It’s the perfect place to refuel after exploring the spectacular landscape above Loch Katrine – a combination of moorland paths and scenic roads. Afterwards, head to Glengyle, the birthplace (1671) of Scottish folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor.

The Pier Cafe, Loch Katrine, Stronachlachar, Scotland
The Pier Cafe, Loch Katrine, Stronachlachar, Scotland ©Alamy

West of the water

From the café, follow the access road west for 400m. Pass a gated track on the left and then turn left on to a private road.

Amazing aqueduct

The road runs south-east above the water. After 500m, cross the outlet of the Katrine Aqueduct. This incredible feat of 19th-century engineering – wholly driven by gravity – has been used to transfer pristine drinking water from Loch Katrine and Loch Arklet to the city of Glasgow since its construction more than 150 years ago. 

The road provides easy walking for 2km, after which it reaches a waymarked footpath on the right. It’s worthwhile continuing on for 100m to Royal Cottage, built to accommodate Queen Victoria when she opened the waterworks in October 1859. 

High views

Walk back to the footpath, turn left and climb steadily south-west above the trees for a wonderful view across Loch Katrine. Continue over moorland, passing a ventilation shaft, a legacy of the aqueduct’s construction. Turn right at the next shaft, following a narrow path to the route’s highest point. This spot presents a superb view of Ben Lomond and Ben Lui’s magnificent profiles.

Loch Katrine, Scotland
Loch Katrine, Scotland ©Getty

Forest ways

Return to the main path and continue right of the next shaft. Soon, a track descends through a gate and in due course steepens, culminating at a forestry track. Turn right, walk north-west for 450m then take a path on the right, just before the B829.

Back to the pier

A wonderful path continues across moorland bestowing a breathtaking view of Loch Arklet and the Arrochar Alps.

The track eventually reaches the B829. Go right and follow the verge for nearly 500m to a junction. Turn right again and walk back to the hamlet of Stronachlachar for a well-deserved rest.

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Map

Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route.

The Pier Cafe, Loch Katrine, Stronachlachar, Scotland