In 2002, the area around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs became Scotland’s first national park. The park covers a huge area, some 720 square miles, but the smallest section is conceivably the most beautiful and is the perfect spot to spend time with a loved one.
Today, the term the Trossachs refers to the beautiful glens, lovely lochs and higher hills east of Ben Lomond, but historically it was a small, wooded glen that occupied the area in and around Loch Katrine. But this was before the legendary Sir Walter Scott published the poem Lady of the Lake in 1810, after he had holidayed in the Trossachs.
The poem centres around three main plots, the core being the contest among three men, Roderick Dhu, James Fitz-James, and Malcolm Graeme, to win the love of Ellen Douglas.
The Lady of the Lake was what, today, would be called a blockbuster, both critically and commercially, selling 25,000 copies in the first eight months with Scott’s fame growing internationally. It was hugely influential in drawing visitors to the Trossachs, beginning a tourist boom and a popularity that continues to this day.
Yet despite this popularity, the Trossachs never seems to be saturated with people. This may be due to numerous quiet corners and the many paths and tracks that infuse this gorgeous segment of Scotland. Peaceful strolls through woodland, gentle cycles alongside lochs, or more energetic walks are within easy reach. From Ben A’an or Ben Venue you can enjoy breathtaking views extending across the southern Highlands.
Turn off your mind
But perhaps the best way to enjoy a romantic retreat in the Trossachs is by boat. Take a voyage on the historic steamship SS Sir Walter Scott (which sails daily between April and October from Trossachs Pier, near to the charming village of Aberfoyle), along beautiful Loch Katrine to Stronachlachar. Put your feet up and relax together amid gorgeous surroundings.
The gleaming white ship, with portholes, wood-panelling and red and white awning, has sailed these waters for more than 100 years, and is the best way to truly get away from it all.
You can also easily reach Stronachlachar by bike, as an excellent cycle track circumnavigates Loch Katrine (bikes can be hired at Trossachs Pier and taken on board Sir Walter Scott), while the only road in and out of Stronachlachar grants a scenic drive by Loch Ard and Loch Chon.
Upon reaching Stronachlachar, you’ll find a scattering of houses and a little café serving first-class food, and, as it is situated well away from the hordes, tranquillity reigns.
It is worthwhile visiting the striking white house of Glengyle. Clearly visible at the head of Loch Katrine, and only a couple of miles from Stronachlachar (easily attainable on foot or by bike), Glengyle was, in 1671, the birthplace of Scottish folk hero Rob Roy Macgregor. He lived much of his extraordinary life nearby Stronachlachar at Inversnaid as a cattle herder.
Rob’s feud with James Graham, first Duke of Montrose is infamous. Because of this, Rob and his family were evicted from their lands and Rob was branded an outlaw, with the ensuing dispute leading to him becoming a legend in his own lifetime.
Rob died at Balquhidder in 1734 and since then his life has been somewhat fictionalised in both print and film. But, like The Lady of the Lake, Rob’s story has contributed greatly to the Trossachs gaining a certain romantic sheen.
These accounts of the Trossachs, and their gorgeous settings, are intrinsic to the appeal of the area.
Loch Katrine continues to draw visitors who revel in the history, the visual splendour and the serenity of this
HOW TO GET THERE
Stronachlachar is beside Loch Katrine at the end of the B829, 12 miles north-west of Aberfoyle. The SS Sir Walter Scott sails daily between 1 April –31 October from Trossachs Pier, near Aberfoyle, to Stronachlachar.
FIND OUT MORE
The Loch Katrine Experience
The Brenachoile Café
This café on the banks of Loch Katrine serves a great selection of food and drinks.
The Pier Tearoom
You can enjoy panoramic views of Loch Katrine and the Trossachs from The Pier Café, which serves homemade soups, sandwiches and cakes in comfortable surroundings between March and October.
The Old Smiddy
This secluded, beautifully renovated cottage was once a Blacksmiths workshop. Sitting on the edge of Loch Katrine, it is perfect for an undisturbed romantic escape.
David Marshall Lodge
0845 643 9215
For an adventure, try this tree-top course, complete with full safety training. If you have a head for heights and like zip wires and tarzan swings, Go Ape is definitely for you.