Issue 24, Spring 2006

This edition's cover picture is of Cailness on Loch Lomondside, the destination of one of the walks featured in our recently published book "Walking from Lochs and Glens Hotels".

Missing out on a coach excursion to spend a day in the glorious Scottish countryside is becoming increasingly popular with our guests and so we have compiled a selection of recommended walks from each hotel ranging from an evening stroll to a full day's mountain climb.The illustrated book is available from the hotels at only £3.95, or alternatively it can be purchased by mail order from our Head Office at £4.95 including P and P.

We have some exciting new excursions this season. One from the Loch Tummel Hotel is particularly worth mentioning - a spectacular train journey between Rannoch and Fort William that crosses some of the most remote and beautiful wilderness in the British Isles. It promises to be a memorable day. Full details, along with all other 2007 itineraries, are enclosed.

There has been a fair amount of press coverage on the smoking ban that will apply in England next year. Here in Scotland we already have the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 in force, which means that smoking is not allowed in any part an hotel other than in designated bedrooms. With future bookings therefore,we will need to know whether you require a smoking or non smoking bedroom

There is little new to report on the progress of the prolonged planning application for our new hotel at Ardgartan. Regular readers will know of the array of studies, reports and investigations we have already had to commission at the request of the various interested authorities . Lately we have completed a bathymetric study of the tidal flows of Loch Long, together with a 200 year flood risk projection of the proposed site - despite the fact that by the time the waters are lapping against the steps leading to the hotel much of the nearby village of Arrochar would have been engulfed!

We await developments.

Michael Wells

The Sir Walter Scott

Many of our readers will have made the magical journey along Loch Katrine from the Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar aboard the SS Sir Walter Scott, but how many know the rich history of this enduring boat that has been sailing these waters for over 100 years?

She is the last surviving screw propelled steamship in service in Scotland and, remarkably, is still powered by her original steam engine!

The tourist potential of sailing amidst the unspoiled scenery of the Trossachs was realised by two hoteliers, Robert Blair, owner of the Trossachs Hotel, and Donald Ferguson of the Stronachlachar Hotel. Their businesses, situated at either end of Loch Katrine would clearly benefit from a steamer service linking the two properties.

In the last year of the 19th century they commissioned the building of the Sir Walter Scott.The contract went to William Denny & Bros Ltd. at an agreed price of £4,269. This figure included a delivery charge of £2,028 indicating that the construction was just part of the challenge. How were they to deliver this 115 ton vessel capable of carrying over 400 passengers from their shipyard in Dumbarton to the land locked waters of Loch Katrine? The solution was ingenious and must have required considerable organisation.

On its completion in 1900 it was disassembled and the sections loaded onto barges and taken along the entire length of the River Leven from its mouth on the Clyde to its source at the southern end of Loch Lomond. They were then towed the 20 miles along the loch to Inversnaid where they were unloaded and dragged by horsedrawn cart up the steep hill at the rear of the Inversnaid Hotel and on to Stronachlachar where the boat was re-assembled and launched.

One would have thought that such an unique event would have been covered by the press, but it was not, probably due to the fact that journalists of the day were pre-occupied by the ill-health of Queen Victoria, two military disasters in the Transvaal and the attempted assassination of the Prince of Wales - hardly a quiet news day!

The Sir Walter Scott ran regularly throughout the entire 20th century, scarcely affected by two world wars and unimagined advances in technology, but finally due to her increasing age and additional standards required to meet Health and Safety regulations she ran into financial problems as the century ended. But the good news is that our new Scottish Executive has come to her aid with financial help that will ensure her continued operation for the foreseeable future.

At Lochs and Glens we will continue to support this grand old lady for as long as she continues to ply her familiar run. In the coming season Loch Katrine cruises will be included in many of the itineraries from the Loch Achray and Inversnaid Hotels.

Scone Palace

One of our new destinations in 2007 will be a visit to Scone Palace in Perthshire. It is now home to the Earl of Mansfield, but 1,500 years ago it was the capital of the Pictish kingdom and an important seat of the ancient Celtic Church. In the intervening centuries it has been the home of parliaments and the crowning place of kings. It has housed the Stone of Scone and been immortalised in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Visits, which will be featured in many of our itineraries at the Loch Tummel Hotel, will include a tour of over half of the palace including all of the formal rooms with their fascinating array of treasures.

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