Visitor center planned at the sight that inspired Sir Walter Scott’s poem

ROMANTIC, gothic and full of historical drama, Sir Walter Scott’s epic stories did more than charm his readers – they sent them on a journey of discovery to learn more about Scotland.

Today, tourism companies are using one of his most famous poems as inspiration to entice a new wave of visitors to explore the region that inspired the novelist.

Scott’s 1810 poem The Lady of the Lake is credited with inspiring a flood of visitors to come to Scotland.

The poem, written while Scott was visiting Loch Katrine in the Trossachs, recounts the power struggle between King James V and the Douglas clan, and the efforts of various key figures to win the hand of Ellen, daughter of the Earl of Bothwell .

Set in and around Loch Katrine, it broke poetry sales records when published, with 25,000 copies sold in eight months, and saw Scott achieve worldwide fame.

Now the Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust has successfully secured a £231,000 grant for a new watchtower and two viewpoints linking the walks above the busy Trossachs Pier visitor center to Loch Katrine.

It comes from the latest round of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) which is managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The tower and walks are the latest phase of £1.5million plans to improve visitor infrastructure and showcase Scotland’s birthplace of tourism.

They got planning permission last year and will be built where Scott was inspired to write The Lady of the Lake.

James Fraser, CEO and Trustee of the Steamship Trust, said: “We are delighted that our latest bid for funding has been successful in a highly competitive application process with other projects in Scotland. It is the culmination of many years of hard work and planning to improve facilities for visitors to Loch Katrine.

”We are grateful to Stirling Council and the many local community groups and individuals who have provided an unprecedented level of support for this imaginative, high quality project which will connect people to an important cultural and natural heritage site easily accessible and safe. and responsible pathways through the heart of the national park.” Loch Katrine and the Trossachs has become known as ‘the birthplace of Scottish tourism’ following the publication of a poem.

Scott’s 1818 novel Rob Roy was also set in the area.

The rapid growth of tourism led to the introduction of passenger ferries and a number of passenger steamships in the 1800s.

The SS Sir Walter Scott carried several thousand tourists in its lifetime and was, until it ceased to operate, the only surviving screw steamer in regular passenger service in Scotland.

She was built by William Denny and Brothers at Denny’s Dockyard in Dumbarton on the River Leven. The 115-tonne, 110-foot-long ship entered service on Loch Katrine in the spring of 1900, following trials on the Clyde in 1899.

Ownership of the steamer was transferred from Scottish Water to a charitable trust in 2007, and in 2008 the steamer was converted from coal to the more environmentally friendly biodiesel.

The famous steamship, named after the novelist, provided pleasure cruises and a ferry service on Loch Katrine for over a century – before being decommissioned over two years ago.

Now the ship is at the center of the restoration project as part of a £1.1million project for a Trossachs recovery plan.

An appeal from Save Our Steamship is about halfway to the £500,000 which it is hoped will complete the restoration work in time to resume operations this summer.

The bulk of the investment will go towards improving visitor centers at Trossachs Pier and Stronachlachar Pier at either end of Loch Katrine.

Work is already underway in Stronachlachar with the creation of a new wooded car park and the installation of improved facilities for motorhomes, walkers and cyclists.

Tenders will soon be launched for improvements to parking, toilets and paths and a new mobility center at Trossachs Pier.

Expressions of interest are currently being sought for the operation of the Pier Café and picnic area by loch Stronachlachar, where a £100,000 improvement package is at an advanced stage.

As part of the visitor management project, Forestry and Land Scotland recently completed work to double the size of the nearby Ben A’an car park.

VisitScotland Regional Firefighter Neil Christison said: “This is great news for Loch Katrine and the surrounding area and will no doubt improve the visitor experience in the future. Increasingly, visitors are increasingly aware of their impacts on the world around them, both socially and environmentally.

“Being a responsible visitor and respecting and protecting our environment and our communities makes for a better experience for everyone. Projects like this will help ensure that our tourist destinations will continue to be enjoyed by visitors and locals for generations to come.

Cllr Margaret Brisley, Head of Stirling Council’s Finance, Economy and Business Support Committee, added: ‘I am delighted with the outcome of this bid which has received tremendous support from the local community.

“This project will provide a vital upgrade to one of Scotland’s most iconic heritage sites which will benefit tourists and residents alike.”

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