Exploring Loch Katrine

Loch Katrine Geography and Surroundings

Nestled within the picturesque Trossachs region of Scotland, Loch Katrine is one of the most scenic lochs in the country. Stretching for over 9 miles between the mountains of Ben A'an and Ben Venue, the glacially formed loch has enchanted visitors for centuries with its tranquil beauty. The loch itself covers an area of over 8 square kilometres, with a maximum depth of 130 metres. The loch's water comes from rainfall and streams which descend from the surrounding hills. The primary outflow is the River Teith, which originates at the eastern end of Loch Katrine and flows eastwards to join Loch Lomond near Callander. Loch Katrine is surrounded by the scenic forests and mountains of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The steep slopes surrounding the loch are cloaked in ancient oak woodlands, home to red deer, pine marten and red squirrel. Heather moorlands emerge above the treeline, creating a stunning interplay of loch, forest and mountain vistas. The loch's peaceful character belies its proximity to Scotland's major central belt cities. Loch Katrine is only around 60 miles from both Glasgow and Edinburgh, making it an easily accessible retreat from urban life. The loch can be reached via the A821 from Callander or Aberfoyle, or on the scenic drive over the Duke's Pass from Aberfoyle.

Loch Katrine Boat Trips, Walks and Cycling

Loch Katrine offers a range of ways for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to experience its special atmosphere. At the heart of the visitor experience are the unique steamship cruises which ply the waters of the loch daily. The famous Sir Walter Scott steamship has been sailing Loch Katrine since 1899, providing passengers with an unforgettable perspective on the loch's tranquil vistas. The company offering this boat tour is The Royal Lady of the Lake


The scenic 10 mile cruise from Stronachlachar pier to the far end of the loch takes you past wooded bays and islands. From the water you can admire the soaring slopes of Ben A'an and Ben Venue reflected in the glassy water. Commentary during the cruise will fill you in on the history, legends and wildlife of Loch Katrine.


Loch Katrine Cruise  operates traditional motor cruiser tours on Loch Katrine, departing from the Katrine Pier at Stronachlachar. This experienced cruising company provides visitors with a flexible way to explore the length of this scenic loch. On board the cruisers, you get to relax and soak up the scenery from the comfort of the deck. Blankets are provided to keep warm on the breezier days. The captain provides live commentary during the trip, pointing out areas of interest and wildlife along the loch. They try to get close to the shoreline to appreciate the details of the lochside landscapes. You can choose between a 1 hour cruise or a 2 hour cruise depending on your schedule. 


For the more actively inclined, Loch Katrine is surrounded by miles of excellent hiking trails. The classic hike is the circuit of Ben A'an, which takes you to the summit of this distinctive peak for panoramic views over Loch Katrine. Other scenic options include hiking between several small lochs in the rugged Glengyle valley, or exploring the peaceful Loch Arklet.

Loch Katrine History and Heritage

Loch Katrine has a rich cultural heritage and has inspired artists and writers across the centuries. The surrounding forests were one of the hunting grounds of Scotland's ancient kings, and the loch itself has traces of crannogs - ancient dwellings built on artificial islands. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the warring clans MacGregors and Colquhouns both laid claim to the loch and surrounding glens. The rugged landscape gave refuge to highland rebels after the failed Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745. It was only after crushing the clans and pacifying the highlands in the mid-18th century that the British government could consider the landscape safe enough for tourism. 


Loch Katrine rose to fame in the early 19th century after being featured in the famous poem of Sir Walter Scott, The Lady of the Lake. Scott's romantic tales of highland feuds and legends were inspired by the loch's dramatic scenery. The poem's popularity sparked mass tourism and a steamship service was soon established to serve the influx of Victorian visitors.  The loch's role supplying fresh drinking water to Glasgow via an aqueduct constructed in 1859 further cemented its iconic status. The aqueduct was a remarkable feat of Victorian engineering, constructed under the supervision of civil engineer John Frederick Bateman. The aqueduct is still in use today, although Loch Arklet now also contributes to the supply.

Wildlife at Loch Katrine

Although best known for its scenic vistas, Loch Katrine also supports an abundance of wildlife. The ancient oak woodlands cloaking the hillsides provide a refuge for many species. Red deer can often be spotted grazing along the shoreline, while pine martens, red squirrels and Scottish wildcats inhabit the forests. 


Birdlife around the loch is rich and varied, with divers, ducks and grebes frequenting the relatively undisturbed waters. If you're lucky, you may spot the majestic osprey, which has been recently reintroduced at several Scottish lochs. The loch waters also harbour Arctic char as well as the more common brown trout. Otters inhabit the loch but are notoriously difficult to spot in the wild.


Several environmental projects are working to preserve the biodiversity of Loch Katrine in the face of modern pressures. Native woodland schemes aim to restore and connect fragments of ancient Caledonian forest around the loch. The endangered Scottish wildcat has been declining due to hybridisation with domestic cats - conservationists are trying to reverse this through breeding programmes. Careful management of visitor pressures, including sustainable tourism initiatives, also helps maintain the ecological health of the loch.

Lumsdale falls in the peak district.
Lumsdale falls in the peak district.

Loch Katrine Eco Lodges, Hotels and Campsites

Loch Katrine makes for an ideal base to enjoy the great outdoors of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. As well as great hiking, cycling and boating, visitors can also fish for trout on the loch with a permit. The scenic location lends itself to creative activities like painting, writing or photography. You can choose to simply relax and soak up the atmosphere on the shoreline or islands.


Several facilities cater to overnight visitors to immerse themselves in the loch's peaceful ambience. The pier-side Lodge on Loch Katrine provides contemporary styled apartments right beside cruise departures. Further along the loch shore, the eco-friendly Shore Cottages provide a range of self-catering options in a secluded bay.


Brenachoile B&B offers traditional highland hospitality with views over Loch Arklet. Campers are also well catered for, with two excellent sites at Caol Ghleann and Cashel bordering the loch. Both sites provide an ideal base for hikers, although advance booking is recommended.


For a unique experience, why not spend the night on Loch Katrine itself? The award-winning Floatel provides en-suite lodges actually floating on pontoons. Watching the changing light across the loch from your private balcony is an experience to remember. From here you can paddle off to explore the tranquil bays and wooded islands.


Whether you come for a boat trip, a hike or a peaceful retreat, Loch Katrine deserves a place on any nature lover's Scottish itinerary. With its ease of access from central Scotland and wealth of outdoor activities, Loch Katrine provides the perfect introduction to the wonders of Scotland's wild landscapes.

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