The conservation and heritage charity for the
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park



A group of 17 volunteers recently helped to make a difference at the Lauder Monument at Invernoaden in Cowal with the removal of rhododendrons and access path improvements. This was part of the latest in a series of ‘Make a Difference Days’ organised by Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation charity covering the National Park.

Since a major restoration and improvement programme at the site was completed late last year the Lauder Monument has become a popular attraction with the new small car park regularly full. However, since then the path to the Monument eroded in places, a tree fell blocking the Monument access steps and invasive rhododendrons had grown considerably, blocking light to trees and shrubs in the woodland areas lining the path.

The Friends coordinated this latest volunteer event with support from the National Park Authority. Volunteers from SEPA, the National Park Authority and the Friends travelled from quite far afield to take part in this Make a Difference Day. They were joined by some local volunteers from the Strachur area and they all spent the day working together filling dips in the main access, clearing leaves from the steps leading to the Monument, removing a fallen tree, cutting back a substantial amount of ‘rhodies’ and tidying up around the Monument itself.

John Urquhart, Vice Chair of the charity said: “This was another very successful Make a Difference Day, demonstrating what can be achieved when we work together to improve special areas within the National Park.

It was great to see a healthy number of volunteers getting involved in this latest event and pulling together to make a difference at this important historic site which has proved to be very popular following a major programme of works completed by the Friends last year in the run up to the 102nd anniversary of the death of Captain John Lauder, the son of Sir Harry Lauder, on 28th December in France during WW1.”

Anyone wishing to get involved in future Make a Difference Days or helping to maintain the Lauder Monument site can get in touch with the Friends by calling 001389 727761 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Callander Visitor Information Centre Success

Bumper visitor numbers from over twenty different countries 

The former VisitScotland Information Centre that closed in February then re-opened as a Callander community-led visitor information centre has just completed a very successful first season. More than 20,000 visitors, the majority from overseas, dropped in since it opened in May. Three local organisations collaborated to save this key asset, to provide much needed face-to-face information in the town that depends so much on tourism. Callander Community Council, Callander Community Development Trust and the Sir Walter Scott Steamship Trust from Loch Katrine all contributed funding and the centre was staffed by Loch Katrine employees as well as a group of enthusiastic and knowledgeable local volunteers.

As well as providing comprehensive information services on things to see and do, where to stay and route planning, the centre was also the ideal base and box office for community-led events such as Summerfest in July and the Jazz & Blues Festival in October. Going into the winter season, the centre has closed its doors but is hoping to be open at some key periods over the winter.

Chairman of the Visitor Centre’s board, Frank Park, said: “We are very pleased with how the first season has gone both in terms of the numbers of visitors using the service and in how the partnership has worked. And of course, it would not have been possible without the invaluable contribution from our team of dedicated and skilled volunteers who gave up their time to share their experience of Callander and the surrounding area. We’re also grateful for the sterling financial and staffing support from the Steamship Trust as well as the support from Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, VisitScotland and Stirling Council.”

James Fraser, Chief Executive of the Sir Walter Scott Steamship Trust, said: “The Centre provided an important showcase for Callander and the wider Trossachs area and it also played a vital role in reassuring visitors that the historic steamship was operating normally following the devastation caused by landslides at the north end of Loch Katrine in early August. It has more than justified our presence and has reinforced the great importance that visitors place in having access to knowledgeable local people to get the most out of their stay which can never be substituted by reliance on the internet.”

John Martin from Callander Jazz & Blues Festival said: "The VIC provided an excellent, centrally located ticket and information office where our wonderful Festival volunteers could give a warm welcome to hundreds of Festival goers and musicians, and also offer them a tasting of Deanston whisky from our main sponsor and a sample of local Campbell's shortbread to set them up for a lively and fun weekend!"

Volunteers open up views of the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond from the busy A82

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation charity covering Scotland’s first National Park, recently held another successful Make a Difference Day, removing stretches of the tree tunnel alongside the edge of Loch Lomond and the busy A82 as part of their ambitious Windows on the Loch initiative

The event, organised by the Friends, with support of the National Park Authority, luss Estates and Scottish Water saw some 22 volunteers rolling their sleeves up and working hard clearing trees and vegetation at key view points between Luss and Inverbeg to open up stunning views of the loch and Ben Lomond. They also cleared large quantities of litter from this stretch of the loch shoreline.

The Friends have committed to a 10 year rolling programme to ensure millions of visitors as well as local residents have the opportunity to enjoy views of the bonnie banks as they travel up and down the busy A82. Until the friends intervention this important tourist route was characterised by dense thickets and tree cover creating an unattractive 20 mile corridor between Duck Bay and Tarbet with no glimpses of Scotland’s famous loch.

John Urquhart, Vice Chairman of the Friends said: ’’This was the latest in a series of Make a Difference Days led by the Friends, and we are grateful to all the enthusiastic volunteers for their great support and hard work which is helping to ensure more people can enjoy the special scenic qualities of Loch Lomond. I was pleased we had a good cross section of volunteers from many walks of life and including staff from Scottish Water and luss estates as well as youth volunteers from the National Park volunteer scheme.’’

A further Make a Difference Day is planned for Thursday 14th November at the Lauder Memorial site at Invernoaden in Cowal in the run up to the anniversary of a major improvement scheme completed in December last year by the Friends. Anyone interested in taking part in an Autumn clean up of the path and the memorial in a stunning part of the National Park should contact Carol Lloyd at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 01389 727761


Katrine Opening Re-enactment

The 160th anniversary of the Katrine Aqueduct, one of Scotland’s most important pieces of infrastructure, was marked today with a special re-enactment of its official inauguration by Queen Victoria.

Actors donned Victorian attire and a modern-day lookalike ‘Queen Victoria’ followed in the footsteps of the monarch and repeated her words close to the very spot, on the south shore of picturesque Loch Katrine, where she opened the mega-structure on October 14, 1859.

The aqueduct, which takes water from the loch to treatment works that supply 1.3 million people in Glasgow and west central Scotland and is a key part of Scottish Water’s network, was built in the Victorian era to help transform the health of citizens and it continues in full use to this day. Its importance to Scotland, and its stature as one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering of its day, were celebrated when the modern-day ‘Queen Victoria’ stood above the entrance to the aqueduct near Stronachlachar where thousands of people, dignatories and workers who had built the aqueduct gathered to watch history be made in 1859.

An actress playing the part of Queen Victoria helped recreate the historic scene by repeating the words of Her Royal Highness when she told her audience: “It is with much gratification that I avail myself of this opportunity of inaugurating a work which, both in its conception and its execution, reflects so much credit on its promoters, and is so calculated to improve the health and comfort of your vast population, which is rapidly increasing round the great centre of manufacturing industry in Scotland. Such work is worthy of the enterprise and philanthropy of Glasgow and I trust it will be blessed with complete success. I desire that you convey to the great community which you represent my warmest wishes for their continued prosperity and happiness.”

The commemoration of the official opening today included three special public sailings of the vessels the SS Sir Walter Scott and the Lady of the Lake by the Steamship Sir Walter Scott Ltd from Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar. The steamship SS Sir Walter Scott, which has been sailing on the loch for more than a century, was named after the writer who set his 1810 poem Lady of the Lake and his 1818 novel Rob Roy, around Loch Katrine. During the sailings, the actors portraying Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and members of the Forest Theatre Company from Gartmore dressed in period costume, gave interactive performances and told passengers about the history and heritage of the area and the aqueduct.

Billy Petrie DL OBE, Chair, Sir Walter Scott Steamship Trust, said: “We are delighted to be hosting these special sailings, and the re-enactment with ‘Queen Victoria’ at the Katrine Aqueduct, to commemorate such a hugely important occasion in the history of Glasgow. Apart from being a very beautiful loch in the heart of the Trossachs and the birthplace of tourism in Scotland thanks to Sir Walter Scott’s blockbuster of its day, the Lady of the Lake, Loch Katrine and the aqueduct play a central role in the everyday life of the Glasgow area. So it’s only right that we pay tribute to the talented engineers of the Victorian age whose work enabled clean water to flow from loch to city. The special sailings we’ve put on today, with the actors providing a bit of colour and fun, is a fitting and entertaining way to pay tribute to just what a remarkable feat the construction of the aqueduct was.”

Gary Caig, Scottish Water’s water operations manager west, said: “The Katrine Aqueduct was fit for a queen then and is still now and remains a hugely important part of our infrastructure so we are really excited to be involved in this celebration of its formal opening. The aqueduct has certainly, in Queen Victoria’s words, ‘improved the health and comfort of the city’s vast population’ and continues to do so to this day. And, with climate change and sustainability being so important in the 21st century, it is still as efficient and environmentally-friendly now as it was then because it takes water by gravity – without the need for pumping - from Loch Katrine to the Milngavie and Balmore water treatment works before it is distributed to customers across a large swathe of Greater Glasgow and west central Scotland.”

The Katrine Aqueduct comprises two aqueducts that are 25.75 miles and 23.50 miles in length from the loch to Milngavie north of Glasgow, which together can provide about 120 million gallons of water every day. The first was built to give Glasgow a proper water supply and tackle cholera and includes tunnels through mountainous terrain in the shadow of Ben Lomond and bridges over river valleys. The second was constructed to accommodate the rapid expansion of Glasgow, the ‘second city of the Empire’, in the late 19th century.

The entire Katrine Aqueduct scheme cost £3.2m to build, which would be about £320m in today’s prices. It currently supplies about 110 million gallons of water per day to the two water treatment works and it takes the water about 14 hours to travel along the aqueduct from Loch Katrine to the water treatment works. A forgotten treasure trove of Victorian photographs showing the construction of parts of the aqueduct was discovered recently. The glass photograph slides, which had not been seen before by Scottish Water experts with decades of experience of working on the local network, were found along with some books and drawings when the utility was closing one of its offices.

Scottish Water is working on a £15.7m million project to refurbish part of the overall aqueduct scheme at the moment. The project includes structural repairs of three stretches of tunnel and a bridge, improvements to the lining of tunnels and repairs and refurbishments of control valves.

News - Loch Lomond Shore Exhibition Launch

From left to right, James Fraser, Andy Roger, John Urqhart, Audrey Calder and Paul Saunders

From left to right, James Fraser, Andy Roger, John Urqhart, Audrey Calder and Paul Saunders

The conservation charity, the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, has joined forces with Loch Lomond Shores to help fund and install a new £5,000 exhibition showcasing the wonders of Loch Lomond in the busy Loch Lomond Shores shopping mall at the southern end of the loch in Balloch.

The exhibition was opened on 18th September by Andy Roger, Chairman of local destination group, Love Loch Lomond and Resort Director at Cameron House Hotel. Exhibition content was provided by Friends’ Trustees John Urquhart and Paul Saunders who worked over the summer developing the exhibition content and taking some stunning photography to produce a very attractive and informative exhibition designed to encourage the public to explore and enjoy many of the natural and cultural heritage wonders of Loch Lomond and the villages around the lochside.

As part of the exhibition there are also some panels promoting the work of the Friends and this is complemented by literature stands and a donation point. At the opening of the exhibition Andy Roger said: ‘’I am delighted this collaborative effort by the Friends and Loch Lomond Shores has resulted in the production of such a high quality exhibition introducing visitors to the wide variety of things to see and do around this famous and romantic loch. I am also pleased that guests at both of our Cameron House restaurants helped fund the exhibition with voluntary donations through the successful Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme.’’

James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends said: ‘’We have worked closely with Loch Lomond Shores on this joint initiative to promote the special qualities of the wider Loch Lomond area and we have been pleased to provide some grant funding from the Friends visitor giving scheme as well as some practical support to make it happen.’’

Audrey Calder of Loch Lomond Shores said:’’ We were looking to improve the provision of information on Loch Lomond on our busy site and the Friends readily stepped up to help us deliver the exhibition which I am confident will prove to be very popular with our customers. We have appreciated their support and enthusiasm in helping to deliver such an interesting exhibition which is now in a high visibility location in our shopping mall.’’

Funding for the exhibition was provided by Loch Lomond Shores and a grant from the Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme which involves local businesses such as nearby Cameron House encouraging visitors to make donations for conservation, heritage and access projects throughout the National Park

Welcome boost for protecting the bonnie banks of south Loch Lomond with refusal of plans for weddings and functions complex.

The Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, has welcomed the decision by the National Park Authority to refuse planning permission for a complex of six buildings for weddings, functions and overnight accommodation in what they consider to be a particularly sensitive scenic and nature conservation area close to Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve.

James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends said:

We are pleased plans for this major development have at long last been rejected which means the special high value landscape and nature conservation qualities of the area that sweeps down to the southern shores of Loch Lomond near Gartocharn will be protected from further creeping suburbanisation

He added:

The plans for a large functions venue and associated mansion houses and swimming pools were totally inappropriate in this scenic location and right next to the RSPB National Nature Reserve which is home to a rich variety of wildlife and an important staging post for migrating geese

The plans for Wards Estate were submitted several years ago and have been subject to a series of reviews and impact assessment studies due to the sensitivity of the site.  They attracted objections from the local Community Council, RSPB, Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and many local residents.

Make a Difference Day - Monday 23rd September

Our next volunteer day will be taking place on the west banks of Loch Lomond near Inverbeg on 23rd September.

We will be continuing to tackle keeping some of the views of the loch open to avoid a return to the Loch Lomond 'tree tunnel' between Balloch and Tarbet.

We have a 10 year commitment to keeping some stretches of Loch Lomond beside the A82 clear of reseeding trees and shrubs so that the views of the bonnie banks can continue to be enjoyed. 

If you wish to take part in this enjoyable 'Make a Difference Day' please register your interest with us. 

T: 01389 727761 or E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Loch Lomond Sunset Cruise - WED 14th AUGUST

Our popular annual sunset cruise around Loch Lomond is due to take place on the Astina with live music, featuring Loch Lomond songs and ballads on Wednesday 14th August. 

This two hour cruise leaves Sweeney's Boatyard at 7pm and tickets are priced at just £12.

We do advise booking early as the cruise, which we organise jointly with the Lennox Literacy Society, is normally a sell-out.

To book your ticket(s) please give us a call on 01389 727761 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

See you there!!!




Funding support for popular National Park mountain path repairs from innovate visitor giving scheme

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for Scotland's first National Park has raised £10,000 from visitors working with local tourism business in Scotland's first National Park to help improve a number of heavily used and eroded mountain paths.

The funding is being used to support the Mountains and the People project which is being led by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland working in partnership with a range of bodies including Loch Lomnd and The Trossachs National Park.  The project was established to tackle a raft of mountain path upgrading works with a team consisting of both staff and volunteers.  Its work has included upgrading 19 paths in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park over the past four years.

The Friends is providing the funding through the pioneering Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme, which involves over 100 businesses throughout the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park collecting donations from visitors by a variety of means including opt-in donations on overnight accommodation and menu items in cafes and restaurants.

James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends said:

We are delighted to be continuing to raise funds to support this very valuable mountain paths work which is providing trainees and volunteers with an opportunity to learn new skills as well as making a real difference to the overall quality of some heavily used paths throughout the National Park.

Our visitor giving mechanism provides an ideal platform for many thousands of visitors who enjoy the extensive path network to give something back and it is encouraging to see how many are willing to do so through Friends of OUR park donations.

Outdoor Access Trust Chief Executive, Dougie Baird said:

We very much appreciate this generous contribution from the Friends innovative visitor giving scheme which is being supported by many local businesses located in the shadows of many of the most popular mountain paths that we have been involved in upgrading


Volunteers & Forest Holidays recognised by National Park charity after outstanding contribution to making a difference


Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park area, has recognised the outstanding voluntary contributions made by two long serving stalwarts of their respective communities in Arrochar and Strachur as well as Forest Holidays who have supported a number of practical initiatives to make a difference for the benefit of people in Scotland's first National Park.

At the charity's recent annual general meeting, awards were given to Mary Haggarty, the long service Secretary of Arrochar, Tarbet and Ardlui Community Council and Evie Campbell of Strachur for her contribution to the Lauder Cowal connections and Lauder Monument restoration programme over the last few years.

Mary, very appropriately, received the Hannah Stirling National Park Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her hard work, commitment and outstanding service over 58 years in a variety of voluntary youth, community and heritage roles in the Arrochar and Tarbet area.  There are very few aspects of community life and projects Mary has not been involved in through her activities as a youth club leader, Secretary of the Community Council, Chair of the local Heritage Group, a members of the Communty Campus Group and many other groups trying to improve local facilities and services for residnets and visitors.

The Hannah Stirling National Park Lifetime Achievement Award was established by the Friends in 2015 in honour of its late former President.

Mary said:

I was delighted to receive this prestigious award from the Friends and it came as a complete surprise that my efforts on behalf of my local community over many years were recognised in this way.  Having met with Hannah on the volunteer circuit locally over 50 years ago and many times since I was deeply touched to receive this award in her memory.

The Friends also recognised the efforts of Strachur woman Evie Campbell who was a District Nurse and Midwife Health Visitor in Cowal for almost  30 years but has also been heavily involved in many aspects of community life in a voluntary capacity including the Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop and Strachur Memorial Hall.  Evie was particularly recognised for her efforts in recent years coordinating and delivering a very memorable concert in Strachur to mark the Sir Harry Lauder and Cpt John Lauder connections with Cowal and for helping deliver a moving ceremony to commemorate the restoration and rededication of the Lauder Monument at Invernoaden last December which was a flagship Friends project.  She received the Gavin Arneil Volunteer of the Year Award.

Evie said:

I was honoured to receive this award for my contribution along with many others in the local community to marking the Lauder Cowal Connections and the completion of the Friends restoration and improvement project at the Lauder Monument which was erected many years ago in memory of Cpt John Lauder who was tragically killed in the First World War a month after his father had purchased Glenbranter Estate for him as an engagement present.

The Friends also recognised Forest Holidays with the National Park Business Supporter of the Year award in recognition of their contribution to community projects, litter volunteering events and sponsorship of youth engagement initiatives which have enriched and empowered the lives of many youngsters living in the National Park.  Forest Holidays have developed very successful clusters of high quality self-catering lodges in forest settings at Ardgartan and Strathyre.

Friends Chairman James Fraser said:

All of these award winners are fully worthy of their recognition and we are grateful for the respective ways in which they have helped to make a real difference around the National Park, whether it is campaigning for specific improvement projects, supporting youth inititatives, organising local events or taking part in litter clearance work to keep Scotland's first National Park beautiful.  We are always on the look out for volunteers and businesses to become involved with the Friends and anybody interested in doing this in either capacity is welcome to get in touch.  We congratulate all of our award winners this year and commend their efforts.