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

News

200,000th visitor to Tom Weir Statue site

Tuesday, February 7 2017

Just over two years after the unveiling of the Tom Weir statue at Balmaha Bay a staggering 200,000 people have now visited the site to pay homage to Scotland’s most popular mountain man. Tom Weir is credited with introducing several generations to Scotland’s great outdoors, and the wonders of Loch Lomond in particular, through his prolific writings and numerous TV and radio broadcasts over a 50-year period.

At a special ceremony to mark the occasion Cllr Graham Lambie presented the 200,000th visitor Emma Hamilton from Peebles with a DVD featuring the TV series On Weir’s Way, fronted by David Hayman. Emma also received a gift voucher for dinner, bed and breakfast for two at the Oak Tree Inn overlooking the site by proprietor Sandy Fraser who also played an important role in transforming the site which now houses the statue and is known as Tom Weir’s Rest.

The Tom Weir Memorial Fund and the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs worked jointly to raise almost £150,000 to transform the former run down picnic site at Balmaha Bay which is now the popular home of Tom Weir’s statue and the recently created Tom and Rhona’s Mountain Garden.

Commenting on the success of the site Cllr Lambie said: “I am pleased Stirling Council was able to lease the site at Balmaha to the Friends and provide small grants from our community grant scheme for such a worthwhile project. I am impressed with what has been achieved here with the creation of a very popular and quality heritage visitor attraction which is a fitting tribute to Tom Weir in a stunning lochside location.”

James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends said: “We are delighted with the success of the site which has far exceeded our expectations and we are grateful for the support we have received from Tom’s widow Rhona, Stirling Council, the National Park Authority, Heritage Lottery Fund, Sandy Fraser and the many thousands of ordinary people who responded to the public appeal for funds to help deliver this project.”

He added: “It is very encouraging following the installation of donation posts last year that thousands of pounds in donations from visitors have been raised to assist with the hefty annual insurance for the statue and the ongoing maintenance of the site by our local contractor, Alexander Fraser and Sons.”

Susan Taylor, Administrator for the Tom Weir Memorial Fund added: “We have come a long way since it was first mooted there should be a statue to honour Tom’s contribution to enthusing people about Scotland’s great outdoors and I am delighted the statue and the associated mountain garden and story boards at Balmaha are proving to be so popular with people from all walks of life. I am also delighted that the Tom Weir’s Loch Lomond Wonderland initiative helped engage hundreds of schoolchildren around the loch in the production of an attractive booklet and supporting exhibition.

“This would not have been possible without a hard working group of volunteers and the considerable help of many others, including the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, who stepped in to handle grant funding bids and coordinate the delivery of the project.”

Award for Love Loch Lomond

Tuesday, January 31 2017

 

Destination Organisation Love Loch Lomond is the first winner of £300,000 from the Scottish Enterprise Tourism Destination Development Fund, an annual competition for ideas that will grow businesses, increase spending and support innovation.

 

Love Loch Lomond, a business and tourism partnership, was successful after convincing Scottish Enterprise its ideas had the energy and fresh approach to make a significant impact on the sector’s future. The new funding allows the partnership to deliver a step-change project for its destination.  Love Loch Lomond has partnered with Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park as well as The Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs to deliver components of the overall project.

 

Danny Cusick, Director for Food and Drink, Tourism and Textiles at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This is a true collaborative project with all the key partners coming together to focus on an exciting new opportunity in marine tourism, and help the businesses in the area capitalise on this to drive increased visitor spend in the Loch Lomond, Trossachs and Clyde Sea Lochs area.”

 

Scottish Enterprise was impressed by the way the organisation’s partners came together to form a strategic objective, and delivery plan. Each partner is contributing time and money, and delivering an element of the project based on its strengths.

 

By building on the key theme of marine tourism, Love Loch Lomond is moving away from general destination development activities and is instead focusing on a specific opportunity that can drive substantive impact for the region. This project work will appeal to international visitors and is exploring new methods of interacting with businesses.

 

The business and tourism partnership formed a strategy that is identifiably Loch Lomond in flavour, but where its distinct towns, villages, waterways and hills can retain their own appeal. Each area can be capitalised on, with businesses tapping into the identity, enhancing visitors’ experience.  The partnership’s vision is to use the destination more effectively. Love Loch Lomond wants visitors to enjoy a more rounded experience, for example, encouraging them to stay longer and explore more of what’s on offer. This will encourage businesses to help each other and attract new custom.

 

The project will help businesses to increase their knowledge of industry trends, complementary offers and experiences. The funding will pay for partners to develop their expertise through workshops and new information-sharing resources. There will also be help for businesses to improve their use of digital methods to attract visitors, including training events and access to a web portal where businesses can share what they learn.

Karen Donnelly, Love Loch Lomond Destination Manager said: “We named our bid ‘Collaborating for Success’ as partners and businesses had been working separately and realised they would have a better chance of maximising opportunities for businesses if they joined efforts. Better dialogue put people at the forefront – both in terms of delivering services and using them”.

Karen explained: “The award means that Love Loch Lomond and its partners can continue to grow and assist the tourism industry to raise standards and encourage growth. We are dedicated to working to capitalise on the area's tourism potential and to enhance the visitor experience. This work would not be possible without the assistance of the Scottish Enterprise, Tourism Destination Development Fund.”

Charlie Croft, Tourism Adviser at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park said: “Visitors to the National Park expect a world class experience and continuous investment is essential to keep up with this expectation.  We will be working with businesses and partners to develop new tourism products and services whilst carrying out destination specific research to ensure our industry is well informed and able to respond to changing behaviours and trends.”

James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs said: “This funding boost will enable us to roll out an ecotourism initiative that helps tourism businesses to capitalise more on the special natural heritage qualities of the National Park and the Clyde Sea Lochs that has not been possible before and this should help to more strongly position the area as a must visit destination in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.’’

Boost for Lomond Mountain Rescue Team

Tuesday, January 31 2017

 

The Friends have made a £1,000 donation to the Drymen based Loch Lomond Rescue Team’s funding appeal for a new rescue vehicle.

 

The Rescue Team is looking to replace its existing 4x4 vehicle with a new all-terrain vehicle to enable its members to continue to undertake their important rescue work in the heart of Scotland’s first National Park which attracts over million visitors a year. The funding contribution from the Friends has been made possible due to the success of the Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme which involves a range of local tourism businesses collecting donations from visitor enjoying recreational opportunities in the National Park.

 

The Friends of OUR park project has been operational since 2010 and has raised substantial sums for a wide range of projects in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park area.

 

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “The work undertaken by Lomond Mountain Rescue Team’s many volunteers is vital to ensuring the safety of visitors to Ben Lomond and surrounding hills all year round and we are pleased to make a donation to this very project.

 

‘’The Friends of OUR park project has enjoyed another successful year thanks to the generosity of businesses all over the National Park and we very much appreciate their continued support. We also would urge any interested companies to get in touch with us if they wish to join this project, which aims to continue to support causes like Loch Lomond Mountain Rescue Team with important funding for years to come.”

 

Heather Sinclair, of Lomond Mountain Rescue Team, said: “If all required funding is secured, the new vehicle will allow the team better access, better communications and ability to respond to emergencies in wild places not accessible without it. The present vehicle, which requires replaced, is fully equipped with blue light driving equipment and appropriate communication equipment as well as a plethora of medical, technical and other equipment necessary for searches and rescues.

 

“We are extremely grateful to Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs for this most generous donation, and to all those who contributed to their Friends of OUR park programme to enable this to happen. Their fundraising is a tremendous asset to organisations like ours.”

Double boost for lochside community council

Thursday, November 10 2016

 

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park area, has helped to expand the provision of public access defibrillators in the park by part-funding the purchase of a unit for the small village of Ardlui at the north end of Loch Lomond.

 

The defibrillator is due to be situated in the village as part of a project led by Arrochar, Tarbet & Ardlui Community Council. The Friends have been able to contribute £800 towards the cost as a result of funds raised by local businesses such as Cruise Loch Lomond and Fascadail Guest House participating in the Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme.

 

As well as this, a £200 donation has also been made towards covering the cost of improving the plinth access area next to the war memorial in Arrochar. This project is also being led by the Community Council. Cheques towards both of these projects were recently presented at an awards ceremony in the Three Villages Hall which was attended by local businesses participating in the Friends of OUR park scheme.

 

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “Ensuring the safety of the 4 million annual visitors to the National Park and local residents is important and the availability of defibrillators in remoter parts of the park, which are some distance away from the nearest hospital, has been a high priority for the Friends working with local groups and businesses.

 

‘’Last month the Trossachs Search and Rescue Group, who have been at the forefront of this initiative, installed the 100th defibrillator at Inchmurrin Hotel on Inchmurrin Island. While this was an important milestone, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels where safety is concerned and the more defibrillators we have, the better.

 

‘’We are also pleased to be able to make a contribution towards the  war memorial access project and are very grateful to all businesses and their patrons who helped to make this funding possible. We would other businesses to join the OUR park visitor giving scheme so that we can increase the number of projects supported to make the National Park a better place for visitors and local residents.’’

 

Mary Haggarty, Secretary of Arrochar, Tarbet & Ardlui Community Council, said: “These are welcome investments in important projects in our lochside communities. Due to the remoteness of the area, response times to emergency calls may be longer than in other parts of the National Park and there is evidence from elsewhere that the availability of defibrillators locally helps save lives. The Friends contributions to helping secure a defibrillator for Ardlui and supporting our war memorial project are very much appreciated and we are extremely grateful to all contributors to the Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme and local businesses who have helped raise the much needed funds.”

Community Woodlands car park funding boost

Thursday, November 10 2016

 

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park, has awarded a grant of £500 towards upgrading and extending a small car park at a community woodlands between Lochgoilhead and Carrick Castle.

 

Cormonachan Woodlands Association has received the funding to create a larger car park close to Jan’s Hideaway Woodlands Cabin which is used for training youngsters in woodcraft skills. The existing car park can only take two cars, and the improvement scheme will boost this number to eight, including a disabled bay and space for a minibus.

 

The Friends have raised the money through the successful Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme, which has been operational for six years and has seen substantial sums raised for a range of projects throughout the National Park by businesses collecting voluntary donations from visitors.

 

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “This was a project we did not hesitate to support as soon as we were contacted by Cormonachan Woodlands Association, as the extended car park will make visiting the community woodlands much easier for many people, including the thousands of youngsters visiting nearby Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre each year.

 

“The Friends of OUR park scheme has been supporting projects like this for some time now and we are always keen to boost its reach throughout the National Park. ‘’

 

Liz Evans, Chair of Cormonachan Woodlands Association (www.cormonachan-woodlands.co.uk), said: “The recently rejuvenated Association has been progressing a number of improvements at the woodlands as part of an ambitious programme to give people a better chance to enjoy the experience, and we feel that having better car parking facilities can only help. Obviously this is not a cheap undertaking and we are extremely grateful to the Friends for their support, which they have been only too happy to give.”

Friends help Loch Tay signing project

Thursday, November 10 2016

 

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park area, has assisted with the provision of signage at one of Scotland’s largest freshwater lochs by providing funding from the pioneering Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme.

 

Visitors to Loch Tay, at Killin, can now find their way around the attractive circular walk more easily with the new finger posts, which have now been installed by the Breadalbane Tourism Co-operative. Previously, many visitors had been unsure of how to find their way to the Loch shore safely, and the new signs mark out the all abilities circular path which links the Loch with the main village car park. The Friends’ £790 grant ensured this could happen, with the money being raised through a range of businesses in Scotland’s first National Park, who collect voluntary donations from visitors and customers.

 

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “Breadalbane Tourism Co-operative is working hard to improve the visitor experience in the Breadalbane area and we were pleased to support their efforts with this grant award. The much needed new signage is already making a very noticeable difference for visitors to Killin who can now enjoy a safe family friendly circular path linking the village with the shores of Loch Tay.

 

“The Friends of OUR park programme has been on the go for six years now and is going from strength to strength with 100 local businesses participating enabling us to provide cash injections to projects like this one.”

 

Ken Chew, of Breadalbane Tourism Co-operative, added: “This is a project that has been very important to us since we started work and we cannot thank Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs enough for their support in helping us make it happen. Loch Tay is already an extremely popular haunt with visitors to this part of the National Park but we want to make it even more appealing, and elements like the new signage can only offer further improvement.

 

“The Friends do great work in supporting projects throughout the National Park and businesses interested in taking in the OUR park visitor giving scheme. Similarly, any local bodies with an access or heritage project which needs funding should get in touch with them.”

Family friendly path upgrade complete

 

Wednesday, November 2 2016

 

More than £30,000 has been invested in a much needed footpath improvement in Scotland’s first National Park, allowing families and other walkers to safely explore the Whinney Hill Woods above Balloch Country Park where they can enjoy stunning views of Loch Lomond.

The funding for the improvements came from The Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park, the local tourism organisation, Love Loch Lomond, the local destination organisation and The Woodland Trust, the charitable body which manages the Whinney Hill Woods on a long-term lease.

Friends Vice-Chairman John Urquhart said: “This is the culmination of many years of effort by the Woodland Trust to improve access to these woods which previously consisted of a mainly unmade “trod” which had got into a real mess as increasing numbers of walkers sought to avoid wet sections. It is fantastic that folk can now enjoy this improved facility which offers an excellent walking experience so close to Balloch which is the premier gateway to Scotland’s first National Park.’’

He added: “This upgraded path is a welcome addition to the range of family friendly paths for visitors and locals in the Balloch area which is an important southern gateway to the National Park It is essential that visitors arriving at Balloch have a top quality experience as they set out to explore the National Park and the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and we are delighted that our contribution has helped the Woodland Trust deliver on these aims.”

Karen Donnelly, Destination Manager of Love Loch Lomond, added: “It is great to see the repairs on the Whinney Hill footpath finally completed after a long process which has borne fruit in the end, thanks to the tenacity of the Woodland Trust to see it through. It has been a team effort by everybody involved, from a practical and financial point of view, and we hope that the newly-repaired facility will be enjoyed by many visitors to Loch Lomond.”

Sarah Brown, Funded Projects Officer at the Woodland Trust, said: “This marks the completion of an intensive programme of work which could not have been carried out without the support of these two organisations. We are extremely grateful to the Friends and to Love Loch Lomond for their funding support in delivering a path improvement scheme that I am sure will prove popular with visitors and locals.”

 

Volunteers help to improve lochside beauty spot at volunteer event

Wednesday, October 19 2016

Volunteers helped to keep an important viewpoint in Scotland’s first National Park beautiful as part of the latest Make a Difference Day led by Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent and conservation and heritage charity for the Park.

A group of around 40 people travelled to Inversnaid to take part in practical conservation activities including rhododendron removal and path maintenance tasks beside the scenic waterfalls, RSPB Nature Reserve and Inversnaid Hotel, which is a popular beauty spot enjoyed by many thousands of West Highland Way walkers and visitors arriving at the village’s jetty on boat trips operated by Cruise Loch Lomond.

The volunteers came from a variety of walks of life including Luss Estates, Lloyds Banking Group and Scottish Water as well as motivated individuals. They were recruited by the Friends, The Mountains & The People project, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority and The Countryside Trust who work collaboratively on a range of volunteering events throughout the year in the National Park to make a difference.

On a day of challenging weather, Tarbet-based boat trip operator Cruise Loch Lomond provided complimentary travel and hot drinks for the volunteers, while Lochs and Glens Hotels, who own Inversnaid Hotel, provided much needed shelter when the weather took a turn for the worse.

The event was the latest Make a Difference Day to be led by the Friends, and followed on from a previous rhododendron removal event beside the A82 at Loch Lomond. In recent years other Make a Difference Days have involved litter clearance and path improvements works at different locations around the National Park. Events have taken place in Arrochar and The Trossachs, with numerous volunteers and corporate bodies helping out to protect the landscapes of the National Park.

Friends Vice-Chairman John Urquhart, who was among the volunteers who took part on the day, said: “This was a very successful day and the work undertaken by the team of enthusiastic volunteers has made a real difference at a popular lochside beauty spot. Our volunteers always turn out in force for these types of events which make a huge contribution to augmenting the work of others in trying to keep some of the   special places in the National Park in a good condition for visitors to enjoy. We are also extremely grateful to the organisations and business supporters with whom we joined forces to help make this event an undoubted success.”

Tom Wallace, Project Manager with The Mountains & The People, added: “Events like these are a key part of the work our project delivery across both Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and The Cairngorms National Parks, and it was an easy decision for us to become involved. Volunteers are vital to the protection of Scotland’s National Parks and it was very heartening to see people, and a range of third sector partners, turning out and work together towards a common goal on what was a far from perfect day weatherwise.

“The Mountains & The People project still has four years left to run and we would be very keen to join forces with the Friends and others to stage more such activity days to ensure as many people as possible play their parts in conserving Scotland’s two National Parks.”

Stuart Cordner of Cruise Loch Lomond added: ‘’As a business supporter of the Friends we were delighted to provide free boat transport and hot drinks to the volunteers who gave up their time to help open up views and paths overrun by rhododendrons at scenic Inversnaid which is one of the highlights on our cruises itineraries.’’

Job opportunity in the National Park

Thursday, October 13 2016

OUR friends at The Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT) have a vacancy for an environmental conservation training officer for Loch Lomond on a fixed-term two-year contract.

COAT has developed an exciting new project - The Mountains and The People - with a wide partnership including Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland. The project aims to enhance and protect the upland environment through a programme of upland path works over five years, and to engage the people of Scotland and beyond in the delivery of this work.

This is a key post within The Mountains and The People project and is responsible for developing and delivering SVQ Training Courses for groups of up to 8 trainees in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park area. The training course will be vocational and site based, with assessment to SVQ standards in Environmental Conservation at Levels 2, 3 and 4. The course will look to provide trainees from a range of backgrounds with the skills required to enter the upland conservation industry and places a strong focus on path maintenance and construction, in conjunction with generic skill areas of communication, site assessment, health and safety, and site restoration.

Based in the Balloch training centre, near Loch Lomond, the Training Officer will report to the Activity Programme Manager and will be a key member of COAT's SQA Centre.

Applicants must be highly organised and have a passion for the outdoors and an evidenced ability of working with staff, volunteers and/or trainees to deliver practical conservation activities. Experience of upland path construction and the delivery of training and assessments is highly desirable.

A full job description and application form is available from the Activity Programme Manager, Tom Wallace, via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

An insight into the work of a COAT trainer can be seen here: www.themountainsandthepeople.org.uk/training

Applications should be returned electronically to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by no later than midday Friday 4th November 2016.

Interviews will be held during week commencing 14th November. Please note that CVs will not be accepted as a form of application.

Lauder statue and viewpoint site in Glenbranter to be improved by National Park conservation bodies

Friday, September 23 2016

THE path to a stunning viewpoint and statue in Glenbranter built to honour John Lauder, the son of famous Scottish entertainer Harry Lauder, is being upgraded in the run up to the 100th anniversary of his death in World War 1.

This is the first phase of a joint project by two leading conservation charities in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park with the support of Forestry Commission Scotland and the local landowner, John Montgomery that will celebrate the Lauder family connections with Cowal.

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the park, is leading the project with the first phase involving replacing rotting timber steps with a stone path. The work will be carried out by trainees of the Mountains and the People project, set up last year by the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust to work on landscapes throughout Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and The Cairngorms National Parks. Timber and safety railings will be donated by the Forestry Commission Scotland.

This phase of the project has been scheduled to be completed ahead of the 100th anniversary of John Lauder's death aged 25 on December 28, 2016. This occurred while he was on duty in France during World War I, serving as 2nd Lieutenant of the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Various accounts have been given of how he met his demise, which was reported to Harry while he was appearing in a successful revue called 'Three Cheers' at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London in early 2017. John's final note home had arrived only hours before.

Harry Lauder and his family moved to Dunoon in 1908, buying Gerhallow House and changing the name to Laudervale four years later. John continued to be based predominantly in London, but would travel to Dunoon whenever he was able and regarded it as a peaceful refuge from city life.

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: "We are delighted to be co-ordinating this project to recognise the Lauder connection with Cowal and Glenbranter in particular, especially with such a milestone occasion coming up at the end of this year. We are pleased we have been able to raise the funds to support it through the Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme, which continues to go from strength to strength with the support of local businesses. We are also extremely grateful to the Mountains and the People Project team and the local Forestry Commission Scotland staff based at Glenbranter for their great support with this initial phase of work."

Tom Wallace, Activity Programme Manager for the Mountains the People project, added: "This is something that our trainees are looking forward to getting their teeth into and helping visitors to the local area recognise a man who fought for his country during a time of conflict. Our thanks go to everybody who has enabled us to get involved in this project and carry out the work to the extent that we are planning to. We are certain we will be able to do justice to this iconic site."

Future plans include site interpretation and improving advance signing as the site is currently by-passed by visitors. Proposals for a wider 'Harry Lauder's Roaming in the Gloaming of Cowal' initiative are also currently being worked up to showcase the area and are subject to securing various grants.