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

News

Volunteers help to open up views of Loch Lomond as part of special Make a Difference Day event

Wednesday, October 18 2017

Volunteers taking part in the latest ‘Make a Difference Day’, organised by Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent and conservation and heritage charity for the National Park, helped to remove trees and shrubs to open up scenic views of Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond along a stretch of the busy A82 tourist route.

 

A group of 30 volunteers travelled to Inverbeg, just north of Luss, to remove several hundred metres of overgrown plants and shrubs from the side of the road, giving motorists, cyclists and walkers clear views of Loch Lomond. Also, part of the day was a litter clearance exercise, which resulted in dozens of bags of rubbish being collected from litter strewn laybys and neighbouring areas beside the A82. This was part of the Friends’ ‘Windows on the Loch’ project, which aims to improve views of Loch Lomond along the busy A82 tourist route.

 

The volunteers came from a variety of walks of life including Luss Estates, the Department for International Development and Scottish Water as well as motivated individuals who volunteer regularly with the Friends and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority. The nearby Inn on Loch Lomond Hotel also provided shelter and complimentary lunch for the volunteers.

 

The event was the latest Make a Difference Day to be led by the Friends, and builds on the efforts made by the conservation and heritage charity in recent years with funding support from the National Park Authority to remove stretches of the Loch Lomond ‘tree tunnel’ which for years effectively meant there were no views of Loch Lomond along the entire twenty mile stretch of the A82 between Duck Bay, near Balloch and Tarbet.

 

In recent years other Make a Difference Days have involved litter and rhododendron clearance and path improvements works at different locations around the National Park with volunteers and corporate bodies helping to protect the special landscapes of the National Park.

Volunteers who took part on the day

 

Friends Vice-Chairman John Urquhart, who was among the volunteers who took part on the day, said: “Anybody passing this area of Loch Lomond now has a much better view of its natural beauty, and it is all down to the efforts of the volunteers, who turned out in force to ensure that this event was a great success. We even noticed passing motorists stopping in laybys to have pictures taken against the new backdrop!

 

“We were delighted with the response we had to Make a Difference Day, especially at a time of year when the weather can be so unpredictable. Fortunately, we had the elements on our side this time around, and with the hard work of so many people to open up views of the loch and Ben Lomond has made a real difference.”

Volunteers get to work

 

Niall Colquhoun, owner of the Inn on Loch Lomond, added: “We were very pleased to support the Friends and the volunteers on the day, helping the hard workers to enjoy a relaxed lunch in between their spells of unstinting efforts. The improved views of Loch Lomond from the A82 has already been positively commented on by some of our visitors and I am delighted with what has been achieved by the volunteers.”

Friends' response to Herald article

Tuesday, October 17 2017

The below letter has been sent to the Herald in response to their front-page article of Monday, October 16 2017.

Dear Sir/Madam,

The not so ''Bonnie Banks''

I was interested to read your front page article highlighting the stark claims by environmental charity Keep Scotland Tidy that ''Scotland is being choked by soaring levels of litter and filth which is creating an image of a country gripped by decline and neglect with rubbish and fly-tipping standards at their lowest level in a decade'' (''One million Scots living in dirty towns and streets'', The Herald, October 16).

This is a damning, but fairly accurate, indictment of the current situation which equally applies to popular beauty spots such as Loch Lomond and the busy A82 route corridor, as well as the communities in urban and rural Scotland referred to in the article. It also undermines Scotland's recent accolade as the most beautiful country in the world as voted by Rough Guide readers. How long before we are voted as one of the dirtiest countries in the western world which is a real possibility if we continue on the current trajectory?

In response to the unsatisfactory state of affairs on Loch Lomondside we organised a successful 'Make a Difference Day' last week which saw 30 volunteers from a wide variety of walks of life getting their sleeves rolled up and removing dozens of bags of litter strewn beside laybys on the Bonnie Banks as well as opening up views of Ben Lomond. We have found that direct action of this nature is often far more productive than making fruitless representations to public agencies appealing with them to face up to their responsibilities and to address the situation in a consistent and coordinated basis.

Sadly, many public agencies have become more skilled in passing the buck and hiding behind ''PR speak' rather than admitting there is a litter problem that needs concerted action with their involvement and resource commitments. To be fair, the National Park Authority has recently acknowledged the deteriorating situation with regards to litter and is making attempts to bring local partners together to try and improve the situation. The Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs has also called for a ''Litter Summit'' to be held soon involving senior representatives from relevant agencies and local community councils and businesses as the current unsatisfactory situation cannot be allowed to continue.

No doubt as part of the latest annual round of local authority budget saving reviews throughout Scotland the option of cutting back further on litter and cleansing services will feature high on the agenda. Based on the compelling evidence from the recent extensive Keep Scotland Beautiful surveys this would be a major mistake and would simply accelerate the further erosion of Scotland's environmental credentials and undermine the economic well-being of the country which is increasingly dependent on a successful tourist industry.

Yours faithfully,

James Fraser

Chairman

Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

Carrochan

Carrochan Road

Balloch

G83 8EG

 

Latest Loch Lomond Passenger Cruise Vessel Launched

Tuesday, October 10 2017

The newest vessel to carry passengers on Loch Lomond has been launched, giving visitors to Scotland’s first National Park more opportunities to experience its natural beauty.

 

The MV Lomond Monarch completed the final leg of an epic journey from Loch Ness to arrive at her new home at the beginning of July, and was launched at a stylish reception at Tarbet Pier attended by dignitaries and officials on Friday, October 6.

 

Weighing 50 tonnes, the vessel measures 16.5m long, 5.3m wide and 6m high and will carry up to 120passengers. This brings the Cruise Loch Lomond fleet of boats up to eight with a total passenger capacity of 700 passengers to cater for a diverse range of tour programmes for UK and international visitors featuring Loch Lomond.

Stuart Cordner (left) and James Fraser (second left) launch MV Lomond Monarch, alongside Cruise Loch Lomond directors Fred Moore and Marie Cordner.

 

Stuart Cordner, Director of Cruise Loch Lomond, stated: “We are delighted with the latest addition to the fleet offering increased capacity for travel trade and flexibility for private and corporate functions on board.’’

 

He added: ’’The company has experienced a marked increase in visitor numbers in the last 12 months both from the domestic and overseas visitor markets which can be attributed to factors such as favourable exchange rates, successful overseas and destination marketing campaigns as well as an increase in flight connections to Scotland. Further investment in the tourism product offering and new collaborations with local businesses have also helped to make 2017 a positive year to date.”

 

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, who launched the MV Lomond Monarch, said: “I am pleased to welcome this latest addition to the Cruise Loch Lomond fleet of passenger boats and wish this long established family business every success as they continue to expand and innovate to meet of increasingly discerning visitors to Loch Lomond.’’

 

‘’Loch Lomond is facing greater competition from other destinations and it is important that local business continue to invest in product innovation. Cruise Loch Lomond has done just this on a consistent basis over the years and this latest addition to their cruising fleet will ensure they are well positioned to grow their flourishing business.”

New Friends promotion at Loch Katrine to help fund lochside recreational projects

Wednesday, September 6 2017

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for Scotland’s first National Park, has stepped up efforts to promote its ‘making a difference’ agenda with the siting of three new attractive promotional posters at one of the National Park’s most scenic beauty spots.

 

With the support of the Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust, the Friends have installed three attractive promotional posters at busy visitor hubs on the shores of Loch Katrine. Two of the posters promoting the work of the Friends are now installed on the attractive pagoda beside Trossachs Pier and a third is on the noticeboard at Stronachlachar. Membership leaflets are also being distributed at shore outlets and on the steamship.

 

A donation post has also been installed following the success of the ones located at Tom Weir’s Rest in Balmaha last year. Any funds raised will be used for heritage and recreational projects at Loch Katrine.

Gordon Allan and James Fraser beside one of the new promotional posters at Loch Katrine with the Steamship Sir Walter Scott in the background.

 

Commenting on the Friends’ awareness raising project Gordon Allan, Managing Director of the Steamship Company, said: “We have worked closely with the Friends over the years and they have done a great job supporting worthwhile projects through the Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme which we have been pleased to support.”

 

Friends Chairman, James Fraser added: “These new displays will be seen by the 300,000 visitors who visit Loch Katrine each year and hopefully will raise awareness of the Friends as well as generating much needed funds for projects around the loch which will increase visitor enjoyment of this special place.”

 

For more information on the Friends, call 01389 727761, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.lochlomondtrossachs.org.uk

Funding boost for National Park mountain path repairs

Wednesday, September 6 2017

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for Scotland’s first National Park, is supporting efforts to improve mountain paths in both of Scotland’s National Parks with a pledge of £20,000 over 4 years.

The Mountains and the People project is led by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland working in partnership with Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and both Loch Lomond & Trossachs and Cairngorms National Park Authorities.  The project was established in June 2015 and has already undertaken a raft mountain path upgrading works in both National Parks. With a team consisting of both staff and volunteers, its work has included upgrading well used mountain paths in the Trossachs as well as recent improvements at the Lauder Monument path at Invernoaden in Cowal, which has seen the existing wooden steps replaced by sturdier stone ones.

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 out donations on overnight accommodation and menu items in cafes and restaurants.

Mountains and the People trainees at work. PHOTO BY MARTIN SHIELDS.

 

James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends said:’’ We are delighted to be supporting 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 heavily used paths throughout both National Parks.

“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 is excited by the possibilities that lie ahead for the Mountains and The People initiative which includes a range of opportunities to involve more people directly in caring for mountain paths in Scotland’s National Parks.

He said: “Already, within our first two years, we have seen the project grow into a thriving initiative which promises to deliver much more during its remaining period. Our capital and activity programmes have delivered over £2m of works to date and we have several projects in the pipeline. However, with over £3m work to complete in the coming three years that is where support from organisations like the Friends come in.

“We very much appreciate this generous annual donation from the Friends and thank them most sincerely for their support. We already have a strong relationship with the Friends – we even inherited our Balloch office from them when we were set up. It is vital that groups like these work together for the future of the National Park and we look forward to continuing this relationship in the years to come.”

£4,000 raised by donation posts at tribute site to iconic Scottish broadcaster and mountaineer

Friday, August 25 2017

Members of the public have donated an impressive £4,000 in a 15-month period to help maintain the very popular Tom Weir’s Rest site in Balmaha on Loch Lomondside.

 

Generous visitors to the Loch Lomondside picnic area, which has hosted the statue of the broadcaster known as Scotland’s most-loved mountain man since December 2014, have been placing money in the three posts since May 2016 when they were put in place. As well as the statue, the site also plays host to a mountain garden, which was officially opened at the same time as the donation posts arrived.

 

The fantastic sum raised is enough to ensure that Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park, can meet the annual costs of site insurance and maintenance, along with any other necessary work needed to keep the site beautiful and secure.

The Tom Weir Statue at Balmaha

 

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “When we put the donation posts in place at the Tom Weir’s Rest site, we had no specific fundraising targets in mind, but to raise £4,000 in 15 months is hugely encouraging and speaks volumes about the generosity of visitors to this site. It also shows just what high regard Tom was held in, with so many people keen to ensure that his statue remains a legacy for years to come.

 

“We would like to thank all those who have donated, who no doubt come from all corners of the globe, and assure them that every penny they have contributed will be used for the upkeep of this special site in Scotland’s first National Park.”

One of the donation posts in place at Balmaha

 

Sandy Fraser, owner and proprietor of the neighbouring Oak Tree Inn, has been responsible for the maintenance of the statue site since it was first established.

 

He said: “It has been a pleasure, but no surprise, to see this statue site being so popular, and all those involved in the process of ensuring the site could become a reality are very grateful for the financial support given through these donation posts. Without the support of the public, it would be more difficult to maintain the site to a high standard, so huge thanks go to everybody who has contributed.”

 

Susan Taylor, Administrator of the Tom Weir Memorial Fund said:’’ We were worried about how we would maintain the site without our small band of volunteers having to organise endless fundraising events. However, our fears have been unfounded with the generosity of many visitors to the site clearly appreciating our efforts to provide a high quality statue and picnic site in memory of Tom on the banks of Loch Lomond for them to enjoy.’’

Children's play area upgrade planned for Crianlarich

Tuesday, August 8 2017

Plans for improving a popular children’s play area in the village of Crianlarich have taken a step forward with funding support from Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park area, and help from Stirling Council.

 

Strathfillan Community Development Trust is bidding to rebuild the facility for young residents and visitors to Crianlarich after the removal of its equipment by council chiefs in December 2016 following safety concerns. The facility had also been well used by younger visitors using the Youth Hostel next to the playpark in the village.

 

The Friends have now stepped in to provide £500 from funds raised from its Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme, which is assisted by more than 100 businesses all over the National Park. These include local businesses such as the Artisan Café, Portnellan Chalets, and Strathfillan Wigwams.  This is the fourth children’s play area in the National Park supported by the Friends in recent years.

 

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “Providing a good quality children’s play area is important to enrich the lives of youngsters either staying or visiting the popular tourist village of Crianlarich and we are pleased to be able to support the plans being progressed by Strathfillan Community Development Trust with the support of local businesses who are participating in  the Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme.”

 

Kelly Clapperton-Bates, Community Development Officer with Strathfillan Community Development Trust, added: “It was a blow to the village to lose the playpark equipment due to safety concerns but things are now starting to look hopeful with some new equipment being purchased by the Community Trust following kind donations from a number of local organisations, including Stirling Council, and this cash injection from the Friends is a major boost for our ambitions. It has not been an easy process to get this far and we have needed all the support we can get, and we very much appreciate the Friends’ assistance in this venture.”

Jared Bowers, Project Officer of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, presents the cheque for £500 to Kelly Clapperton-Bates of Strathfillan Community Development Trust.

 

For more information on the Friends of OUR park project, call 01389 727761, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.lochlomondtrossachs.org.uk

National Park charity’s major funding boost for one of Loch Lomond area’s biggest summer events

Thursday, July 20 2017

 

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park area, has contributed more than £1,000 towards the cost of an important new piece of equipment for use at Luss Highland Games.

 

At the recent 2017 event, charity Chairman James Fraser handed over a cheque for £1,125 to games athletics co-ordinator Bobby Lennox in the presence of Games chieftain and Friends Honorary President Sir Malcolm Colquhoun. This is due to be Sir Malcolm’s last year as Games Chieftain before he hands over the duty to his son Patrick Colquhoun, Younger of Luss. The money has gone towards the purchase of a new landing mat for the high jump event at the Games, with the old equipment needing replaced.

 

Funding for the initiative has come from the Friends of OUR park voluntary visitor giving scheme which involves local businesses which include several in the village of Luss. Major contributors in the area include the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, the Inn at Inverbeg and the Lodge on Loch Lomond.

 

The Friends have a regular presence at Luss Highland Games, which takes place in early July every year, and were on site again at what was a successful afternoon attended by thousands of residents and visitors to the Loch Lomondside village. The Games are held on Luss Estates Games Field with the support of Luss Estates.

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs (left), hands over the cheque to Bobby Lennox (centre) and Sir Malcolm Colquhoun.

 

Sir Malcolm Colquhoun said: “It is great to see such generosity from visitors contributing to the Friends of OUR park project being used to such great effect. Luss Highland Games is a fixture in many people’s calendars and it is important that it has the equipment needed to make it a safe and enjoyable day. The Friends’ gesture has certainly made a big contribution towards that.”

 

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “Supporting major events like this one is a very important aspect of our fundraising work and we are delighted to be able to support the Games in this way. Our grateful thanks are once again extended to all those who have made contributions to our pioneering Friends of OUR park project, as well as the many businesses in all parts of the National Park, including Luss, who make this happen.”

 

Bobby Lennox added: “We are delighted with this support from the Friends and wish to express our sincere thanks to them and all the businesses and donors who participate in the Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme. Running an event like this is not easy and we appreciate whatever support we can get, especially such an excellent sum of money as this one. The high jump participants also commented on how good it was to have a new landing mat to use. The weather has been kind to us for Luss Highland Games this year and we are already looking forward to next year.”

Funding boost for project showcasing red squirrels and their fight for survival in the National Park

Thursday, July 20 2017

 

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park area, has made a financial contribution towards a joint initiative with the National Park Authority to showcase red squirrels which are of one of the Park’s best-known wildlife species.

 

The story of red squirrels and the real threats facing their survival is highlighted in an attractive new interactive display at Balmaha Visitor Centre and is linked to a Squirrel Scurry Trail nearby where visitors can discover more about one of Scotland’s most favourite native animals.

 

Funding for the initiative has come from the Friends of OUR park voluntary visitor giving scheme which involves local businesses such as the Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha collecting donations from visitors for a range of conservation, heritage and access projects.

 

This is the fifth project to benefit from the Friends OUR park scheme in Balmaha in recent years and follows on from substantial funding contributions being made to the village green upgrade, the popular Tom Weir’s Rest picnic area and mountain garden, the purchase and siting of a public access defibrillator at the Village Shop and Conic Hill path improvements

 

Sandy Fraser, owner of the Oak Tree Inn said: “It is great to see thousands of visitors contributing so generously to a range of projects that are helping to improve amenities in the Balmaha area as well as increasing understanding and enjoyment of the area which is growing in popularity.’’

 

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, said: “We recognise the importance of supporting conservation and education projects such as this in the National Park. We are pleased to be partnering with the Park Authority to help introduce visitors to the red squirrel story at Balmaha Visitor Centre and along the associated squirrel trail which I am sure will have wide visitor appeal.’’

 

Charlotte Wallace, Volunteering, Education and Engagement Manager with the National Park Authority, said: “The red squirrel is an iconic native animal in Scotland and here in the National Park and we want to make sure that as many visitors and residents as possible know more about it and the importance of its protection from the non-native American grey squirrel.

 

“We are working with a number of partners and communities to improve the conditions for red squirrels across the National Park and we are pleased to receive funding support from the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs for this latest red squirrel initiative.’’

Arrochar Community Hydro Society

Wednesday, June 14 2017

The communities of Arrochar and Tarbet, and Luss and Arden, are going to be given the opportunity to be a part of a community hydro scheme. Local residents and renewable energy supporters nationwide will have the option of purchasing a stake in the scheme, from £250 to £100,000.

The 123kw hydro plant will be located above the village of Arrochar and will be a run of river scheme. The electricity generated will be sold onto the National Grid. Income generated will be conveted to the Community Development Trusts for ongoing projects and future community benefit with a proportion returned to members as share interest.

The Arrochar and Tarbet and Luss and Arden Development Trusts are working alongside Community Energy specialists Energy4All, Local Energy Scotland and Luss Estates to develop this project.

The Arrochar Community Hydro scheme was initially proposed by Luss Estates as a means to enable local Development Trusts to generate income to reinvest in their communities. The river and surrounding land on which the scheme will be developed is leased for a peppercorn rent by Luss Estates to Arrochar Community Hydro.

Luss Estates Chief Executive, Simon Miller, said: "Luss Estates is delighted to have initiated this scheme and to be able to support the Development Trusts in this project which will serve to generate income for the local communities in an environmentally friendly scheme. We have worked closely with both Development Trusts to bring the project to this stage and will continue to support them moving forward. Luss Estates is committed to supporting the local economy, communities and protecting our stunning natural environment and this project is an excellent example of this commitment."

Director of Arrochar and Tarbet Development Trust, Duncan MacLachlan has been working with other community members to bring a small hydro project to the area for a number of years now. He said: "It's great to see the hydro scheme is finally going ahead. The Arrochar Hydro concept results from two communities working in partnership - Arrochar and Tarbet and Luss and Arden Development Trusts. The scheme was offered a CARES loan in March 2015 and planning consent granted in July 2015. The scheme faced a number of challenges since inception, however with considerable help from Energy4All, Local Energy Scotland and Luss Estates we are now in the position to launch the share offer."

David McCowan of Luss and Arden Development Trust commented: "This project will create a sustainable financial base to benefit future generations within our communities."