A little over half a century later, towards the end of Victoria’s reign, how different things had become! Not just extended and upgraded old coaching inns, but new hotels had sprung up. For example, one modest hostelry was rebuilt to become the vast and imposing Trossachs Hotel – still a landmark today, though now a time-share business. Loch Katrine got its first steamer, Gypsy, by 1843 – though it was promptly sabotaged: sunk by the crew (probably) of the eight-oared galley Water Witch, who had hitherto had the monopoly on the loch! A replacement steamer, Rob Roy, was on the loch by 1846. Then the Sir Walter Scott came into service in 1900. It is still cruises Loch Katrine today.
Meanwhile, a network of steamer services had developed on Loch Lomond. The latter half of the 19th century also saw the railways expanding to meet the demands of tourism. The Trossachs were encircled – though no lines actually penetrated the very centre. Aberfoyle and Callander had become railheads. The North British Railway stated, immodestly, in a travellers guide in 1914 that the beauty of the area was such that it was ‘the most entrancing single day’s journey in the two hemispheres’.
The journey to which it was referring quickly was already world-famous as ‘The Trossachs Tour’. Inversnaid on the east bank of Loch Lomond had become a busy place. The Wordsworths had landed here in 1803. Thomas Cook took his first tour through by 1850. Here too Gerard Manley Hopkins, after his 1881 visit, wrote his poem with its rallying cry for even 21st-century conservationists ‘Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet’. But by his time, the transportation was coordinated and efficient.