Streams of visitors embarked at Balloch Pier Station (or got there by tram as that service survived till1928). They sailed up the loch – which had five paddle-steamers operating by the end of the 19th century - and landed at Inversnaid. They took a horse-drawn vehicle up the hill, past the old site of the garrison built to keep Rob Roy in order, along Loch Arklet but, significantly, not along the road to Aberfoyle.
Instead, they re-embarked at Stronachlachar, sailed down Loch Katrine, got back in a four-in-hand at the Trossachs pier, and boarded a train in Callander to return to, probably, Glasgow. Curiously, the coach-and-four connections between Inversnaid and Stronachlachar had the distinction of being the last regular horse-drawn public transport service when replaced by buses for the 1938 season! This was the classic Trossachs Tour – also done in reverse from Callander.
There were also variations – from Aberfoyle by way of the Dukes’ Pass to the Trossachs by coach, followed by the departure from the Trossachs Pier. This road (sometimes also called The Duke’s Road) was completed by the Duke of Montrose in 1882, around the same time as the railway arrived in Aberfoyle. It was a private toll road till it was upgraded and freed from tolls in the 1930s.
Visitors could, for example, also take the steamer up the loch to Tarbet, then return via steamer (or rail) from Arrochar – as the Clyde sea lochs were also interconnected by these regular passenger and mail-carrying steamer services.
Unavoidably, as the 20th century progressed, the ubiquitous motor car changed the pattern of how visitors flowed through the area. For example, the Rest and Be Thankful, that famous watershed, and gateway to today’s Argyll Forest Park, was reached by the military road-builders by 1748, and handed over to civic authorities by 1814 for maintenance. Johnson and Boswell, Thomas Pennant, the Wordsworths and even the delicate John Keats (see panel) all went over the high pass. But not until the late 1930s was the ‘new’ road built, cut into the slopes above the original way.