Literary Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

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Smollett Monument (1774) in Renton

The popularity of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs increased throughout the 19th century with improved transport, especially the new-fangled railways and steamers. Small wonder that, along with crowds, a whole range of literary figures made their way there: Charles Dickens in 1841, George Eliot in 1845, Hans Christian Anderson in 1847 and many more – and Jules Verne (visiting in 1859) was even inspired later to write a very curious Highland novel about a group of miners founding a settlement under Loch Katrine! (It was re-published in translation as ‘The Underground City’ in 2005.)

Poets, too, came to be inspired. Gerard Manley Hopkins was a brilliant scholar who became a priest. He worked in several parts of the country, including Glasgow in 1881. Around this time he probably visited Loch Lomond and saw the foaming burn that falls steeply from the ‘hanging valley’ of Glen Arklet to reach Loch Lomond at Inversnaid. This became the name of his famous poem containing the well-known lines – the very watch-word of the conservation movement -

‘What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness ? 
Let them be left,

O let them be left, wildness and wet ;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.’

For further information on Loch Lomond literary connections, great and small, see this blog by Louis Stott.