News

Bold Visitor Management Plans For The Trossachs

Artist impression of the reinstated Roderick Dhu Watch Tower (Above)

Local charities step in to lead efforts to tackle traffic chaos

An ambitious £600,000 Trossachs Visitor Management Project has been developed by two local heritage charities in the National Park:- the Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust and the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs - in partnership with Forestry and Land Scotland and with the support of local community groups, Police Scotland, the National Park, Stirling Council and Scottish Water.

A comprehensive package of visitor infrastructure improvements is planned and a number of planning applications have recently been lodged with the National Park to enable works to get underway in 2021 if funding is secured.

The partners are hopeful that a bid for £375,000 from the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, which is designed to help areas suffering from visitor pressure, will be successful. The outcome of the bid to the scheme administered by VisitScotland should be known by mid-December. Additional funding is being provided by the Steamship Trust, Forestry and Land Scotland, the Friends and local community hydro schemes.

James Fraser, CEO of the Steamship Trust and Chair of the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, who is coordinating the project said: “There is clearly an urgent need to relieve the chronic problems created by visitor pressures in the heart of the Trossachs and, in particular, traffic congestion caused by excessive road verge parking which is impacting adversely on the quality of life for local residents who regularly have problems going about their daily business safely.

“Our proposals aim to do just this in positive and sensitive ways that will also enhance the quality of the visitor experience in the popular Brig O’Turk/Ben A’an/Loch Katrine visitor corridor and encourage the dispersal of visitors to other parts of the Trossachs area where it is less busy.

We are delighted to have the strong backing of six local community groups and a range of other bodies and businesses who are keen to see some of the improvements in place for 2021 after a summer of chaos.’’

Surge of Visitors

It is planned to invest in visitor infrastructure improvements at Ben A’an Car Park, below the popular Ben A’an mountain path, and at the Trossachs Pier and Stronachlachar visitor hubs at either end of Loch Katrine, which is credited with being the birthplace of Scottish Tourism due to the writings of Sir Walter Scott and others in the early 1800s that led to the first surge of visitors to the Trossachs.

These three sites collectively now consistently have in excess of 200,000 visitors a year and there has been a marked growth in recent years and particularly following the mid-summer easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions that led to road closures and the introduction of temporary traffic regulation orders to control excessive and dangerous roadside verge parking.

                                                           Expanded car parks

The plans include well-designed expanded car parks with 110 additional spaces, improved disabled parking and bus drop-off and pick-up points across the three sites at Ben A’an, Trossachs Pier and Stronachlachar Pier; additional overnight campervan bays with hook up facilities, electric vehicle and bike charging points, public litter recycling points and water refill stations at the Trossachs Pier and Stronachlachar Pier visitor hubs; a new mobility hub and extended public toilets at Trossachs Pier to provide treble the current capacity and the reinstatement of the historic Roderick Dhu Watch Tower path and scenic lookout above Trossachs Pier Car Park.

The planned investment at these locations will be augmented by improved signing and information/orientation points at ‘spoke and hub’ locations around the long established 40 mile Trossachs Trail.

Commenting on the plans, local MSP Bruce Crawford said: “I am very supportive indeed of these well thought through practical proposals which have attracted support from a number of community and business groups as well as Police Scotland and other agencies. The areas in the vicinity of Ben A’an and Loch Katrine have found themselves under huge pressure from the sheer volume of visitor numbers over a long period, but the pressure has only increased over recent months as more and more people choose to staycation.

“I truly hope the Steamship Trust, the Friends and their partners are successful in securing funding as this kind of infrastructure improvement is badly required.”

 

Duff Christmas Tree Farm help protect Red Squirrels

Friends are delighted that Duff Christmas Tree Farm in Buchlyvie are making a donation for every tree sold!

The farm are giving 25p for every tree sold and the funds will go directly towards projects which will help protect the iconic red squirrels. Friends have regularly  reported on the threats to the animals from non-native grey squirrels and this funding initiative will help conservation work continue. 

There will also be collection canisters for customers to add further contributions if they wish.

 

 

 

Tourism in Meltdown

Fears of a £200m hit for tourism businesses in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

Tourism in meltdown as losses grow at an alarming rate

A prolonged lockdown caused by the corona virus pandemic could see at least £200 million wiped off the value of tourism in the National Park this year with the potential loss of at least a quarter of the tourism businesses and over 1,200 redundancies according to a former tourism chief for the area and current Chairman of a leading National Park charity.

The unprecedented lockdown has resulted in tourism revenues tumbling at an alarming rate in the National Park with over £100 million in losses racked up already, including valuable advance group bookings from both UK and international markets being cancelled for the whole year, according to James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland with over 4 million visitors a year generating spend of over £420 million and sustaining thousands of jobs directly and indirectly.

He warned even if the current restrictions are lifted in time for the peak summer months tourism businesses will have a slow recovery due to factors such as essential social distancing precautions still requiring to be in force and many visitors from important UK and overseas markets being reluctant to travel until an effective virus vaccine is in place. He estimates total losses could exceed £200 million by the end of the year with many businesses struggling to survive.

Mr Fraser, who is in regular contact with a  number of businesses in the National Park, said: ’’In the 40 years I have been involved in the tourist industry I have never witnessed a situation as bad as this and it is much worse than the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 that led to the shutdown of the countryside.

‘’In the past 6 weeks it has been upsetting to see so many well run predominantly family businesses, which have been built up with hard work over many years, in such a state of turmoil and fighting for their very existence through no fault of their own.

‘’Most businesses have gone from looking forward to what was shaping up to be a bumper year with good trading levels to a situation overnight with income generation falling to zero and with no end in sight.’’

He cited numerous examples of medium sized businesses already losing, on average, £1-2 million so far. Three cruise companies operating on the National Park lochs have lost over £4 million collectively. Hundreds of smaller tourist accommodation, catering and retail businesses and businesses in the supply chain such as tradesmen, laundries, bakers and butchers are also losing substantial sums.

Mr Fraser added: ’’The response to the growing financial crisis in the tourism sector from both the UK and Scottish Governments and local MSPs and MPS has been impressive and, following representations made locally and nationally, it is very encouraging to see some of the support packages being modified for the better.

‘’However, given the sheer scale of the downturn in tourism revenues, which no Government support scheme can fully cover, many businesses have been forced to take out very substantial loans as part of their fight for survival and it will take many years for them  to recover from what has been, and continues to be, a catastrophic situation here in the National Park and elsewhere with tourism so hugely important to the economy’’

In a recent report the OECD estimate declines of 45% to 70% in the international tourism economy in 2020, depending on the duration of the crisis and the speed with which tourism rebounds.

Spring/Summer Voice Magazine - Get it Here!

Usually, by this point in the year, the Friends team are mopping their brow after a busy few weeks of distributing the latest copy of Voice magazine to members and supporters across the National Park and far beyond. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, the lockdown was announced just as we took delivery of this years Spring/Summer edition and we have therefore been unable to get these delivered.

The good news is, we do have an online version for you to peruse, which as always, is packed with Park news, Friends updates and lots of lovely photos from around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs! (Please note that some of the 'diary dates' published may now be subject to change or indeed cancellation) 

The latest edition, as well as all back copies of Voice, can be found on the 'About Us' page. For ease, the link is here: 

http://www.lochlomondtrossachs.org.uk/the-voice

Enjoy!

May AGM Cancelled

Update on Friends Annual General Meeting scheduled for 19th May

Due to the current situation with coronavirus, we have taken the decision to cancel our AGM which had been due to take place on 19th May at Ross Priory. We are currently determining the most appropriate alternative arrangements to allow us to meet our obligations under the consitution.

Further details will follow in due course.

Volunteer Event Postponed

A message for all our volunteers:

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs have taken the decision to postpone our Make A Difference Day at Balmaha on 26th March, in line with recent government advice on social gatherings.

There are lots of worthwhile tasks for us to do there and we will be rescheduling the event as soon as it is safe and practical for us to do so - we hope you will still be able to volunteer your time to help us make a positive difference to this beautiful location.

All those who have signed up for the event will be contacted regarding the new date, as soon as possible.

In the meantime, stay safe and well.

Sunset Cruise 2020

We are delighted to share the date of our ever-popular annual Sunset Cruise!

On the evening of Wednesday 12th August, guests can once again enjoy a scenic cruise on Loch Lomond, complete with musical entertainment. Ticket prices remain at just £12.

For further information or to reserve tickets, please email: info@lochlomond trossachs.org.uk or call 01389 727761

Business Supporters

A variety of businesses in and around the National Park are already members of our Business Supporters scheme. For details on how to join, click here..

Help Us Make A Difference!

You are once again invited to Make a Difference in Scotland's first National Park!

Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs would love to welcome you, your company, friends and/or family to come along to one of our volunteer events in 2020.

Our 'Make a Difference' days are organuised to encourage everyone to come and volunteer for a day, meet new people and contribute to making the wider national park area an amazing place to experience

The schedule this year is as follows:

March 26th at Balmaha

May 21st at A82 Loch Lomond

Sept 24th at Strathyre/Loch Lubnaig

Oct 29th at Luss

For these events, we are partnering with the National Park Authority, The Oak Tree Inn, Forest Holidays and Luss Estates. Events will include activity such as cutting back overgrown vegetation and invasive non-native shrubs, litter picking/beach cleans, path and ditch clearing – all in beautiful surroundings!

At each location, a light lunch will be provided as well as any necessary tools and high vis jackets/gloves. Please wear comfortable outdoor clothing and appropriate footwear.

Please contact the Friends at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 01389 727761 if you or your family/organisation would like to come along or find out more.

VOLUNTEERS TACKLE INVASIVE RHODIES AT LAUDER MONUMENT SITE

A group of 17 volunteers recently helped to make a difference at the Lauder Monument at Invernoaden in Cowal with the removal of rhododendrons and access path improvements. This was part of the latest in a series of ‘Make a Difference Days’ organised by Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation charity covering the National Park.

Since a major restoration and improvement programme at the site was completed late last year the Lauder Monument has become a popular attraction with the new small car park regularly full. However, since then the path to the Monument eroded in places, a tree fell blocking the Monument access steps and invasive rhododendrons had grown considerably, blocking light to trees and shrubs in the woodland areas lining the path.

The Friends coordinated this latest volunteer event with support from the National Park Authority. Volunteers from SEPA, the National Park Authority and the Friends travelled from quite far afield to take part in this Make a Difference Day. They were joined by some local volunteers from the Strachur area and they all spent the day working together filling dips in the main access, clearing leaves from the steps leading to the Monument, removing a fallen tree, cutting back a substantial amount of ‘rhodies’ and tidying up around the Monument itself.

John Urquhart, Vice Chair of the charity said: “This was another very successful Make a Difference Day, demonstrating what can be achieved when we work together to improve special areas within the National Park.

It was great to see a healthy number of volunteers getting involved in this latest event and pulling together to make a difference at this important historic site which has proved to be very popular following a major programme of works completed by the Friends last year in the run up to the 102nd anniversary of the death of Captain John Lauder, the son of Sir Harry Lauder, on 28th December in France during WW1.”

Anyone wishing to get involved in future Make a Difference Days or helping to maintain the Lauder Monument site can get in touch with the Friends by calling 001389 727761 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.