Tourism Development

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Aberfoyle StationIn the period just before WWII, another phenomenon had impacted on the park. The 1930s in particular were notable for an enthusiasm for ‘fresh air and exercise’ and cycling and walking clubs were especially popular. It was the age of the hiker and hosteller. At the same time, the industrial depression afflicting the Clydeside towns meant that many could barely afford to take public transport further than Arrochar and Tarbet station on the West Highland Line. After a weekend climbing in the ‘Arrochar Alps’ (the name invented by Dumbarton-born author and climber Ben Humble), the outdoor enthusiasts made their way south. Just before the war the LNER even ran a special Sunday evening train for the befit of homeward bound climbers.

An early poster for the 'Maid of the Loch'As for railways, Callander and Aberfoyle are now without rail connections – though the West Highland Line continues to offer those peerless views of the sea-lochs and Ben Lomond.  The Maid of the Loch, originally built by British Railways in 1953, and the last of the Loch Lomond steamers, ran her last season in 198, though hopes are high that she may sail again. (She is currently a static exhibit at Balloch.)

However, Loch Katrine still has its cruises. And Loch Lomond has a burgeoning  water bus service in addition to a wide range of loch cruising vessels departing from the loch-side communities. And there are no more private lands and access issues with recalcitrant land-owners of the kind that sometimes faced early travellers. Instead, a network of waymarked walking and cycle routes open up the landscape for all. Perhaps the most famous of these is the West Highland Way, opened in 1980, and running down the east side of Loch Lomond. Today, thanks to the water bus service, it is possible to walk a length of the way, for example, Inversnaid to Rowardennan, using the ferry connections to return to depart and return to, for example, Tarbet.