Monday, 19 September 2011

Romantic 'Steamship Sir Walter Scott'

Steamship Sir Walter Scott
One of my favourite beauty spots in the west of Scotland is Loch Katrine, situated in Scotland’s first National Park, near Callander and Aberfoyle. The loch was mentioned by the famous Scottish writer, Sir Walter Scott, in his ‘Lady of the Lake’ poem of 1810. And visitors can sail on that loch today, on the steamship of his name.

The Sir Walter Scott steamship has been sailing on Loch Katrine for over 100 years and still offers visitors a gentle cruise along the tranquil water. There is no more peaceful way to enjoy the scenery, with the backdrop of green hills typical of this lovely part of Scotland. Sir Walter Scott described the loch in his poem as: “The summer dawns, reflected hue, the purple changed Loch Katrine blue.” It is exactly the same view today, as the steamship begins its sails from the wooden Trossachs Pier at the foot of the loch.

The Trossachs
Loch Katrine’s name means ‘a highland robber’, from the Gaelic Cateran, and it is right in the heart of Clan MacGregor country. The most famous member of the clan was Rob Roy MacGregor whose birthplace, Glengyle, is at the head of the loch. He was immortalised in print and film as a kind of highland hero. Rob Roy was born near the end of the Scottish Clan system and opposed the titled, powerful land owners and law makers who finally dismantled the old ways.

The little steamship was built by Wm Denny and Bros Ltd at Dumbarton on the River Clyde, and was launched in 1899. It is the last screw-driven steamship still in service on Scottish inland waters. Usually there is a crew of five onboard: the captain, mate, engineer, stoker and deckhand, and the ship is licensed to carry 320 passengers.
The steamship still retains the original steam engine which runs on smokeless fuel. This is necessary to maintain the purity of the water in the loch. There would be too much danger of oil spillage if it were ever converted to diesel, which would be an unthinkable risk to the loch which ultimately supplies water to Glasgow. It has been the source of the water supply for the city since 1859. It is still fed by the crystal clear mountain streams as it was in Victorian times when the steamer first sailed.
Boarding the Steamship
Loch Katrine is almost ten miles long and just over one mile wide and the steamship sails as far as Stronachlachar. The scenery is beautiful, with majestic mountains and small islands, woodland and wildlife. In addition to the steamship, visitors can walk or cycle along the path by the loch, or climb to the top of Ben A’an to watch the Sir Walter Scott chug its way along the peaceful loch just as it did in Victorian days.



Julie Eberhart Painter said...

That's one of our favorite parts of your country. Sir Walter Scott is one of your most readable, talented poets and writers. We feel especially close to his perfectly executed poem, The Masacre of Glencoe. Maybe you could report on that in the near future. The whole story is contained in the poem itself.

Anne Gallagher said...

What a beautiful place. Someday I'll get over to your side of the pond and take in all the delights.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Julie - thanks for your comment. It is a lovely part of the country. Glencoe (the place) has such a melancholy air as though you can feel the spirits of those people.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hello Anne - thanks for commenting. There are a lot of lovely places for you to see - hope you manage it one day!

Allison said...

That looks like an absolutely beautiful spot. Scotland has always intrigued me and now I'm too old to come over and see it. Sigh!!!

Sherry said...

I really enjoyed reading this. My ancestors are from Scotland and Ireland. We plan to visit both in 2014. Thank you for sharing!
-Sherry Foley

Teresa Ashby said...

Lovely post - I enjoyed this. It looks so beautiful and is somewhere I would love to visit one day.

Vikki said...

Looks so peaceful- you forget how pretty so much of our country is!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Allison - it's such a shame you can't get over now. Hopefully, you can enjoy some of it through the blog now and then!

Hello Sherry - thanks for visiting. Hope you get to see some of the best parts!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hello Teresa - thank you. You should have a wee break up in Scotland some time!

Hello Vikki- absolutely!