Since I moved to Stirling, Loch Katrine is one of my favourite places to take people looking for a real taste of the Scotland they’ve heard so much about!
The route to Katrine was enough to make me fall in love with the country and it’s not hard to find despite being so hidden away. Take a sharp left after driving through Callander and stay on that road until it stops. The road winds up and down, climbing a little in height, passing Loch Venachar, and amazing as it is, (sometimes close enough that you’ll feel like you’re on the water!) keep on driving deep into the Trossachs.
Two times out of my three visits, we’ve played some Scottish folk artists like Lau or Rura loudly the second we drove over the national park’s border to really bump up the experience. It’s something quite special to hear music being played at its origin (although that said, the drive back has always been a free-for-all. We’ve had everything from Simon & Garfunkel to S Club 7 to the electric swing deities Caravan Palace).
|Chloe and Kiran who came to see me in February 2013.
© Kiran Hayre
The southern end of the loch includes a tea room, a souvenir shop and a place to rent out bicycles (using the excellent pun, Katrine Wheelz) which is far more than you expect when you consider it’s a lake you aren’t permitted to swim in. Lochs can be extremely dangerous as they can get very deep very fast and the vast change in temperature that causes can kill, so it’s important to check before you dive in.
On a nice sunny day (which do exist in Scotland, despite what you may have heard!), the car park can be near to bursting with tourists and families on days out.
|Off from the track is the Glen Finglas Water Works, opened by Princess Margaret in 1958.
Just up the stairs is a very ominous tunnel we’ve had a great time peering into.
© Kiran Hayre
I highly recommend taking a walk, even if it’s only up to the first incline. It feels deceptively small and enclosed once you’re on the track but Katrine is a whopping eight miles long. The furthest around I’ve been so far is only about a mile and a half north of the southern tip. We met part of the Strathyre Forest and the most colossal conifer trees I have ever seen in my life (foolishly, I was camera-less). I could barely comprehend their existence in the 21st century because their sheer size could only mean that they were meant for dinosaurs. I can’t wait to go back because I know I’ll discover something else as equally extraordinary further round the bends! (Edit: I totally went back with a camera.)