By Craig Neil
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Loch Katrine is a freshwater loch situated in the heart of the Trossachs national park within the county of Perthshire.
This famous body of water is 8 miles long and 1 mile wide, and in addition to being a popular destination for local day-trippers it is frequently visited by tourists due to its wide range of facilities.
Loch Katrine features a superb cycle and walking path on its northern side, an excellent visitor centre, and daily pleasure cruises from Trossachs Pier on its southern end to Stronachlachar at its northern end.
|Opening Hours:||Loch Katrine is open 24/7, 365 days a year.
Cruises operate daily from Trossachs Pier and Stronachlachar Pier.
45-minute circular cruise: departs at 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 1.15 pm and 2.15 pm.
1-hour circular cruise: departs at 1 pm, 2.30 pm and 4 pm.
2-hour return cruise: departs at 10.30 am and 3.15 pm.
|Admission Price:||Loch Katrine is free to visit.
|Parking:||There are paid car parks at Trossachs Pier (cash and card) and Stronachlachar Pier (cash only).
Motorhomes overnight parking with services: £25
Motorhomes overnight parking without services: £10
|Facilities:||Trossachs Pier - Cafe, gift shop, toilets, paid car park, electric car charging, Wi-Fi at the visitor centre, cycle hire, eco-lodges, pleasure cruises, disabled access at the loch (not on cruise boats).
Stronachlachar Pier - Cafe, toilets, car park.
1: Loch Katrine sees far fewer tourists compared to Loch Lomond, making it the preferred destination for visitors looking for peace and quiet.
Although the Trossachs Pier visitor centre gets rather busy due to it being the departure point for boat cruises, the remainder of the loch is much quieter, especially towards the northern end around Glengyle.
2: The boat cruises are a fantastic way to spend an afternoon (or morning) at Loch Katrine. Boat trips range from 45-minute and 1-hour circular sailings to 2-hour cruises. It is also possible to hire a boat on a private charter.
One of the most popular ways to cruise Loch Katrine is to take a cruise from Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar Pier, and then cycle back. Note that this sailing must be booked in advance.
3: The single-track road that follows the eastern shoreline offers unparalleled views of the loch. This road is straightforward to navigate and is relatively flat, with very little traffic and lots of viewpoints to stop and enjoy the scenery.
The beginner-friendly cycle route from Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar and back is approximately 26 miles in length.
1: Loch Katrine is one of the few outdoors places in Scotland where I recommend not taking your own food.
The cafe at the Trossachs Pier visitor centre serves delicious (and reasonably priced) food and is a great place to stop for lunch due to the outdoor terrace which offers great views of the loch.
There’s another good cafe at Stronachlachar and there are refreshments available on the cruise boats as well.
2: To really make the most of Loch Katrine you have to cycle around it. The return route to Stronachlachar is a foot-aching 26 miles so a bike is almost a necessity.
There’s a bike hire shop at the Trossachs Pier visitor centre (Katrine Wheelz) which has standard mountain bikes as well as electric bikes and even tandems. Book in advance at Katrine Wheelz or phone 01877 376366.
3: There are a couple of options for visitors that want to stay overnight at Loch Katrine. The first is to pitch a motorhome in the hardstanding areas at Trossachs Pier and Stronachlachar Pier.
Both have electricity and water hookups, but only Stronachlachar has lochside views. Pitches are £25 per night, plus £5 to use the shower and toilet facilities.
The second option is to book an eco-lodge at Trossachs Pier. Lodges sleep 2-4 people, have optional en-suite facilities and a kitchenette, underfloor heating, and outside decking. See the official Loch Katrine website for the latest prices.
The Trossachs National Park is one of Scotland’s most popular leisure destinations, not just for tourists but also for locals from the central belt, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.
This stunning region of the Southern Highlands is home to many of Scotland’s best-loved outdoor attractions, with mountains like Ben Lomond and Ben A’an offering stunning views at every step and lochs such as Lomond and Katrine providing a great mix of watersports and cycle routes.
While Loch Lomond welcomes the majority of visitors to the Trossachs, Loch Katrine isn’t far behind. At 8 by 1 miles it may not have the size of Lomond but it more than makes up for that shortcoming with excellent visitor facilities, fewer tourists, and one of the country’s best boat cruises.
Getting there from either Glasgow or Edinburgh is a simple affair with a drive from the capital taking around one and a half hours and Scotland’s largest city taking just over an hour.
Those timings are for the main visitor centre at Trossachs Pier which lies at the southern end of Katrine, but there’s another car park at Stronachlachar on the loch’s northwest corner.
Both have their pros and cons but the majority of visitors tend to head to Trossachs Pier as it has the best facilities.
Once at the large (paid) car park at the Trossachs Pier visitor centre you’ll find a hardstanding area for motorhomes, a gift shop, the cruise departure point, a large cafe, bike hire, and public toilets and showers.
The winding tarmac road that runs beneath the Steamship Cafe follows the shoreline of Loch Katrine for around 13 miles to its northern end before doubling back on the western side to Stronachlachar.
This pier is much smaller but even so, it has a picnic area, a cafe, and ample parking in addition to the ferry jetty.
It’s also (in my opinion) the more scenic of the two piers with an open view of the loch and a much nicer view of the surrounding mountains.
Loch Katrine offers more than enough activities to keep families entertained for a full day, but in my opinion the best way to enjoy the loch is to take a boat cruise along it and then cycle back.
If you don’t have a bike, Katrine Wheelz at the Trossachs Pier hire out bikes for short rides through to all-day adventures, with prices starting at £15 for an hour to £30 for all-day hire.
If you’re feeling peckish before setting out I thoroughly recommend heading to the Steamship Cafe and grabbing a coffee and a sandwich, especially if it’s a warm day when you can make use of the terrace seating area.
From there you’ll have gorgeous views across the loch, and if you time it right you can watch the cruise boats sailing in and out which is especially enjoyable if the historic steamship Sir Walter Scott is in operation.
Heading back to the car park you’ll find a well-stocked gift shop which has guidebooks, maps and souvenirs, while to the side there’s a parking area for motorhomes, electric car charging points, and a public toilet/shower block.
There’s also a ticket office to book boat cruises, which is a must-do for cyclists.
Cruises depart Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar twice a day (10.30 am and 3.15 am) and take around an hour, so visitors can carry their bikes onto the boat, sit back and watch the scenery glide by, hop off at Stronachlachar, and then cycle around the east road back to Trossachs Pier.
This road is drop-dead gorgeous at every point and offers one of the nicest cycle routes in the Trossachs, passing through heather-covered moorland and dense woodland along its 13-mile length.
The majority of the road is in excellent condition and is level with few inclines and has barely any traffic, so if you have children with you they should be able to bomb along beside you without a problem.
As far as time to complete the route, I can confirm (as a fairly unfit person) that a slow and steady pace takes around 2 hours, but as there are so many incredible viewpoints I guarantee you’ll add at least another hour to that.
When you approach the Trossachs Pier take note of the landward side as there are eco-lodges that can be booked for overnight accommodation.
These glamping pods aren’t usually my cup of tea but I have no problem recommending the ones at Loch Katrine as they’re very well equipped and have good views over the water.
I had the pleasure of staying in one a couple of years ago and was amazed to find it had a wee kitchen area, an en-suite bathroom, and a wooden deck that was a wonderful place to watch the sunset.
Finally, for those of you with motorhomes, there are hardstanding areas at both piers. Reservations can be made online via the official Loch Katrine website.
Discover more lochs to visit in Scotland with: The Best Lochs in Scotland – The Ultimate Visitor Guide.
Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:
Loch Lomond North/The Trossachs – OL 39/OL 46 Explorer.
Loch Lomond & Inveraray/Stirling & The Trossachs – 56/57 Landranger.
OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
Things to do nearby
Trossachs Pier. Address: Loch Katrine, Callander FK17 8HZ. Distance: 0 miles. Trossachs Pier is the most-visited place on Loch Katrine due to the pier which is the departure point for pleasure cruises.
Another boat cruise departure point is located at the northwest end of Loch Katrine at Stronachlachaer.
Loch Lomond. Address: Ben Lomond Way, Balloch, G83 8QL. Distance: 26 miles. Loch Lomond is one of the most famous outdoor attractions in Scotland.
The loch has a surface area of 25.5 square miles and features a number of islands at its southern end. There are many places to explore Loch Lomond but two of the most popular points are Balloch to the south and Balmaha to the southeast.
Ben Lomond. Address: Stirling, FK8 3TR. Distance: 28 miles (by road). Ben Lomond is a 3,200-foot mountain (Munro) situated between Lochs Katrine and Lomond. The mountain is a popular destination for hill walkers due to its proximity to Glasgow.
Bracklinn Falls. Address: Bracklin Road, Callander, FK17 8EP. Distance: 10.6 miles. The Bracklinn Falls are a series of waterfalls on the Keltie Water, located 1 mile east of Callander.
The falls can be reached by a circular trail that follows the waterfalls from Callander to the point where the river crosses the Highland Boundary Fault.
Inchmahome Priory. Address: Boatshed, Port of Menteith, By Kippen, Stirling, FK8 3RA. Distance: 15.8 miles. Inchmahome Priory is a 13th-century monastery located in the middle of the Lake of Menteith.
Access to the ruins is possible via boat tours operated by Historic Environment Scotland. In addition to the monastery, Inchmahome Island is also home to breeding pairs of wildfowl and has an abundance of wildflowers.
Frequently asked questions
Can you walk around Loch Katrine?
It is possible to walk around the majority of Loch Katrine on a road that starts at the Trossachs Pier visitor centre.
This road continues along the east side of the loch to the far northern end before heading back along the west side of the loch past Stronachlachar.
A minor single-track road then continues on to Glasahoile, after which progress is impeded by the Allt Glasahoile river.
The route from Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar is 13 miles. Instead of returning on the same road, the majority of walkers and cyclists book a pleasure cruise from Stronachlachar.
Why is Loch Katrine famous?
Loch Katrine was made famous by Sir Walter Scott’s renowned poem ‘The Lady of The Lake’. This poem kick-started the romanticised perception of the Scottish Highlands which in turn led to the beginnings of tourism in the country.
Another reason why Loch Katrine is famous is the fact that it was once the home of the outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor who was born in 1671 at the western end of the loch.
How long does it take to cycle around Loch Katrine?
The round trip on bicycle from Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar is 26 miles (42 km). This route takes an average of 3-4 hours to complete.
An alternative route continues past Stronachlachar to the B829, past Loch Ard to Aberfoyle, and north to Trossachs Pier. This route is 37 miles (60 km) and takes around 6-7 hours to complete.
Can you kayak on Loch Katrine?
It is possible to kayak on Loch Katrine, with some restrictions.
There is a launch point at Trossachs Pier, but due to the boat cruises, kayaks are not allowed to launch until 5 pm.
There are no restrictions with launching kayaks at the Stronachlachar Pier.