Why Visit Loch Katrine?

A steamboat tour of Loch Katrine is one of the most popular excursions included in our immersion holidays.

The landscape is glorious – as is a trip on the 123-year-old steamer, the SS Sir Walter Scott.

This blog is about our visit to Loch Katrine – including the reasons we share this boat trip with L2 English users.

Read on for tips on planning your visit to Scotland!

Photo credits: All images on this page are by the author, with the exception of the top image: credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam, used with permission (and thanks!).
Visit Loch Katrine - Sir Walter Scott steamboat excursion
The SS Sir Walter Scott steamboat berthed at the Trossachs Pier at the east end of the loch.

But First, Why Not Loch Lomond?

Most tourists have the photogenic Loch Lomond at the top of their to-do list. As a result, it’s one of the most visited sites in Scotland.

Less well known are the other 21 lochs within the same National Park: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, which encompasses approximately 720 square miles (1,865 square kilometres).

This means that the WHOLE park has some of Scotland’s finest scenery, not just Loch Lomond.

With a bit of research – or a guide – you can find less touristic, equally scenic lochs, including this one – the beautiful, and uniquely pure Loch Katrine. 

Visit Loch Katrine from the SS Sir Walter Scott
View from the centre of Loch Katrine

The Other 21

If shops, a choice of restaurants, family entertainment and amenities is your thing, by all means, choose Loch Lomond.

However, if you can forego them in search of mirrored lochs that reflect the clouds, nature, to canoe/paddleboard around green islands and over whipped-up choppy waves, or witness visiting osprey swoop down for fish, do remember that you have a choice of 21 other magnificent lochs, in the Trossachs region alone.

(Incidentally, although Loch Lomond is the biggest, the whole of Scotland has 31,460 lochs or lochans (small lochs).  You truly can find magnificent lochs right across Scotland).

Visit Loch Katrine from the SS Sir Walter Scott
View from the centre of Loch Katrine

A Warm Welcome to Tourists

Each of the Trossachs lochs has hotels or cafes dotted around them to enjoy too.

A handy tip for travellers visiting Scotland is that it is OK to walk into such places with muddy boots or wet clothes (I’ve heard so many stories of people not daring to go in because they got dirty walking!).

Much of the Scottish rural economy is based on outdoor sports and activities.

(I’ve seen a whole family in wetsuits having lunch in a hotel). 

Untouched Scotland

If you are seeking solitude, there are parts of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park where you can walk all day without seeing more than a handful of people.

Loch Katrine is a good compromise between amenities and nature (which suits our English immersion timetable). It has parking, a cafe, public toilets and a good quality track/road running around it (great for biking).

The loch itself it remains uniquely unspoilt by invasive industry (including holiday accommodation) because the loch itself supplies the city of Glasgow’s drinking water.

That means no fish farms. Even the surrounding land farming is regulated, with Scotland’s ubiquitous sheep prohibited too.

No noisy petrol-powered boats are permitted on the water. 

Nature flourishes in Loch Katrine, including red deer, otters, ospreys, and golden eagles.

golden eagle Scottish wildlife
Golden eagle (photographed in Perthshire)

The Sir Walter Scott Steamship Tour

For our language school, the main attraction of Loch Katrine is a boat trip on its paddle steamer.

SS Sir Walter Scott is a small steamship that has provided pleasure cruises and a ferry service on Loch Katrine for more than a century.

The only surviving screw steamer in regular passenger service in Scotland, she is named after the writer Sir Walter Scott who set his 1810 poem Lady of the Lake, and his 1818 novel Rob Roy around Loch Katrine.

(Sir Walter Scott is the father of Scottish tourism). 

portholes on Sir Walter Scott steamboat excursion

On board the SS Sir Walter Scott

Victorian Engineering

As well as being a superb machine, this boat ride takes you up through the loch, with the captain telling you about the buildings you can see on shore, the surrounding mountain peaks, and giving information about the loch, its wildlife and history.

If you are a hiker, make sure to climb Ben A’an before you take the boat trip. (There’s nothing like sipping a hot chocolate, sailing past the mountain you just climbed!)


The steamship is only still running thanks to a fundraising campaign: SOS – Save Our Steamship appeal.

Every ticket you buy contributes to keeping this beauty running!

Help the next generation enjoy this wonder too! 

Visit Loch Katrine - Sir Walter Scott steamboat excursion

On board the SS Sir Walter Scott


“A National Lottery Heritage Fund award of £130,000 and smaller grants from The Hugh Fraser Foundation and Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust, together with public donations, allowed work to replace decking and the two cracked boilers on the historic Steamship, with her returning to service in June 2023.”.

Save Our Steamship website


Scottish house on Loch Katrine from the SS Sir Walter Scott

A Visit to Loch Katrine & its Steamship

How this English conversation activity helps your English and positively impacts our community:


✅ Great for mental/physical health

✅ benefits our local community.

🟠  a good introduction to Scottish culture

✅ preserves craft skills, historic machinery, monuments etc.

⭕ supports Scottish industry/agriculture

✅ gets you talking with a rich and diverse selection of people, or about diverse subjects.

✅ explores Scottish wildlife in non-invasive ways 

⭕ supports arts & artists

✅ financially contributes to preserving culture

✅ it is for fun and feeling good in English.

(Learn more about this Checklist.)

A Superb Visitor Experience

One detail within your boat trip experience is this series of information panels depicting the loch’s history, which are displayed in the area you queue to board the boat. 

Learning (and feeling) the history of the Highland Clearances is essential to understanding contemporary Scottish culture – even viewing the landscapes which surround us.

These pictures illustrate events within the surrounding villages very effectively. 

(Learn about the Highland Clearances in Perthshire). 

Visit Loch Katrine - local history of Rob Roy McGregor
Visit Loch Katrine - local history of Rob Roy McGregor

Visit Loch Katrine in 2024 with Blue Noun Language School

On any immersion holiday with us, we share our favourite ‘off the beaten tracks‘ parts of Scotland.

We think they are the best way to experience Scotland’s landscape and wildlife. 

Loch Katrine & its steamship are true gems in the visit Scotland experience: truly one of the best day trips anywhere in Scotland, and we have good reasons for sharing it with L2 English users – helping them fall in love with speaking English through adventures and rich experiences. 

Immersion English Holidays

Our English immersion holidays are not English lessons.

With just 3 L2 speakers at any time, our holidays are a curated series of encounters and adventures, designed to get L2 users feeling confident speaking English.

Throughout your holiday, you’ll have an English coach by your side and sharing your adventure – whether that’s learning to Ceilidh dance, touring Aberfeldy by bike or Canoeing the River Tay.

We believe speaking English confidently begins with having FUN in the language.

And we have 1000 fun ways to share Scotland with you!

Further Information

While Loch Katrine is not as busy as Loch Lomond, if you want passage on the ferryboat, do book ahead. It has a small capacity and it does book up in peak season.

Remember it is cool and windy on the water – pack a jacket!

Book your boat trip, hire a bike – or discover your accommodation options at Loch Katrine.

Promotional Film

We feature a couple of boat trips in our immersion holidays.

You can discover them in this 8-minute promotional film.

Which boat trip would you choose?