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Everything you need to know about our water source, Loch Katrine

Loch Katrine, whose pure soft water goes into making Clydeside Single Malt Whisky today.Loch Katrine, whose pure soft water goes into making Clydeside Single Malt Whisky

In Scots Gaelic whisky is known as Uisge Beatha, or the ‘water of life’an apt moniker for the pivotal role that it has always played in Scottish life and culture.

Water plays a crucial role too at the Clydeside Distillery in many ways. This oasis sits right on the lifeblood River Clyde and the water that infuses its drams hails from a uniquely attractive source in the rugged hills of the Trossachs, one of the most charmingly scenic corners of Scotland.

In my blogs for the Clydeside Distillery I’ve already looked at the role of the Clyde in the distillery’s heritage - indeed the distillery itself is forged around one of its most striking historical buildings. The river also provides the spectacular backdrop for the distillery’s tours and her whisky production as she establishes herself as one of Scotland’s newest and most striking whisky distilleries.

"the Clydeside Distillery is blessed with sourcing its waters from Loch Katrine"

That water source is no tiny Highland burn that you cannot trace for more than a few metres on steep slopes behind the distillery. Oh no - the Clydeside Distillery is blessed with sourcing its waters from Loch Katrine, for me one of the most beguiling lochs in all of Scotland and easily accessible from Glasgow and anywhere else in the Central Belt.

Don’t take my word for it. Such great artistic and literary luminaries as Wordsworth and Ruskin were utterly bewitched by Loch Katrine and the surrounding Trossachs are a bucolic escape awash with shimmering lochs, tumbling glens and majestic mountains. The Trossachs look and feel every bit as dramatic as any romantic poem or landscape painting. An opera too for that matter as Gioachino Rossini’s ‘La donna del lago’ was set here.

One of the The most famous literary nameS associated with Loch Katrine is definitely Sir Walter Scott who penned his 'The Lady of the Lake poem' in Loch Katrine's honour back in 1810

The most famous literary name, though, associated with Loch Katrine is definitely Sir Walter Scott. One of Scotland’s true literary titans penned his ‘The Lady of the Lake’ poem in Loch Katrine’s honour back in 1810. The poem has become synonymous with Loch Katrine. Walter Scott didn’t leave his love of Loch Katrine there, though, as he returned with 1817’s Rob Roy, which eulogised Scotland’s Robin Hood. The real-life Raibeart Ruadh was actually born around Loch Katrine and spent his infamous days rampaging through the glens outrunning the bewildered authorities, before finally being buried in his beloved Trossachs at Balquhidder.

The Trossachs are often hailed as the ‘Foothills to the Highlands’. I’d go further than that and say that they are more a Highlands in Miniature. Without the epic drive north, you get to experience the thrill of towering peaks, thick forests and big skies. Loch Katrine itself is just over eight miles long and never pushes out more than a mile either side. The name fittingly, given the Rob Roy heritage, is thought to come from the old word for ‘cattle thief’.

The Trossachs may feel wild and remote like the Highlands, but they are also gloriously accessible.

The Trossachs may feel wild and remote like the Highlands, but they are also gloriously accessible. You can explore them on two feet on the countless walking trails, snake around on the mountain bike tracks or just relax in the car as you take in a scenic drive on the legendary Duke’s Pass between Aberfoyle and Callander.

SS Sir Walter Scott Boat on Loch KatrineSS Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine

The most fun trip in the Trossachs is definitely that on the wee paddle steamer that plies the magical waters of Loch Katrine. Fittingly named the SS Sir Walter Scott this historic gem turns back the years as she eases along the sparkling waters in the shadows of the hills and the heather. You really feel onboard like you are being spirited back to 1899 when she was launched.

As well as offering the spectacular cruise on the loch you can also bring a bike aboard this Clyde-built gem. That opens up the option of then cycling back around the banks of the loch. You can now hire bikes near the pier on Loch Katrine. Handily another cruise ship, the Lady of the Lake, also ploughs the lake these days with more information on both online.


Robin taking his daughter up Ben A'anRobin taking his daughter up Ben A'an

Ben A’an may only be 454m high, but it is a stunner that I made it up in just over an hour with my wee daughter in a rucksack on my back.

You could come to the Trossachs and not even climb up one hill. Don’t make that mistake. If you’ve got a little experience and the right gear hillwalking here is superb. The likes of Ben Venue and Ben Ledi offer a day-long challenge, but there is a wee secret that I reckon offers one of the best effort to reward ratios of any hill in Scotland. Ben A’an may only be 454m high, but it is a stunner that I made it up in just over an hour with my wee daughter in a rucksack on my back. The views are remarkable, staring out over a phalanx of hill and forest, with Loch Katrine itself blinking back down below.

The Clydeside Distillery is seriously lucky. Its source of Loch Katrine is not only a visual stunner, but her waters and the surrounding Trossachs are brilliant fun for exploring and seriously easy to get to and about.

Some whisky distilleries don’t have much of a story about where their water comes from. Others still have a wee burn in rough terrain that you cannot follow even if you want to. The Clydeside Distillery is seriously lucky. Its source of Loch Katrine is not only a visual stunner, but her waters and the surrounding Trossachs are brilliant fun for exploring and seriously easy to get to and about. After a day exploring this natural wonder you will be keen to raise a toast with me to the Clydeside Distillery. Slainte!

Robin’s Plan for the Perfect Day Around the Clydeside Distillery’s Source, Loch Katrine

  1. Morning – Drive up to the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre to learn about the area’s bountiful flora and fauna. The walking trails take you straight into this world of tall trees, red squirrels and soaring birds of prey.
  2. Lunch – Nip down to Aberfoyle to put together a picnic or enjoy a pub lunch.
  3. Afternoon – Take in Robin’s favourite views in the Trossachs from Ben A’an, before driving on to Loch Katrine to enjoy a trip on the SS Sir Walter Scott.
  4. Evening – Enjoy a proper fish supper at Mhor Fish in Callander, which will set you up for tomorrow, when you will be desperate to get back to the Clydeside Distillery and taste the magic spirit that the crystal clear and clean waters of Loch Katrine help conjure up.