On one of the few dry days after Christmas we were down by nearby Balloch at the southern end of Loch Lomond and decided to have a look at the Maid of the Loch paddle steamer which is undergoing a long and major restoration at the pier there.
We parked the car near the slipway and wandered along towards the pier head where we managed to buy a cup of excellent coffee and hot chocolates from the popular Highland Coffee stall. This coffee company has several outlets, one of which was on the Maid of the Loch. When the Maid was pulled up onto the slipway to facilitate further major repairs, the coffee stall moved down onto the pier.
From the pier we could get an excellent view of port side of the Maid of the Loch on the slipway. Although we could see much change since we last visited, the bulk of the most recent work has been going on inside the vessel and also on the starboard side, which we walked over to have a look at.
On the way round to see the starboard hull we walked past the Duncan Mills Slipway. Built in memory of Duncan Mills MBE, local councillor and businessman who was involved with the running of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
In summer the slipway is a hive of activity with boats being launched from their trailers by those seeking a pleasurable day sailing around the Loch.
After the slipway we passed the steam winch house. Built in 1953, the winch is still steam powered and after some restoration, was used to pull the Maid up the slipway into her current position.
During the summer months, and on certain days, the winch house is open to the public and for a small charge, visitors may operate the steam whistle!
Round at the starboard side the first thing we notice is the beautifully restored paddle wheel standing out bright against the white hull with its bright red protective paint gleaming in the sun. The painting of the hull is also new since we last visited. Still quite a bit to do though.
It was great to see the Maid of the Loch moving along in her restoration programme and we hope that it will not be long until she is back in the water, plying here trade up and down the loch for eager tourists and locals alike.
More information about the Maid of the Loch and her restoration can be found here: https://www.maidoftheloch.org