Lady of the lake

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Partly camouflaged by early morning mist and unnoticed by the flight of ducks landing on the mirrored surface of Scotland's largest loch, the decaying 'white elephant' of Loch Lomond is awaiting rejuvenation, writes James Cusick. The Maid of the Loch, the last inland paddle-steamer to be built in Britain, was launched in 1953 but the vessel has not left Balloch pier at the south of the loch since 1981. Her boiler needs replacing, the upper decks are caked with moss and slime, while brass and wooden fittings have disappeared. This month Dumbarton District Council bought The Maid, her neglected sister ship, The Countess Fiona, Balloch pier, and two acres of adjacent land with a slipway and winch house for pounds 55,000. But the council's bill could reach pounds 2m to restore the ship back to its original glory, and it could take years.

Photograph: Edward Webb

(Photograph omitted)

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