Speedboats bring peril of high road to Loch Lomond

QUEEN VICTORIA loved it. So did Dr Johnson, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey, and Sir Walter Scott. The problem is that everyone who has visited Loch Lomond has loved it too.

But it isn't just the number of visitors flocking to the 22-mile stretch of water north-west of Glasgow that is causing problems: it is the speed at which they travel when they get there.

When Queen Victoria visited in 1869, she came by one of the paddle-steamers that had been taking passengers up the River Leven from the Clyde for more than 50 years.

These days the cruisers use speedboats and jet skis that rush across the water at more than 60 miles an hour. Last weekend a woman died after two of them collided.

The Department of Transport's marine safety inspectorate is to hold its own investigation, separate from the police and fatal accident inquiries (the Scottish equivalent of an inquest). There is talk of speed limits. But after decades of disharmony between the overlapping local authorities that govern the loch, no one expects an easy solution.

Tommy Daniels, a Loch Lomond boatman since 1939, has been writing letters to the various authorities for years to try to draw attention to the problems. Mr Daniels's old-fashioned wooden boat does seven to eight knots - just under 10mph. 'The plastic boats can fly up and down here at 60mph,' he says. 'Drivers don't know one end of the loch from the other; most don't even know where the engine of their boat is.'

Most of all he is worried about drink. 'You can't drink and drive on the lochside road, but out here you can do anything you like. I don't come here at the weekend anymore. They are destroying it.'

Queen Victoria wrote in her diary of her cruise on Loch Lomond: 'Nothing could be finer or more truly Alpine, reminding me much of the Lake of Lucerne; only Loch Lomond is longer.'

Her comments assured the loch instant fashionable status. But the tourist boom actually started about 200 years ago, when the geographer T Richardson published his Guide to Loch Lomond in 1799. Its fame was 'sounded by every traveller who had seen it', Richardson wrote. 'No place of its kind in Europe is more resorted to, foreigners of every description visit, returning amply satisfied with their romantic beauties; beauties which at once please the eye and gratify the fancy.'

That brought the famous flocking to the place. But a song helped too. 'The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond' derives from the failure of the 1745 Jacobite rising. Two men from the Lomond clan, Colquhoun, were sentenced to death. One was let off to return home and tell the story. The dead one's sweetheart says that she will meet her loved one again in heaven - a reference to her intended suicide.

The 'high road' and 'low road' in the chorus refer to the Scottish belief that if a clansman died, his spirit was transported back to his birthplace by the 'faeries', who always travelled underground.

Jacobite history, folklore, and a suicide were thus reworked from older songs in 1836 by Lady John Scott of Buccleuch - the Joni Mitchell of her day - who died, aged 90 in 1900.

But the 'Bonnie Bonnie Banks' have paid for their fame. Ian Thompson has worked on the loch at Luss village for 37 years. Last week he watched three men being rescued when their speedboat hit rocks. 'If there is an easy answer, I don't know anyone who knows what it is,' he said.

At Loch Lomond Marina, in Balloch, at the south end of the loch, director Simon Kitchen blamed 'a few irresponsible idiots giving anybody who uses speedboats or jet skis a bad name'.

A multimillion pound industry would be killed off if new speed regulations were introduced, Mr Kitchen said. 'At the moment we have one park warden for the whole area. And this isn't a park anyway. He's frustrated. We're frustrated. I wish someone had answers. We don't'

(Photograph omitted)

Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Sport
Jose Mourinho restrains his assistant manager Rui Faria, Fabio Borini celebrates his winning penalty and Connor Wickham equalises for Sunderland
sportChelsea 1 Sunderland 2: Deafeat is extra bitter as former Chelsea player Fabio Borini scores late penalty to seal victory
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit