MORE than a hundred children and their families flocked to Balloch Pier over the Easter weekend to take part in the first activity of the new season on board the Maid of the Loch.

The historic paddler opened for the new visitor season on Friday with a weekend of children’s Easter Egg Hunts.

And while the young egg-hunters searched the ship for clues, the tearoom proved a haven out of the east wind for mums and dads.

John Beveridge, chairman of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, the charity which is leading the restoration of the Maid, said: “It was a wonderful start to our new season, and it’s great to see youngsters coming on board and also learning a bit about the Maid.

“There was lots of talk about how well the fundraising is going and real enthusiasm for when she will sail again.”

Built at the Glasgow shipyard of A. & J. Inglis, the Maid was disassembled and taken bit by bit from the Clyde to Balloch for reassembly before entering service in 1953.

Her last sailing on Loch Lomond was in 1981, and after more than a decade of neglect she was bought in 1992 before being handed over to the Loch Lomond Steamship Company.

As revealed in the Reporter, the fund-raising campaign to return the Maid to steam received a major boost last month in the form of £950,000 in financial support from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grants Fund.

When pressed about a sailing date, John was optimistic but admitted there was still a way to go. “We are hoping for summer next year, but we still have more reports to prepare and need more donations before Heritage Lottery will release their promised £3.6 million”.

Maid of the Loch is open every day from 10am-5pm until October. More information at