THE Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway in Balloch will re-open this Saturday, July 11.

Staff at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority have been working to prepare the site for launching and retrieval for the first time since the beginning of the lockdown.

However, Loch Lomond users are being reminded that safety remains a top priority and in light of Covid-19 guidance, changes have had to be made to allow the slipway to be used responsibly.

New procedures have been put in place, in line with Scottish Government advice on physical distancing, which may mean that things might take longer than usual when using the facility.

Simon Jones, director of conservation and visitor operations, said: "We have a responsibility to manage the site safely and this is our number one priority, for loch users, for staff and for other visitors, businesses and local community nearby.

"The slipway is one of our most complex sites to operate given the volume and range of people using it, and the constraints of space both on and off the water when launching and retrieving crafts. We have been working hard to put measures in place to ensure that the slipway can operate safely. We now look forward to welcoming slipway users back to Loch Lomond.

"We know a lot of people have been looking forward to getting back out on the loch. We now ask that they remain patient for just a little while longer when using the facility as it will not be operating as usual.

"Due to physical distancing requirements, launching and retrieving crafts is likely to take longer and we expect there to be queues. Please respect the new processes in place, as well as each other when waiting to use the slipway.

"Rangers will be on hand to guide users through the new procedures but please bear with us and be considerate as we help you to enjoy Loch Lomond safely and responsibly."

Once the site re-opens there will be a staggered queuing system to launch crafts. To maximise the space available to slipway users, cars not towing boats or trailers are asked to park elsewhere.

The site will open at 8.30am and the gate will close at 9pm, although loch users can still exit the site if retrieving after this time, by following on-site guidance.

No changing or shower facilities will be available although toilets will be, with Covid-safe controls. For their own safety, and the safety of others, users are asked to wear face coverings, especially when using the pontoon, where physical distancing will be more difficult.

Ahead of the site re-opening the National Park Authority has prepared a checklist ( for loch users that sets out what they can do to help things run smoothly before they arrive and while they are using the facility.

This includes things like being as ready as possible in advance, having their completed documentation ready for registration or re-registration, and passengers remaining in the designated waiting area to ensure the pontoon has enough space for physical distancing while launching and retrieving.

Meanwhile, the charity which owns the Maid of the Loch, the famous paddle steamer currently berthed at the slipway, advised this week that the iconic vessel is planned to re-open to visitors next month.