A HISTORIC Scottish steamship has returned to the water following a three-year absence.

Loch Katrine’s Sir Walter Scott was built by Denny’s of Dumbarton in 1899 and is due to resume sailing the weekend of June 17 and 18.

It follows the completion of a £750,000 restoration project.

The work involved replacing the two steam boilers and decking as well as other major structural repairs.

It was made possible thanks to the success of a “Save our Steamship” fundraising appeal.

Donations came in from across the world, boosted by grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Stirling Council among others.

Managing director of steamship Sir Walter Scott, Gordon Allan, who led the restoration work, said: “The return of the steamship to service for the public to once again enjoy sailing on Loch Katrine under the power of steam is a major achievement given the cost and complexity of the repair works as we emerged from the dark days of Covid-19 which cast a long shadow over the future of our operations.

“We feared steamship Sir Walter Scott would not sail again and her reintroduction to service this summer has only been possible because of the tremendous support we have received from the public who have demonstrated their affection for the steamship with generous donations.

“We are also grateful to funding bodies for the various grants we have received and our various suppliers and contractors.

“Importantly, I would like to pay tribute to our own dedicated staff and volunteers who have worked so hard, often in difficult weather conditions, to ensure the restoration works were completed in time for what I hope will be a busy season.”

The steamship was restored over an 18-month period with the support of specialist contractors who manufactured and installed the new boilers.

CEO and steamship trustee James Fraser said: “This national maritime treasure has been saved for current and future generations to enjoy the special qualities of Loch Katrine in the heart of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

“It will also make a major contribution to supporting active travel, connectivity and climate change actions which are emerging as key priorities in the recently published draft National Park Partnership Plan.

“The return of the steamship also coincides with the completion of a major phase of visitor infrastructure improvements at the visitor hubs at either end of the loch with funding support from the VisitScotland Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

“This has included extending car parks, installing electric hookups for campervans to stay overnight, the provision of facilities for cyclists, improving toilets and enhancing facilities to improve the experience for disabled visitors.”

The steamship also has strong eco-credentials, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions by over 90% thanks to a new revolutionary hydrogen and vegetable oil fuel.