The new LEADER funded pontoon was formally opened by the Duke of Montrose on 8 June 2018. Led by the Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha, the pontoon has now made access to the eastern shores of Loch Lomond that much easier, with the pontoon being fully accessible and available for anyone to use.
Invited guest enjoyed one of one of Cruise Loch Lomond’s new island cruises, with the additional highlight of a passing rowing boat, complete with oarsmen in Highland Dress to commemorate the repeal of the Act of Proscription in 1782. The act had banned the wearing of Highland Dress, with the rowing boat crossing the Highland Boundary Fault Line, located close to the pontoon and marking the start of the Scottish Highlands.
Over the last two decades, owners of The Oak Tree Inn, Sandy Fraser and his family have made considerable investment to enhance the village of Balmaha, improving facilities for the growing number of visitors. The Oak Tree Inn with restaurant, pub, coffee shop and accommodation is an incredibly popular destination to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Loch Lomond.
Whilst growing his business Sandy quickly recognised that the village was lacking water based activities and enough connectivity with other loch side communities. The opening of the pontoon is as the result of their major investment of time and money to address these issues.
Sandy said ‘The pontoon is already delivering incredible improvements to the east side of Loch Lomond. More people can arrive by boat, helping to take the pressure off of roads and car parks. New short cruises around the islands are proving to be very popular and we are seeing an extended season, which helps the local economy’.
The project is part funded by European money, with funding from Forth Valley & Lomond LEADER. Chair of the Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER group, Douglas Johnston, said “Balmaha Pontoon was one of the first projects approved by the Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER Group as it is an excellent example of a private business leading the way on a project which will bring many benefits to a community. We would love to see more projects like this coming forward for LEADER funding whilst there is still funding left. It’s always worth having a chat with the LEADER team about project ideas, but in this case the LEADER Group particularly liked the fact that the pontoon would be accessible to all. Well done to Sandy and all at the Oak Tree Inn!”
Support for the project has come from many local organisations, including the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, Stirling Council and Montrose Estates, whose land the pontoon is located on. The Duke of Montrose, who opened the pontoon said.
‘We welcome this significant improvement to connectivity on Loch Lomond and personally I was delighted to officially open the pontoon. It was wonderful to see the rowing boat and oarsmen, marking what is a significant moment of Scottish history.’
Additional support has come from Bank of Scotland, its relationship manager Donal Church said ‘Scotland is renowned for attracting visitors from around the world with the tourist industry contributing more than £11 billion to the Scottish economy. It is important for businesses, like The Oak Tree Inn, to position themselves for success in order to maximise their share of the growing market.