THE historic Loch Lomond paddle steamer Maid of the Loch is now open for the new summer season – with a weekend of children’s Easter egg hunts proving a popular way to start a new year of activities on board.

More than 100 children took part, and while they 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 owns and operates the Maid, said: “It was a wonderful start to 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 fund-raising is going and real enthusiasm for when she will sail again.”

When pressed about a date for when the Maid might be seen sailing on Loch Lomond again for the first time in more than 25 years, John said he was optimistic but admitted there was still a way to go.

“We are hoping for summer next year,” he added, “but we still have more reports to prepare and need more donations before the Heritage Lottery Fund will release their promised £3.8 million.”

Built at the Glasgow yard of A. & J. Inglis, the Maid – the last paddle steamer to be built in Britain – was disassembled and transported by road to Balloch before being reassembled ahead of her launch into the waters of Loch Lomond in March 1953.

Her last sailing on the loch was in September 1981, but the Loch Lomond Steamship Company has been working hard since the early 1990s to restore the vessel and raise the £5.5m – including the HLF’s pledge – needed to get her sailing again.

The Maid of the Loch is open every day from 10am to 5pm until October. More events are planned for throughout the summer season – for full details of what’s happening over the next few months, check out