The Cordner family have been locals in Tarbet and Arrochar for over 70 years. Having lived in Glasgow and owning Black Third Farm in Cardross they then moved to the village of Arrochar in the early 1940's. Roi and Kay bought Ardmay House on Loch Long and turned it into a unique Country House Hotel. With a small indoor swimming pool (salt water and not heated!) a mini ice rink for curling and a fully working musical organ in the grand hall it was a hotel full of character.
Well known as a great host, Roi would often pick up guests from Arrochar & Tarbet train station in his Bentley wearing full kilt regalia and with their son Stuart piping guests into dinner the Hotel gained quite a reputation as a special destination for both locals and overseas visitors.
Following years of sheep farming on the hills above Loch Long and Loch Lomond, young Stuart shared his parent’s entrepreneurial flair and with his first wife Liz and pal Davie MacKinnon they started Arrochar Boat Hiring Company in the early 1970’s from Arrochar Pier.
The fleet of dinghies grew to three passenger boats for fishing cod and mackerel that were in abundance in Loch Long and a passenger boat which operated from the pier at Dunoon carrying sightseers ‘doon the water’. The fleet also included tugs and the smallest registered cargo vessel in the UK which carried open cast gelignite! The gelignite was used for blasting and building rig work in Shetland.
In 1978 Stuart and Liz saw a gap in the market for cruises at the north end of Loch Lomond and had the foresight to operate from Tarbet Pier. The location proved to be invaluable in the longer term, strategically placed on the main route for passing tourist coach groups as well as being at the heart of the National Park. Cruise Loch Lomond Ltd initially operated one-hour cruises with one vessel, The Southern Star.
In 1982 Stuart’s nephew Fred joined the Company and Cruise Loch Lomond began to expand rapidly with increasing visitor numbers coming from the inbound tourist market coupled with the popularity of short breaks and the “staycation”. Marie, Stuart’s second wife, and Stuart (Jnr) subsequently joined the team at Cruise Loch Lomond.
Following the purchase of the MV Lomond Monarch last year, Cruise Loch Lomond now operate a fleet of eight passenger cruise vessels making it the largest privately owned operator in Scotland. From one departure point at Tarbet in 1978, the boats now cruise from Luss, Rowardennan, Inversnaid and most recently Balmaha. The company also operates The Bonnie and Ben Cafe cafe and ticket office at Tarbet Pier.
Reflecting on the delivery of the new vessel from Loch Ness through the Caledonian and Crinan Canals Stuart (Jnr) says,
“We had an amazing week in glorious weather cruising down the west coast of Scotland. It was very nostalgic when we arrived in Crinan Harbour and berthed the new boat alongside the Duke of Normandy, a vessel Dad had operated for many years from Arrochar Pier”.
As well as welcoming visitors to Loch Lomond on board, the boats have hosted many weddings, birthday celebrations, private parties and corporate events. They have been used as the support vessels for charity events based at Loch Lomond, such as swimmers who have raised money by swimming the length of the Loch! They have gained celebrity status by ferrying International film stars to locations around the Loch (Scarlett Johannsson in the film “Under the Skin”).
Today it is still very much a family business with Fred, Stuart (Jnr) and Marie at the helm of this flourishing and award winning Visitor Attraction.
For further information on Cruise Loch Lomond cruise destinations please go to:
Tel: 01301 702 356