Lochend has been inhabited since long before the Iron Age, when the Lake of Menteith was home to about eight crannogs. Sitting right on the lake itself, and linked to the shore by underwater causeways known only to their inhabitants, these crannogs were circular houses built on stone bases or on wooden stilts, in which humans and animals co-habited for heat and safety. We have the prominent remains of one such crannog right here in the bay at Lochend, and there is nothing better than to swim out, about 150 meters, to the stones and plant yourself down on 1000's of years of history. You can even have somebody on the shore take a picture of you walking on water! A medieval pot was once found here, too, discovered in the 1950s by a friend, Gordon McGill, who had a caravan here and was snorkelling in the lake! The pot now sits in the Smith Art Gallery and Museum in Stirling.
In 1238, with the help of the Earl of Menteith, Augustine canons founded a priory on Inchmaholme Island, the largest of the three islands on our lake. Loch Inchmaholme, as it was known then, would have been a busy trading point and what I always find extraordinary, is how much people got about at that time, considering what travelling conditions must have been like. One such traveller was Mary Queen of Scots, on the run from the English army, who sheltered here as a child in 1547. It is also around this time that 'Lochend' is first recorded as 'Steading call it the Lochend'! It is also recorded, in the 18th Century, that Robin Og, the son of the notorious Rob Roy, and as much of a rogue as his father, abducted an heiress, Jean Fey, and brought her to Lochend, where he was caught and taken to Edinburgh to be hanged.
Lochend was originally part of the very large Cardross estate, owned by the Erskines, the Earls of Mar. It was probably much bigger when it was entitled 'Lands of Lochend, the lees, loanings, manor places, houses, biggins, milns, yards, parks and pendicles'!
The Erskine's sold the much smaller estate in 1922.
During the Second World War, the military commandeered the lake
and it was used as an ammunitions dump. You can still see the
remains of jetties built by the army on the western area of the
lake, which is inaccessible by land.
On 3rd June 1943 Sgt. Pilot Thomas Hetherington was flying his MK1 Spitfire, Plane No. P8187, from O.T.U. No.58 RAF Grangmouth on low flying exercise.
Sgt Pilot Hetherington is rumoured to have been showing off to the land girls working in fields on the north side of the lake when his wing touched the water and sent the spitfire crashing into the lake. Hethering escaped unhurt and was later reprimanded by Group Captain Cyril Wallace.
It is thought that the valuable Merlin engine was rescued from the wreck but that the plane its self is still in the lake. Every now and the diving teams come to look for it but without success.
The MK1 Spitfire is the Lake of Menteith's Nessy.