This work investigates the use of a lattice comprising split ring resonators (SRRs) as a negative permeability medium to achieve backward travelling modes within a rectangular waveguide. The loadings of such SRR-type periodic structures into a waveguide can be tailored such that the backward mode exists in a passband below the ordinary basic modal cutoff frequency, thus affording filtering capabilities and miniaturisation. Theoretical studies by two approaches are performed here, a moment method spectral domain analysis, and a commercial simulation tool. Parametric studies that characterise the effects of various dimensional and electrical properties on the dispersion behaviour of the SRR-loaded waveguide shall also be conducted. The SRR parameters are then optimised using the ant colony optimisation (ACO) algorithm to achieve a low backward passband, for a high degree of miniaturisation and isolation. Experimental results of measurements performed on a manufactured prototype of the optimised SRR-loaded waveguide will also be presented.