Located in the Great Forest of Loch Ard and close to the town of Aberfoyle, Loch Ard (meaning in Gaelic ‘the loch of the height/ promontory’) is a picturesque area of freshwater measuring some 2.5 miles by one mile. The loch is said to be the source of the River Forth, which continues its journey to the sea at the Firth of Forth on the east coast.
The sheltered position of the loch – and its size – makes it perfect for a number of water sports, such as kayaking and open water swimming. It’s possible to paddle or swim to, and around, several small islands in the loch.
Loch Ard is surrounded by many miles of forest trails, which are suitable for walking, mountain biking and horse riding. Look for waymarked trails, especially family friendly routes, including the 4.5-mile Loch Ard Family Sculpture Trails. Walk or cycle this trail to spot unusual sculptures and Gaelic markers that reveal details about the forest’s wildlife.
Other walking trails include the two-mile Ben Lomond Viewpoint Trail and 3.75-mile Lochan Spling Trail. A 3.5-mile Cycle Loop, which is perfect for mountain bikes, winds through the forest passing lochans and the fast-moving Duchray Water.
As you explore, look out for wildlife, including roe deer, red squirrels, capercaillie and woodland birds, as well as some other more surprising residents, such as mirage foxes, a wiry osprey, a leaping fish and Star Wars Squirrels. The loch is stocked with brown trout, perch and pike and is a popular spot for fishing.
There are lots to do in and around Loch Ard, so go ahead and find family activities here.
Whether you’re looking for the comfort of a campsite or the solitude of ‘wild camping’, the National Park offers plenty of places to immerse yourself in some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland.
If you are planning to ‘wild camp’, be aware that seasonal byelaws came into effect on 1st March 2017 which affect how you can camp in some areas between March and September. During this time, you need a permit to camp or (in some locations) to stay overnight in your motorhome in these Camping Management Zones.