Get off the beaten track in your own car on a forest drive that combines history with fabulous scenery and wildlife in the heart of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.
The seven-mile (11.5km) one-way Three Lochs Forest Drive begins about two miles north of the popular town of Aberfoyle on the A821, The Duke’s Pass. It was launched 40 years ago in 1977 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The drive is open to vehicles from Easter to October, daily from 9am, although you can walk or cycle the route at any time of year. The entrance is at grid reference NN 517 036 and the nearest postcode is FK8 3SY. Please note that the entrance barrier is locked at 4pm while the exit barrier is locked by 5pm. The cost per vehicle is £2 payable at a machine, which takes coins and cards.
As the name suggests, the Forest Drive takes visitors past three lochs, Reòidhte, Drunkie and Achray. As well as enjoying the views of these picturesque lochs you will love the wider landscape of the Trossachs, including forest, hills and mountains.
There are plenty of opportunities during the drive to park and get out for a stroll. A1km route, out and back, heads to the oak-lined shore of Loch Drunkie or there’s a slightly longer figure-of-eight walk of Loch Drunkie. Another idea is to take a picnic and stop at a viewpoint for a bite to eat and to relish the views.
Small but very picturesque Loch Achray is reached some six miles west of the tourist town of Callander or via the Duke’s Pass north from Aberfoyle.
The idyllic location is between two larger lochs, Katrine and Venachar, and at the foot of Ben A’an, where you can start a walk to the 454m summit. The views back down over the still waters on a fine day are breathtaking. To the south of the loch, large areas of forestry offer tracks and trails for walkers and cyclists.
Thanks to its sheltered location Loch Achray is popular with swimmers and anglers. The loch is home to brown trout as well as pike, perch and salmon. Look out for woodland and water-based wildlife, too, such as red and roe deer, red squirrels and maybe even a red kite flying above or an osprey fishing on one of the lochs.
While you’re in the area you could also visit the Forestry Commission Scotland Lodge Forest Visitor Centre, above Aberfoyle, for great views and a café, toilets, souvenirs and information. For family activities near the Three Lochs Drive visit the website of Forestry Commission Scotland.
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.