Loch Ard, Trossachs

Loch Ard has an area of 243 ha (600 acres) and a mean depth of 13.4m (44 feet).

A loch in the Trossachs district of Stirling Council Area, Loch Ard lies to the north of Loch Ard Forest, 3 miles (5 km) west of Aberfoyle. The loch is in three parts which are joined by beautiful waterways. I am going to take you on a photographic journey down the loch from the first Small loch just past the conservation village of Milton, to the wider expanse of the views eastward from the other end of this beautiful loch at Kinlochard.

Special Photographic Features and Notes

Because of the east /west alignment of Loch Ard, it is a particularly good Loch for early morning and evening light, this coupled with its ability to hold on to mist for longer than normal makes it an excellent photo opportunity, for a longer period. There are adequate vistas to fill a days shooting, and as long as you are prepared to walk a little, parking should not be a problem.

Milton Basin

The first part of the loch has been the sanctuary of many photographers, with the boathouse in the first picture being shot many thousands of times over the year from all angles and in many varied lighting conditions and seasons..
This view (see map) is taken to the west with the view in the distance onto Ben lomond, and is a wonderful Autumn / Winter option with the Ben most of the winter, covered in snow.

This small part of the loch is popular with photographers due, I feel, to its ability to hold on to early morning mist longer than most surrounding areas, as it is a valley and closely penned in by the trees on either side, that, and the very picturesque jetty and boathouse, this is the first stop for most snappers on there journey up the loch…Parking is scarce, so I would suggest you park in the carpark at the forest park area and walk the few hundred yards to this spot. (see Map)

Boathouse Bay

Moving along the road towards Kinlochard, the next section of the loch is joined by a small channel inaccessible from the road side of the loch, and again limited parking on the verge is usually first come, first served… This is a slightly larger bay, with a collection of boathouses and a boat jetty, again very widely photographed and readily accessable, commanding views down the Loch west towards Ben Lomond.this area is particularly beautiful in Autumn when the trees are in fulll colour and the rising sun providing spectacular options. This part of the loch also benefits from the lingering mist and calm waters because of the surrounding forest. As you can see, this area delivers in colour and spectacle in all seasons, weathers and times of day and the boathouses provide a splash of colour on those dull rainy days..

This area gets very wet, so wellies are recommended..

The jetty in this bay provides a very good focal point both morning and evening…

The Loch opens up!

Moving on along the loch, you come to the main body of water, and in my opinion, the most picturesque…it has ample loch-side parking and offers a vista down the Loch, but spectacular views of the far side of the loch, with various promentaries and varieties of forestry…

The Light through the mist at this part of the loch is particularly exquisite, coming from the east and rising over the forest to illuminate this stunning area of the loch. Surrounding Loch Ard are several walking, horse riding and cycling routes, as well as an excellent family sculpture trail

Running parallel to the south of the loch is the Victorian architecture of the Loch Katrine Aqueduct completed in 1860, the system brings the drinking water to Glasgow, with some amazing viaducts and colossal engineering.

Another strange attraction from this part of the loch is metal cross in the water of the bay…I had always thought that this cross had some memorial or religious significance…but recently have realised that it is possibly just to mark where a rock cuts the surface in low water and cannot be seen in high water by the many canoeists and water users… I think I like the mystique of the first thoughts…

Forest Hills and Ledard Farm environs

Further down the Loch you will find the next parking space in front of the Forest Hills Resort, where the views both east and west are stunning…

looking East, early morning is best on the little beach just before the resort with commanding views towards the sunrise and the mist covered forests of the south side of the loch…

This side of the loch is well stocked with useful jetty’s, water side trees and other foreground attractions for the photographer…

Ben Lomond

Looking west at the same time of day will give you, on a good morning a spectacular view of Ben Lomond in the distance over the end of the loch at Kinlochard. If you are very lucky on this stretch of the loch, you may see the recently returned Aberfoyle Ospreys that can be seen via CCTV at the David Marshall Lodge and fish on Loch Ard and the surrounding lochs

A few hundred yards after the resort is a car park which is the main one for those who take to walking up Ben Venue and the surrounding hills, and the base for the fishermen who fish for large pike on the Loch, in front of the Ledard Farm entrance, is a field usually home to several species of geese as well as horses and sheep… please respect the Scottish Outdoor Access Code when using these areas as the environment around here is sensitive.

The tree line in this field in front of the farm is an excellent area to shoot both east and west as well as spectacular panoramas across the Loch.

Ledard field looking West

Loch Ard Panorama from Ledard field

Ledard field looking East

Just past the field is a small parking space with a bench and lovely views over the loch… past the bench you come to Kinlochard, and the chance , at the right time of year to have lunch or a snack at the popular ‘wee
 tearoom, where the welcome is warm and the cakes, and the food in general, exquisite…

Kinlochard and the West End of loch Ard

Kinlochard marks the end of the loch, but does not fail to deliver in its views back east down the loch , and becomes the starting point for many who explore the
Loch Ard forest trails
on the south side of the Loch, with ample parking and well signed tracks.

There is a Car park at the village hall situated as you turn left at the end of the Loch , remember to leave a donation in the honesty box, in order that this facility remains useful. The field in front of the hall is for public use and the views that can be had from this field open up the whole length of the loch looking East. Perfect for the early morning sunrise, and, as you see below, the evening glow…

At this end of the Loch, you can walk, cycle or ride the whole circuit of loch Ard as well as explore the forest trails in the shadow on Ben Lomond. The views from the South side are equally spectacular if a bit more remote and requiring a bit of a trek.

South side looking toward Kinlochard

On the South side of Loch Ard there are several islands, including one with an old castle ruin on it.. Murdoch’s Castle.. The remains is also known as Dundochill. It is said to be built by Murdoch, Duke of Albany, uncle of James 1st of Scotland, or by his ancestors. It’s not known the exact date of construction, however it is estimated it was built in the early 15th century. It is only accessible by water, and is a popular landing point for canoeists.

Murdoch’s Castle

Special Equipment

  • A tripod for long exposures and sharp shots, and
    preferably a water resistant camera!
  • Wide angle lens,
  • Telephoto lens for the wildlife
  • ND Grad filters, Sunset / sunrise filters /
  • Waterproofs and Wellinton boots.
  • Midge repellant (essential after May, sometimes a head
    net) see midge
  • There are few areas of reception on Loch Ard for mobile
    phones that I have found (Ledard Farm car park)


Getting there

For information on how to get to Loch Ard , check directions 

General information

Loch Ard is the jewel in the crown of the Trossachs, and can be accessed easily within 1 hour of Glasgow. Accommodation in and around the Trossachs can be found HERE. For comprehensive information on access and activities in this
area check out the Forestry Commission website

Whats on in 2009 Queen Elizabeth & Argyll Forest Parks events guide (PDF 1.7Mb)

For more information on David Moulds Landscapes visit his Website or view all his work on flickr

All images are copyright David Mould, if you wish to contact him, this can be done through his website

Author Bio

David Mould

1 Comment

  1. Graham Grocott November 18, 2012

    excellent guide, what a great location

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