A Photographers Guide to Loch Ard

 

Loch Ard, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland, UK

Described as one of the most photographed lochs in Scotland, Loch Ard belies it size and provides the photographer a multitude of scenes, opportunities and pleasure in all four seasons

Introduction

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

Loch Ard

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

Loch Ard mono

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...

Loch Ard Sunday morning Texture...

 

        Winter begins.... by David Mould (mouldy) on 500px.com         
Loch Ard  mono

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 accessible, commanding views down the Loch west towards Ben Lomond.this area is particularly beautiful in Autumn when the trees are in full colour and the rising sun providing spectacular options. 

After the snow... Loch Ard colour
Loch Ard Boathouses
Loch Ard jetty The Blue Painter
Loch Ard Dinghy, different angle, different processing

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 Wellingtons are recommended...

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...

Loch Ard Autumn Glow

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 (presently missing)  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...

Autumn light, loch Ard... by David Mould (mouldy) on 500px.com

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...

Sunrise flight... by David Mould (mouldy) on 500px.com
Defiance.. one tree against the world!!

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

Winter warmer...

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.

Ben Lomond from Loch Ard, Trossachs
Ben Lomond Ben Lomond and Loch Ard... mist and sun..
Loch Ard, Autumn light

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.

Loch Ard slowly pulls on its Autumn coat...
Ard Tree
Loch Ard morning

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..

Ard Pano
Duck Dreams...

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 blether'  tearoom, where the welcome is warm and the cakes, and the food in general, exquisite...

Dont fence me in... Loch Ard Loch Ard
Seat with a view... (wellies required) by David Mould (mouldy) on 500px.com

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.

Sometimes in Scotland,it rains!! by David Mould (mouldy) on 500px.com
Loch Ard, Trossachs by David Mould (mouldy) on 500px.com

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 for the upkeep of the field, 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, particularly when there is mist on the loch...

Loch Ard... by David Mould (mouldy) on 500px.com
Winter Evening Sun... Loch Ard
Loch Ard, morning mist mono...
Loch Ard fisherman
Major Redevelopment
I think ive got a stalker...

View Loch Ard Trossachs in a larger map

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 / Poloriser
  • Waterproofs and Wellinton boots.
  • Midge repellant (essential after May, sometimes a head net) see midge forecast .
  • There are few areas of reception on Loch Ard for mobile phones that I have found (Ledard Farm car park)

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

I hope this guide has been useful... If you wish to comment or have a query about this guide, please contact me using the link at the top of the page.

David