Photographers guide to Loch Ard.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
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.
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.
This is a photographic journey down the loch from the roadside on the north side, from the first small loch just past the conservation village of Milton, to the wider expanse of 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 onto mist longer than most other locations, makes for excellent photo opportunities, for a longer period.
There are adequate vistas and locations to fill a full days shooting, and as long as you are prepared to walk a little, parking should not be a problem. Hopefully this guide will help you plan your day and give you a taste of what is possible in this relatively small area.
The first part of the loch has been the sanctuary of many photographers, with the boathouse in these images being shot many thousands of times throughout the year from all angles and in many varied lighting conditions and weathers...
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, and as this area can get busy at times, I would suggest parking in the car park at the forest park area (see map) and walk the few hundred yards across the river to this spot.
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 cloud colour 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 Wellington Boots or an aqualung 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 not only a vista down the Loch, but spectacular views of the far side of the loch, with various promentaries and varieties of forestry...
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.
Affectionately known as ‘the gap’, well… by myself and a few other veteran, location dependant photographers, the light through the mist at this part of the loch can be particularly exquisite, coming from the east and rising over the forest to illuminate this stunning promontory on the loch.
This part of the loch is particularly picturesque in the Autumn with the colours and soft low light rising from the west later in the morning illuminating the various types of mixed forestry seen at this location... parking is easy at this location with several roadside spaces available.
Forest Hills and Ledard Farm
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 equally spectacular...
This side of the loch is well stocked with useful jetty's, water side trees and other foreground attractions for the photographer. 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.
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..
After the entrance to Forest Hills Resort, is ample parking and setting off point for a days climb on Ben Venue in the distance, as well as an attractive expanse of loch side with ample views up and down the loch.
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 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.
To see locations, car parks and additional information click on the google map below.
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, Poloriser
Waterproofs and Wellington boots, Multimat or something to sit/ kneel on
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)
Money (or a friend) to buy a welcome roll with bacon and egg and a cup of tea in the butchers in Aberfoyle after your trip to the loch.
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
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.
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 have any questions or wish to comment, please contact me.