I t rained as I set off, rained as I continued and was still raining when I got back to the start, but the six and a half miles I walked were fantastic.
As curtains of mist blew in over Loch Ard, the wind encouraging the leaves to fall like confetti, the colours of autumn could still be seen in this quiet corner of the Trossachs.
The number of deciduous trees – including oaks, which used to cover this area in ancient times – make it a great walk for this time of year.
After climbing from the lochside, there is a great vantage point. And as the walk goes on, as long as your waterproofs work, a feeling of being in your own little world can make for one of the best chill-outs available in Scotland’s forests. n
DISTANCE 6½ miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 650ft.
TIME 2½ to 3½ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 57.
PARKING Take the B829 west from Aberfoyle for about four and a half miles by the side of Loch Ard to Kinlochard. Turn left after the Wee Blether tearoom and follow the minor road to its end, where you go right to follow a stone drive to a Forestry Commission car park.
IN SUMMARY Walk back down the car park drive and turn right at the end, on to a track. This leads up past the Loch Ard Sailing Club and some houses. Once you have passed the hamlet of Couligarten, go left at a junction of tracks and follow marker posts with green flashes on them.
After dropping down to Loch Ard, the track re-enters woodland and reaches a junction, where you go left, following a sign for the Crannog. Once back on the loch’s edge, you can look through the trees to see the remains of an Iron Age crannog – the former water-based home looks like a little island, to the left of the larger Eilean Gorm.
The track continues above the loch and then heads round and back into woodland. At a junction, go left (or right to cut the walk short – after a small distance, you reach the initial sign for the crannog, where you go left to retrace your steps to the start). If taking the longer route, continue along the track and ignore another track going left a few hundred yards further on. At the next junction, go right – following a marker post with a green flash.
The track narrows to a path and climbs up to a wider track near a bench. Enjoy the view over Loch Ard to the surrounding hills, including the lower slopes of Ben Venue to the north and Ben Lomond to the west, before going right, along the track.
Just after a green metal barrier, go right to drop down a track and reach a fork, where you go right again. At the next junction (near Couligarten), go left to retrace your steps the last mile back to the start.
REFRESHMENTS The Wee Blether tearoom in Kinlochard is closest and offers good food. Or you can try the Macdonald Forest Hills hotel, on the road back to Aberfoyle.
WHILE IN THE AREA Go Country (www.trossachs.co.uk/gocountry-foresthills.php), on the shore of Loch Ard, offers a range of water sports – including canoeing, kayaking and climbing, as well as a trampoline on the loch.
On the A821 road to the Duke’s Pass (above Aberfoyle) is the David Marshall Lodge Visitor Centre (www.forestry.gov.uk), where there are trails and wildlife information as well as a tearoom. Next door is the Go Ape (www.goape.co.uk) adventure park, which has rope bridges, Tarzan swings and a zip slide.