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Loch Ard

Loch Ard is about 3 mile long and averages just under 0.5 mile wide with a much wider part at the western end.

Loch Ard is about 4 miles west of Aberfoyle on the narrow B829 road leading to Inversnaid and Stronachlachar . The loch is in three parts separated by narrower channels. The loch is the source of the River Forth. On the west side, in the forest are miles of cycle tracks and footpaths around Loch Ard and a sculpture trail forms part of the routes in the forest.

Taking the three parts of Loch Ard, from east to west, the first two parts look comparatively small but interesting and are at their best in Spring and Autumn. The third part is much larger and offers extensive views over the water to the mountains between Loch Ard and Loch Lomond.

A little way west of Aberfoyle on a narrow winding country road is the small village of Milton. A left turn at Milton leads past an old mill to a car park giving access to forest trails and cycle routes.

Many of the forest trails were created for timber operations and can go on for miles before coming to a dead end, forcing you to re-trace your steps. Avoid this by making sure you have the appropriate map(s) with you and know how to use your map with a compass.

If you stay on the main road at Milton, within a few hundred yards you get your first glimpse of Loch Ard at Dundarroch where a small jetty with a view up the first part of Loch Ard to Ben Lomond often stops visitors in their tracks - although there is no-where to park a car. On a calm evening at sunset, the views here - and photos - can be astounding.

A little further on there are some very photogenic boathouses although these are seen to best effect from the south shore.

For a short way the road leaves the lochside but when you next see the loch there is a small space where you can park for yet another astounding view looking toward Ben Lomond. Unfortunately a high wire fence here restricts access to the best vantage points.

After following the lochside road for a little over a mile you reach Kinlochard village - a resort here offers some indoor sporting facilities whilst an outdoor activity centre provides a range of activities; sailing, kayaking, quadbiking, climbing and abseiling.

Just beyond Kinlochard a wide track leads of to the left providing further access to the forest walks and cycleroutes.

On the South side of Loch Ard there are several islands, including one with a castle ruin on it. This is Murdoch's Castle which 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 is thought to have been built in the early 15th century. It is only accessible by water, and is a popular landing point for canoeists.