Circular Walk by Loch Ard
When you live in Scotland you really have to make the most of the good weather, particularly at the end of September. So it was that we finished work at lunchtime and headed off down the road to Aberfoyle. A look at the map showed a car park at the east end of the Loch that also had some walking routes. We've not been to Loch Ard since March, when we walked at the other end. This route was much better - it being well waymarked, giving stunning views across the loch and with a lot of interest. You can download maps of the walks in the area from the Forestry Commission site here.
There is a large car park at the start of the walk, with a good information board, showing the three walks available. We chose the medium route - waymarked in red, which is 4 miles long and we set off along the forestry road uphill. This was easy underfoot, surrounded by lovely woodland. It was mainly coniferous woods, with a floor of moss, lichens and ferns.
As usual I had my binoculars with me. This is often a conversation opener with other walkers, asking what we looking for. I never really know, but we were very pleased to see a mixed flock of birds in the birches at the edge of the conifers. The binoculars meant I could identify these as long-tailed tits, blue tits, chaffinches, goldcrests and dunnock.
We stopped for our lunch at a picnic table by Lochan a' Ghleannin and a sharp shower blew across us - we were pleased we had a flask and were not making a brew-up from scratch.
We were soon on our way along the forestry track, still going uphill, but not for much further. The red route soon dipped down to right and on to a much more interesting path through the woods.
As we moved down through the woods and towards the shore of Loch Ard we didn't know where to look. Looking up and away we were rewarded with views across the loch and to the hills beyond. Looking at the woodland floor revealed a micro-world of fungi and ferns, indicating that this is an ancient woodland, so typical of the area. I was soon lagging well behind Peter as I tried to get down to the woodland floor level to take some photos.
The route hugged the loch shore and I was intrigued by Little Loch Ard, the area between 'the narrows' and the village of Milton, which looks like it has been set up for outdoor swimming. One to look out for next summer I think. The stream that leaves the loch at Milton is the River Forth and you follow it for a short while before you loop round to complete the circuit. We were pleased that we chose to go anti-clockwise round the route as the most interesting sections were in the second half. Had we gone the other way I think we would have found the long forestry road a bit dull in comparison with the path by the loch.
At the car park this route was described as a sculpture trail, I think we must have been missing something because we only spotted two sculptures on the route - not that we were bothered because the nature was quite sufficient - but just be warned that following in our footsteps at least will not give you a great artisitc adventure!
Distance: 6.7 km
Difficulty: Easy (steep hill)
Terrain: Good forest tracks
Long Tailed Tit