Paddleboarding on Loch Ard – A Gentle Spring SUP
Sitting just a few kilometres west of Aberfoyle, and in the shadow of some of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park’s most beautiful hilltops, Loch Ard is undoubtedly a special place for walkers, cyclists, fisherman and more. This Sunday it also became a special place for us, as we took the day to explore each island, inlet and rock face that the loch had to offer.
Parking in the visitor carpark, we walked our boards along the forest path to our launch-point – a tiny little beach across from Corrienessan Cottage. This is a nice place to start your tour of the loch as it builds you up to the most stunning views, and gives you a calm body of water to get settled in.
From here, we navigated the reeds and underwater plants until we were gently paddling through The Narrows. To our left, a Woodpecker was rhythmically drumming on a nearby pine; to the right, crooked trees clung to the river bank, their first buds peering up into the sky; and then, beneath us, the strong spring sunshine cast an amber glow across the rocks, catching glimpses of sediment, leaf and beastie as it flowed on.
The short paddle through The Narrows brings you out to a small opening with a large house and gardens settled across the hill on your right. This area, as indeed the whole loch, was very shallow, meaning that our fins did take a few scrapings as we traversed this body of water. This area is special, too, as the doorway to the main loch is fronted with a view of the snow-capped Ben Lomond.
We stopped at this view for a moment, taking in its immensity, it’s Alp-like dominance across the skyline.
Once suitably overwhelmed, we continued through to the main loch, where several small islands sit to the left and unique rock formations jut out from the cliffside. While one party of paddlers had settled on the largest of the islands, we were put off the remaining two by a couple of nesting geese who were unsettled by our proximity. We watched their sleek black necks peer over the grass to observe us, and paddled quietly in the other direction.
These tall, slender birds nest between March and June, so it was likely that our presence was unwelcome as a nest lay nearby, camouflaged somewhere between grass and granite.
As the sun became diluted by clouds, and a brisk wind began churning up the exposed areas of the loch, we decided to turn back towards The Narrows. But even against the wind, with a chill now settling in our fingertips, the beauty of the loch was still in the forefront of our minds.
Loch Ard in Summary
On a gentle day, this loch provides the perfect place for beginner paddlers to gain confidence. The many access points to the shore provide a sense of security, and the nature of the loch means that there are plenty sheltered areas to practice standing, step-back turns, and any other goals one might have.
What’s more, the popularity of the loch means that you are seldom alone on the water. In the few hours that we were out, we passed more than 10 paddleboarders, as well as some friendly kayak-fishers, wild swimmers and cyclists. This certainly added to our enjoyment, as we waved paddles, exchanged smiles and gawked at fruitful morning catches from the comfort of our boards.
The only downside to this loch, and it really is the only downside, is parking. The spaces provided are quite limited, so I would recommend getting there early to secure yourself a place. If successful, you will then need to walk approximately 5 minutes with your board to get to the launch-point. For myself, not much taller than 5’5″, this proved a little difficult as I was conscious of not gaining any new stratches, scrapes or (dare I say it) punctures.
That all said, the arm workout of carrying my board had little effect on my overall experience at Loch Ard, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with a free morning and a love for wildlife.
Time Spent: 2.5 hours
Shore Access from Loch: 5/5
Beauty & Wildlife: 5/5
Overall: 5/5 (if you’re happy to carry your board to the water!)