Loch Katrine - Loch Ard circular route

Loch ArdIn the heart of the Trossachs with magnificent landscapes shaped by nature, and immortalised in poetry by Sir Walter Scott, this area is ideal for a challenging day out cycling. In the summer, this route can be combined with a boat trip on the 'SS Sir Walter Scott' or the 'Lady of the Lake' that take sight-seeing trips around Loch Katrine. This is a challenging 35 mile route, with some steep accents through the Achray Forest and sections with very little amenities; caution should be exercised when attempting this route and cyclists should take sensible clothing.

Route Details

  • Distance: 35 miles
  • Time needed: 5 hours
  • Classification: Hard
  • Traffic: Moderate traffic levels in summer along road sections.
  • Surface: Mixed
  • National Cycle Network: Route 7
  • Cycle hire: Katrine Wheelz at Trossachs Pier - 01877 376366 (summer only)  and Go Country in Kinlochard - 01877 387750
  • Access: Train station at Balloch

Route Description

Head north out of Aberfoyle on Route 7. After a short distance on road, you join cycle track through the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. A slight detour takes you to the David Marshall Lodge Visitor Centre. The Centre has lots of information on the area, as well as being your last chance to stock up on any refreshments for the journey.

Alternatively, start from the Visitor Centre and take one of the tracks down to join National Route 7 as it comes up from Aberfoyle. By a waterfall, turn over the bridge and join the forest track, which winds up the hill. Occasional clearings give you glimpses of the surrounding scenery, including the Menteith Hills. You will cycle around Loch Drunkie, a beautiful small loch, which makes the perfect place to stop, picnic and take-in the scenery. If you can sit still for a while, you may see red squirrels, deer, woodpeckers, or even ospreys (during summer).

Just less than a mile beyond Loch Drunkie the route splits from National Route 7 (which switches back on itself to travel along the shores of loch Venachar)and heads westwards towards Loch Achray. Before reaching Loch Achray there is a small track to the right that leads towards brig O' Turk and refreshments at the Burgh Inn pub. The route skirts the southern shore of Loch Achray with views of the surrounding hills and Tigh Mor Castle. Take care when the route meets the A821 (Dukes Pass) as it can be busy in the summer.

Just past the entrance to the Achray Hotel on your left, take the road west towards Loch Katrine. this route can also be be busy with the odd tour bus to watch out for. After a mile, Loch Katrine and the Visitor Centre come into view (during the summer months, the Visitor Centre offers a number of facilities including the Captains Rest Cafe, Katrine Wheelz Bike Hire and Trossachs Pier is where tickets can be purchased for boat trips across the Loch).

From the Visitor Centre car park, take the loch side path with your camera ready for shots of some incredible scenery. The Loch Katrine lochside route is a private road with only a few residents' motor vehicles allowed. Tarmac surface all the way - easy and level at first near the Trossachs Pier end but one or two steep sections further west will force less fit cyclists to get off and shove for a while. Beware steep downhill sections as there are occasional cars and some corners have restricted visibility. On the way round make sure to look out for the Clan MacGregor burial ground on an island accessed by a causeway near the west end of the loch. Just beyond this point is Glengyle House, the alleged birth place of Rob Roy MacGregor.

The Loch side path takes you to Stronachlachar (the SS Sir Walter Scott makes a stop here before sailing back to Trossach Pier) where you can get tea and snacks from the 'Pier Cafe'. If you have still a lot of energy, take an excursion from the main route down the narrow road on the south side of the Loch to Queen Victoria's Royal Cottage. The cottage was built for her after she opened the water works here during the 19th Century (she never actually used it!). Retrace your steps back to Stronachlachar to rejoin the main route.

The route once again joins public roads back to Aberfoyle through the beautiful Loch Ard Forest. On the return leg make sure sure to stop off for views of Loch Chon and Loch Ard.

Optional route extension along forest roads via Loch Chon and Loch Ard

Be aware that tree harvesting takes place in the forest at certain times of the year and that logging trucks will be using the forest roads. When harvesting occurs the Forestry Commission occasionally resurface the forest roads with course gravel making these roads unsuitable for road bikes and heavily laden tourers. This route extension is hilly but climbs are rewarded by swift descents and by panoramic lochscapes and landscapes on a surface that is suitable for MTBs and hybrids. Use OS Explorer maps 364 and 365 for optional route extension. Download the Forestry Commission's free map leaflet of the Loch Ard Forest HERE

You can’t avoid the B829 completely, you have to follow it for 2½ miles from Stronachlachar. The alternative is easy to find, it begins on the right almost exactly opposite a milepost saying “Stronachlachar 2½ miles & Aberfoyle 9 miles” (see route map below for route detail). The route from this starting point descends to the level of the loch, but climbs to a point high above Kinlochard. There is no need to descend to Kinlochard, the route from this point high above Kinlochard is signposted to Aberfoyle, although it actually goes to Milton, about a mile short of Aberfoyle. There is a path alongside the B829 road between Milton and Aberfoyle for part of this distance.

Things to see and do

Natural attractions:

  • Achray Forest (Queen Elizabeth Forest Park)
  • Loch Drunkie
  • Loch Achray
  • Loch Katrine
  • Loch Chon
  • Loch Ard Forest
  • Loch Ard
  • Ben Venue

Visitor attractions:

  • David Marshall Lodge at Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
  • Go Ape! at Aberfoyle
  • Loch Katrine Visitors Centre
  • Loch Katrine boat trips on 'SS Sir Walter Scott' and the 'Lady of the Lake'
  • Clan MacGregor Burial Ground
  • Glengyle House
  • Queen Victoria's Royal Cottage
Latitude: 
56.21242879060317
Longitude: 
-4.324398748242175
Zoom level: 
11
Title: 
Buy the map
Image: 
Description: 

Map shows the National Cycle Network and local routes in this area.

Region:

In the heart of the Trossachs with magnificent landscapes shaped by nature, and immortalised in poetry by Sir Walter Scott, this area is ideal for a challenging day out cycling. This 35 mile route has some steep accents through the Achray Forest.

Length: 
35 miles