Nestled in Scotland’s central highlands – between forest-coated hills – is the sixth largest loch in the country: Loch Tay. Nearly 15 miles long, and around 1.5 miles wide, Loch Tay is in fact the largest body of water in Perth and Kinross. At its deepest point the loch is 150 metres deep.
On one end of the loch is a village called Kenmore, home to a stunning castle and quaint beaches. On the other end of the loch is Killin, a village which is popular amongst lovers of the outdoors and nature. Killin was in fact named as the second best holiday destination for wellness in the UK for 2021.
I’ve been to Loch Tay three times now and each time I visit I fall in love with it all over again. There’s something about the peaceful, laid-back vibe to the area that never fails to entice me in.
In this article, I will introduce you to my favourite things to do on Loch Tay and in the surrounding area.
Hike to the Black Rock Viewpoint
Overlooking Kenmore and Loch Tay is a forest-coated hill called Drummond Hill. It forms part of the Tay Forest Park and it is thought that this site was Scotland’s first managed forest.
There are numerous hikes you can take up Drummond Hill but my favourite is the hike to the Black Rock Viewpoint which has stunning views over Loch Tay.
The trail starts at the Drummond Hill carpark, near the courtyard to the Mains of Taymouth Estate.
The hike takes roughly 2 hours and covers a distance of nearly 3 miles. The walk takes you uphill on an uneven gravel trail which zigzags through the forest. Some parts of the trail are quite steep.
I’m not and have never been a hiker so I don’t find the trail easy. Still, it’s all worth it for the views at the viewpoint.
Once you reach the viewpoint the trail is much easier. Simply descend the hill down the same route on which you came.
The Black Rock Viewpoint hike is one of 3 hikes you can do in the area. You can view all hikes here.
Hire a Boat
Hiring a boat is a great way to see more of Loch Tay. Not only can you admire the scenery from a different perspective but it’s great fun and not super expensive.
There are several companies that you can hire a boat with on Loch Tay. I hired a small motor boat from ‘Loch Tay Boating Centre’.
There are a range of vessels to choose from including, fishing boats, motor boats, kayaks and rowing boats.
You can hire a boat for 1 hour, 3 hours or 7 hours. I opted to hire a boat for 3 hours and it cost me £55. For up to date rates, you can see Loch Tay Boating Centre’s rate card here.
You can read more about my boating experience on Loch Tay here.
Walk Round Taymouth Castle
On the outskirts of Kenmore village is a grand castle called Taymouth Castle. The castle sits in the footprint of a much older castle which dated back to 1552. That castle was demolished in the 19th century and the much larger Taymouth Castle was built in its place.
Surrounded by a golf course, Taymouth castle is touted as the most important Scottish castle in private ownership. It sits in 450 acres of land.
The castle is in fact empty and has been derelict since 1982. There have been plans for years for the castle and its golf course to be turned into a luxury hotel. However, no progress has been made. In 2018 the castle was taken over by a US property firm, following legal disputes. And so the castle and its surrounding golf course remain empty to this day. Although someone does maintain the golf course which no one is allowed to play on.
You can walk round the castle’s grounds following various paths. The paths are well-maintained. A circular walk of the grounds, starting at the centre of Kenmore village, takes a couple of hours.
Kayak Down The River Lochay
In the heart of Killin village is the Killin Outdoor Centre. From here you can hire a one or two person kayak for a couple of hours. You can view up to date kayak hire rates here.
I hired a two person kayak for 2 hours for a total of £30. Life jackets, paddles, a map of the area and a waterproof case for valuables are provided with the hire.
You will enter the water on the River Lochay and will then kayak down the river until it opens up into Loch Tay. The scenery is simply breath-taking and there are various islets within the loch where you can stop-off and wander around.
You can read all about my experience kayaking down the river to Loch Tay here.
The Birks of Aberfeldy
The Birks of Aberfeldy is a 1.5 mile circular walk around a serious of spectacular waterfalls known as the Falls of Moness. The area in fact used to be known as ‘Dens of Moness’. The name was then changed to ‘The Birks of Aberfeldy’ after famous poet Robert Burns wrote a poem with the same name, inspired by the falls. ‘Birks’ is Scottish for birch trees which are found in the thick forests which surround the falls.
The Birks of Aberfeldy are found just outside of Loch Tay, near the town of Aberfeldy.
There is a carpark at the start of the trail. From there the trail takes you through swathes of forest, forever keeping the majestic falls in sight. A good chunk of the walk is uphill and involves tackling steep steps (which seem never ending at points!). The steps can get slippery due to their close proximity to waterfalls.
The views throughout the walk are gorgeous, especially the view of the highest falls.
You can expect the walk to take roughly 2 hours.
Swim in Loch Tay
If you are visiting Loch Tay in the summer and the weather is warm enough, a dip in the loch is a very fun (albeit cold) activity to try.
The main beach in Kenmore village gets quite busy in the summer with people who are keen to brave the waters.
I’d always recommend swimming where there are lots of people. This gives a good indication of how safe the area is to swim and means help is on hand should you get into trouble.
First and foremost, consider wearing a buoyancy aid, especially if you are a weak or inexperienced swimmer.
For swimming in temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius, a wetsuit is recommended.
Always wear water-shoes as there can be sharp rocks and twigs under the water.
Take things slowly, especially if you’re not used to swimming in cold water. There’s no shame in just dipping your toes in!
The water may be cold but there is something very liberating about swimming in fresh water. I may not be sold entirely on the touted health benefits but I am sold on it being fun!
Those are my favourite activities to do around Loch Tay.
Have you been to Loch Tay before? What are your favourite things to do in the area?