Loch Tay in Scotland, surrounded by mist capped mountains, is just stunning and the wealth of activities available nearby make it a fabulous destination for the whole family to enjoy. We visit Loch Tay regularly and it’s simply impossible to get bored. Less than two hours drive from both Glasgow and Edinburgh Loch Tay makes for a great day out, a weekend break or indeed a main family holiday.
Killin at the western head of the loch is a lovely traditional village most famous for the stepped Falls of Dochart where it’s now mandatory to stop for selfies. The village itself is well worth a wee wander with a few nice shops and we ate at the Killin Hotel but to be frank the food at the Falls of Dochart Inn looked a lot nicer! Next time.
About five miles east of Killin, at Loch Tay Highland Lodges (where we were staying) we rented kayaks and canoes from Legend Sailing which are great fun for all the family. Although my daughter was reluctant as she has never quite forgiven me for tipping her out of a canoe into the River Charente on her 3rd birthday. Which gave both of us a bit of a fright tbh…
At Loch Tay Highland Lodges marina, there’s a really nice Italian bistro which we can thoroughly recommend to eat in or take out. Pizzas are just £5 each to take away which is fantastic value. Loch Tay Highland Lodges also have really fast Rib inflatable boat which you can rent from £50 (seats 8) for a frantic adrenaline-fuelled 20 minutes or a gentle cruise around the loch. The loch has several families of nesting Osprey to look out for, which we did see but couldn’t photo satisfactorily. Boats can be rented on site (for about £60/day) and there’s archery too. You can hire bikes here or there’s a 3 mile circular walk up the hillside with gorgeous views of the Loch. All activities here will need to be pre-booked. Quad biking and canyoning can be booked on site too, which take place nearby.
If you’re feeling really adventurous there is, of course, magnificent Monroe, Ben Lawers to hike up which apparently takes a full day to ‘bag’. We’re fully intending to do this, once we’ve offloaded our youngest, the whingiest walker in the world, onto granny for the day. Ben Lawers is gorgeous but on this occasion, the weather didn’t bless us with too many photo opportunities.
At the far eastern end of Loch Tay is the Scottish Crannog Centre, a must-visit for all the family. Crannogs were typical Scottish roundhouses 2-3000 years ago and were built on stilts and linked to the shore by a wooden walkway. The remains of more than 20 Crannogs have been detected around Loch Tay and here at the Crannog Centre there is a recreated Crannog as well as a museum displaying the archaeological finds made in the loch. Enthusiastic guides dressed in authentic Bronze Age clothing demonstrate life as it was at the time. Our children thoroughly enjoyed their visit here, especially the real life demonstrations and hands on activities such as starting a fire without matches or a lighter!
At this end of the Loch you can rent dragon pedalos from the marina or enjoy a Loch Tay Safari. Taymouth has several hotels, restaurants and coffee shops. There’s a sandy(ish) beach where you can while away a very pleasant hour or two, just letting the kids throw pebbles into the water, then grab an ice cream from the cafe. The cafe has a tired old mini-golf course too, if you can keep a straight face.
If you are at the Taymouth end of Loch Tay you are just a few miles from Highland Safaris, an activity centre where you can go on 4×4 treks into the mountains and spot red deer. Although we still haven’t yet done a safari, there’s a nice cafe here and our children really enjoyed panning for gold and ‘gemstones’.
So if you’re visiting Loch Tay just for the day, we’d recommend the Crannog, a boat ride and a play on the beach for a wonderful family day out. Of course, don’t forget to stop for a selfie at the Falls of Dochart!
Where to stay?
We stayed at Loch Tay Highland Lodges, in a lovely two bed lodge with loch views. The site also offers woodland cabins, glamping pods and a bothy. This well-kept, relaxed holiday park on the shores of the loch has a bistro, watersports galore, a putting green and frisbee golf. We couldn’t recommend it any more highly for families with young children.
By JW Patrick.