Loch is an Ard act to follow: From kayaking to crafts, Trossachs resort serves up thrills and watery spills galore

I’M teetering at the top of a 15ft inflatable tower.

Below on a floating platform my 10-year-old daughter waits impatiently. She is eager for me to leap on and jettison her into the chilly waters of Loch Ard – at least that’s the game plan given to us by staff at Go Country Water Park.

Checking out my middle-aged bulk – squeezed into a black-and-white wetsuit – it dawns on me that if I go through with it, my kid could end up in Loch Katrine 10 miles away.

So I chicken out and, shame-faced, slide back into the clear water. “Wise move,” says my husband a little later as I’m sipping a Pimm’s on the terrace of the luxury Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel and Spa at Aberfoyle.

This is not an attempt to assuage my guilt. Collapsing into hysterical laughter, he adds: “I felt a Free Willy moment coming on!”

He’s not far off the mark. There’s a whale of a time to be had at this elegant countryside haven set amid rolling hills and woodland and overlooking the majestic loch.

A short walk through the 25-acre Macdonald resort’s manicured grounds – where pretty pathways lead to water features and lawn games like chess and checkers – takes guests to Go Country, a charitable organisation which offers a host of reasonably-priced activities for all the family.

The hotel oozes rural elegance

My girl and I take our own wetsuits for our adventure although the outdoor outfit provides everything needed for its activities.

She tackles the floating trampoline, assault course, tower and giant slide with great gusto, splashing into the loch whenever she loses her balance and giggling uncontrollably as her old mum flails about, struggling to muster the upper body strength needed to climb onto the floats.

We were spoiled for our choice of activities. Go Country also provides a giant Hamster Ball, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, rock and country sports.

And the hotel has plenty on offer too. Its family activity programme has everything from clay pigeon shooting, yoga and badminton, to wine and whisky tasting and craft classes.

Fitness fans can enjoy its well-equipped gym, as well as the sauna and steam room, while its Rafters Bar and Bistro offers air hockey, darts, and pool.

There is live music too. And children have an absolute ball at the hotel’s kids’ club.

So while my family head off to the indoor pool for more Splash Time (floats and other fun inflatables are supplied Sundays to Fridays from 12.30 to 2pm) I take to the spa for some Sole Delight (a total sensory experience for feet) and a fabulous deep tissue back massage – heaven! In the AA rosette-starred Garden Restaurant we dine on seafood chowder, butter-basted belly of pork with cream savoy cabbage and square cut rump of Perthshire lamb, with fine wines ably recommended by our knowledgeable and impeccably mannered waiter.

Liqueurs are taken in front of a crackling fire in the panelled drawing room.

Then, with the moon streaking the deep, dark waters of the loch silver, we head back to our sumptuous suite; a comforting blend of rich tartan and warm mahogany, where a dreamy king-sized bed, fluffy robes and slippers await. Even the pillows are award-winning!


An overnight bed and breakfast stay for two guests at the Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel and Spa starts from £113 in low season and £163 in high season. Visit

Telephone: 0344 879 9057

A 90-minute session at the Go Country Water Park costs £14, including wetsuits and shoes. Advance booking is necessary. Visit gocountry.co.uk Tel: 01877 387 750.