Ardgualich, By Pitlochry, Perthshire PH16 5NS
Ardgualich Farm is one of those rough-around-the-edges anachronisms you cannot help but like. The simple site has been run by the same family since the Second World War came to a close and has somehow managed to rumble on into the 21st century still enjoying the epic scenery that first lured Queen Victoria to Loch Tummel back in the 19th century.
Queen Victoria fell in love with Loch Tummel to such an extent that she would scarcely let a trip to her beloved Scotland pass by without visiting at least once. Today, the spot where she used to regally perch and survey the silvery shadow of the loch is fittingly dubbed the ‘Queen’s View’ - though not, as you may think, for Victoria, but probably for Robert the Bruce’s wife, Queen Isabella, who used to rest in nearby woods when she was out and about doing royal things.
With numerous whisky distilleries nearby, world-class salmon and succulent local beef all wrapped around heather-clad hills and mountains, it is easy to see why any queen in any century with a penchant for living the good life was drawn here.
The old farm has been joined by a collage of caravans and some static homes, but there is still some room for campers. There is a family-orientated field near the reception, but head right down the hill for the best spots. You can pitch your tent in the soft verges that fringe Loch Tummel, with only the sinewy sandy beaches and the lapping waves for company.
While sitting by the water’s edge is enough for some, others choose to get in. Campers can bring their own small boats or canoes, though jet skis are mercifully banned. There is no launch charge at Ardgualich, leaving you free to explore the nooks and crannies of Loch Tummel at your own pace. Campers can also enjoy a free fishing permit. After a day spent reeling them in, you can explore your primitive hunter-gatherer instincts and feast on freshly caught barbecued fish.
Some of Loch Tummel’s most famous inhabitants can be found above it rather than in it. Ospreys are now thriving around the shores of the loch after years of decline, when the very survival of these impressive birds of prey in Scotland was in doubt. Other flourishing residents you are likely to encounter are roe deer, who have been known to slip into the site and startle campers who wake to discover them nosing around in their breakfast supplies.
Today Ardgualich Farm, being a campsite, may not exactly have all the luxuries fit for a queen - and some tent campers may roll their eyes at the surrounding static caravans, and at an unattractive road barrier at the edge of the campsite. But what this place does offer, if you bag one of the loch-side pitches, is a stripped-down camping experience with regal loch views. You can get back to basics and barbecue your own fish as you idle your time away admiring the scenery and the wildlife. Queen Victoria’s ghost, as it wistfully haunts the hills above, will no doubt be ever-so-slightly jealous.
The Owner Says
Beautiful and lovely
We had such a nice stay here, it is soooo beautiful at the loch, and the indeed lovely owner helped us out since we had no reservation but she did find us a gorgeous place in the end. All the people we met here were so friendly, funny and easy going. The showers and toilets are not so impressive clean as they were in the rest of Scotland, but the view and the relaxed athmosphere compensated this completely. We definetely come back here!
Popping the Tummel cherry
We booked on a whim, and arrived about six, there's a real easy check in, and a great loch side pitch.
The owner she was lovely, and the regulars were too. We opened up some bubbly, and were leant a great canoe.
The site was nice and simple, without a host of tricks. If you're after table service, I'd suggest you choose the Ritz.
You cannot book the weather, this is Scotland after all. But we're booking up forever, 'cause Ardgualich has it all.
I stayed here with my wife and four kids in early August 2015. It's a really relaxed place and the owner was very friendly and welcoming. We'd asked for a pitch down by the loch side and the owner had kindly kept as a spot there despite us arriving much later than we said we would, and no shortage of customers looking for a pitch. The view down the loch is truly special; try to get a pitch down there or at the opposite end of the park which has some pitches with views up to the other end of the lake. You can walk to Queen's View along the loch; the path is uneven but there's a great rope swing which the kids will love. Great coffee at Queens View cafe btw.
Basic but Amazing
We have just arrived home from a fantastic 3 nights at this site. On arrival we were greeted by a friendly woman who told us we were welcome to pitch anywhere....the romantic in me chose to pitch right out on the point, overlooking the water, a beautiful pitch where I would be able to open my tent and just gaze out. However the wind had a totally different idea to me and what ensued was extremely close to power kite flying! After entertaining the other campers for two hours, yes I am that stubborn, we gave it up as a bad job and moved location to the main camping area. Another beautiful and pituresque area overlooking the boats. So just a wee warning to all other romantics out there.....the point may look stunning and appealing but it puts up a mean fight!
The amenities on this site are basic but there are flushing toilets, hot running water and showers.....it did take some getting used to the water being brown as it came straight from a natural spring. But we were assured that the owner's dad had drunk it all his life and lived to be over 90 ☺
Would we return again? Most definitely! If only to have another crack at pitching my tent on the point
We had a fantastic week end here at the end of July. The very welcoming owner let us decide where to pitch our tent and we were lucky enough to have the point jutting out into the loch. It felt as though we were on our own! Our 7-year-old soon found plenty of friends though. Can't comment on the showers as we swam in the loch both mornings - absolute bliss. This is the second time we have been to this site, and we will definitely return. Highly recommended.
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Just back from an amazing family camping weekend at this stunningly picturesque camp site. We were met by the owner, who was very friendly and welcoming. She let us have a wander around the site and discuss where we should pitch our tents. She was very co-operative and easy going, clearly concerned that we should be happy with our choice of location. We were fortunate to arrange our tents at the bottom of the hill near the water, which provided a beautiful view of the loch, surrounding hills and local wildlife. We were also lucky to have lovely weather which meant lots of time splashing about in the loch and time to simply chillout and relax. This campsite has been a brilliant find for our family. We have camped as a large group in various locations around Scotland for many years. This campsite was by far the best one and we will definitely return here in the future.
We have just spent 3 nights here and had a fantastic time. We were a large party with 3 large tents and cooking tent and were given the pick of the sites by the very welcoming lady from reception and then left in peace the whole weekend. Whether you want a quiet relaxing weekend with amazing views of Loch Tummel and the surrounding hills or a lively weekend with access to fishing or fun in the water, this site is a must. We will definately be back.
Just returned from a fantastic weekend at the site with my 10 year old daughter. Luckily I knew someone to call on who was familiar with Ardgualich, as the 2 postcodes advertised on websites didn't take me there! Anyway, stopping en-route at the Queens View for photos, we arrived at the beautiful site, with 2 nights booked, and met the male owner who was very welcoming and keen to direct us and chat. There were a number of caravans and statics, and no other tents, so we got our pick of the campsite, choosing a spot under a tree since it was rather overcast and drizzly, also very close to the loch. We spent the whole day lazing around, trying a spot of fishing (unsuccessfully), wandering around the area and taking some lovely time out. On day 2, we had a jaunt to nearby Kinloch Rannoch, bumping into some runaway sheep and red squirrels. Unfortunately, by teatime, i decided we had to pack up and go home, as my hayfever won the battle and I was pretty ill. The female owner was sympathetic and even refunded my 2nd night, which I wasn't expecting. we will definitely return, maybe with a couple of friends next time. i would only like to comment that perhaps a small play area for kids would be a consideration, (even just a swing or 2) as I was a bit nervous about taking my eyes off my book for more than a minute, as my daughter played/paddled close to the waters edge, which was her only entertainment. Thanks again Ardgualich, see you soon.
Despite the completely failed experience, it must be said that the location is good. Close to the water and a good potential to hike in the nearby area. But the trip was completely ruined by the absolutely terrible manners of the staff, giving abuse for our misconception of the park allocation, calling us, and I quote "cheeky" in an aggressive manner. The facilities offered by the park are of the same standard as their politeness. Moving to another place was, for us, the only way to safe the trip.
Response from campsite owner:
We are disappointed by the review as the only party asked to leave by us were neither booked nor had any intentions of booking on to the site. The group spent the afternoon enjoying a favourite camping spot while members of their party canoed. When approached for a second time to enquire as to their plans, they were impudent and were then told to leave. We are happy to receive constructive comments by genuine campers who have stayed on to the site and not by a group that were chancing their luck.
Rough and ready and perfect location. Stunning position of shores of loch, easy launching and trip up loch worthwhile. Pitches good sized, friendly easy going site, would definitely return. Facilities basic but good.
Excellent location which, despite arriving on a Friday evening in mid-August, had plenty of choices of pitch.
Can't really understand the negative comments about the site and crash barrier. The owners are obviously making a real effort to continue to improve the site and it is very well maintained.
The relaxed, yet professional approach of the owners makes a refreshing change from some of the stuffy, rule-heavy sites we've been to.
Excellent access for water-based activities, such as kayaking, fishing and so on. Good amenities within easy striking distance and plenty hills for walkers to enjoy within easy reach too, including Schiehallion, Ben Vrackie, Beinn a'Ghlo, etc.
Felt under no pressure to leave on our day of departure...and made the most of it! ;-)
Fantastic site that we'll have no hesitation in returning to.
We have just spent three amazing nights at Ardgualich farm.
1. The scenery wow what can I say outstanding
2. The welcome very good staff so helpful even could tell us where to have a puncture on
the car fixed
3. The facilities these are fairly basic but fully functional just what we required.
4. The pitches some are a little rocky and hilly but if you pick a good spot it is great.
5. Very dog friendly we have 2 dogs and it suited them brilliantly.
6. They are having some work done around reception area so there is some machinery
around but the work or the machinery did not make our stay any less wonderful
7. The wildlife again wow red deer a plenty.
Would we return most definitely can't think of a more relaxing place to be even in the rain
which we had on one day. However there is no freezer or shop so be prepared. Again this
didn't put us off.
I had a couple of nights here in early August and thought it was a brilliant spot. Apart from the views and the easy access to the loch the best bit was the friendly, relaxed approach of the owner. I’d spent a week camping before this and was dismayed at the ’welcome’ received on my sites - presented with a long list of rules and having to part with sometimes ridiculous sums of money. Although the toilets/showers did get a bit busy at peak times this was not a major problem and I can’t wait to go back - a good, old fashioned camp site with a warm welcome.
It's an odd one this.... I do tend to agree with a lot that the last reviewer said and perhaps this place has been slightly over-sold (and certainly the photos only show it in the best light).
It's a hard one to rate - I have given it a 2 star but it's an average as follows:
Situation/view - 5 star (very beautiful - right on Loch Tummel)
Campsite aesthetics (of campsite itself) - 1 star (Not beautiful - lots of caravans/statics. Fair amount of building stuff about. See also crash barrier below!)
Facilties - 2 star (but can happily live with facilities.. basic facilities but ok. )
Space/pitches - 1 star (this is my main gripe - see below)
There really is only one small main camping field which can take about maybe 6-7 good size pitches. And even that is probably being generous and doesn't give much space or privacy. This field is, I think, artificial since they have levelled an area leading down to the loch. It's edged by a not-very-attractive crash barrier (yes, the type used along side a road) to prevent cars etc heading in to the loch! And still very much ringed by caravans/statics. This was filled up even on an end of September weekend. One could easily be disappointed in the summer.
There is room for a few very small family tents or backpacking tents on the small rough ridge to the right of this field. And there is room for one or two tents on the right of the campsite to the left of the launching slipway (but a bit stony).
The field on the right of the campsite to the right of the track is NOT ok - definitely way too slopey for camping (with the exception of one small knoll which might fit one tiny backpacking tent). The photo referred to is misleading. You would have to velcro your sleeping bag to your camping mat.
Conclusion - would I return? The situation is great on the loch but the downsides are significant. So, probably not - especially if I could find a better alternative within reasonable distance. For others, I would perhaps give it a chance if I really needed to be in this location and I was in a small tent so could squeeze in on the ridge.
Alternatives - I haven't been (yet) but looks like Kilvrecht on Loch Rannoch (further west) might be a 'cooler' option? Run by Forestry Commission with very basic facilities - wild camping with toilets basically. Link below.
I’m just back from a lovely overnight stay at this campsite. I was slightly worried when we first arrived as the overall first impression was that we had made a wrong turn into a building site, with odd piles of sand and random planks of wood scattered around. When we finally identified which of the buildings was reception (is it so hard to put up a sign?) we were greeted by a lovely lady who told us we could choose where to pitch, and took us out to have a look at the site. After ruling out one field which was already quite full of tents at the waters edge, and the rest of it a bit of a quagmire, she showed us the other tent pitches on a sloping field which had two good spaces left next to the water. We were quite happy with one of these and we had a spectacular view of Loch Tummel and a perfect view of the sunset. This campsite has an old fashioned relaxed feel to it, its a bit rough round the edges, but we found everyone to be friendly and respectful of each other. The toilets and showers were portakabin chic, but clean with piping hot water. I would recommend this campsite to any easy going camper who doesn’t mind making do, the location more than makes up for it.
My family camped on this site with 6 other families as part of a group booking. In total we were a group of 33 including 19 children. We were slightly concerned about the previous post however we decided to give it a try as we had found lots of other positive reviews on line. We paid a deposit to secure our booking and the owners were friendly when we contacted them. The site is quite basic with no shops or play park and it feels remote despite being only a short distance from Pitlochry. The toilet facilities were good and were cleaned regularly. The site is divided into small areas naturally by the landscape and although a large part of the site is given over to caravans the tent area feels very seperate. The scenery is spectacular and the pitches look right over the loch. The children didn’t need a play area and found their own entertainment running wild in the fresh air. A word of warning though if you have small children, the campsite is elevated from the water’s edge which means there is quite a drop into the water at some points. Luckily for us the midges weren’t too bad and we didn’t encounter any angry caravan owners. We would all recommend this site and will use it again.