A walk at Loch na Bo
Loch Na Bo is a beautiful place to walk in Moray. Located just south of Lhanbryde, this lovely woodland circuit around the man-made loch is a hidden gem just off the A96.
Despite driving the A96 thousands of times, I had never been to Loch na Bo or heard of it. There are no signs for the loch, and it doesn't seem to be openly marketed to visitors.
My wife and I decided to investigate with our three girls.
Where is the best place to park at Loch na Bo?
We found the easiest place to park at Loch na Bo (at least from the A96 side) was the Threaplands Garden Centre car park. It's a good-sized car park and is directly next to the minor road to access the trail at Loch na Bo. Why not check out Threaplands while you visit? They have exceptional breakfasts on offer.
From the Threaplands car park, we walked up the grassy slopes on the southwest side. This leads to a road that will take you to the Loch. First, you will cross a railway bridge, the main link from Aberdeen to Elgin, and then come upon two houses on your left. The first house has a beautifully kept garden.
Stay on the road, and a few minutes later, you will find some information boards about Loch na Bo; these include the two routes available and other things to look out for on your walk. There is a forest path behind these signs, but stay on the road and continue to the start of the trail.
Loch na Bo Car Park
There is actually a dedicated car park for the loch and walking route, but this can only be accessed via the south side of Loch na Bo via the B9103. If you're coming from the Rothes direction, this would be a better option than Threaplands car park, the road to the car park is a little rough, though.
Loch na Bo Route Markers
You will see a post to mark the start of the walk; this has both route colours as it is part of both trails. The route markers throughout the trail could be doing with some TLC, the red and yellow paint are quite faint on both, and it would be easy to deviate from the shorter red path to the longer yellow path. Check each one closely before moving on.
Yellow Walk: 3 miles long and takes in more of the forest.
Red Walk: 2 miles long and takes you along the loch side and part of the forest.
Shortly after beginning the walk, there is an open area that is ideal for viewing the Loch and gives you a taste of the route ahead, looking to the far side. We saw many swans with their young on these still waters and a solitary heron.
Loch na Bo House
From this initial opening in the forest, we also had our first glimpse of Loch na Bo House; what a lovely building in lovely surroundings - it looked like an excellent place to stay.
I checked their website when I returned home and discovered it's possible to stay at the house... it's definitely marketed to the richer holidaymakers; a three-night stay for two guests in October was £1610!
Walking at Loch na Bo
Continuing our walk, we saw a diverse range of wildlife, including squirrels. The path is quite interesting, too; some sections are covered in branches creating spooky tunnels, some areas pass tall old trees (said to have been planted by the Earl of Fife), and other areas lead you to other areas of water away from the main loch itself.
About halfway through the walk, we arrived at a wall built into the side of the Loch; there was some overflow, I guess due to the man-made nature of the loch. Water must flow in and out at set points to maintain the water level.
We decided to sit on this wall and have our picnic; it was a good spot as we had a wide-open view of the loch, too, and there were no dedicated picnic spots we could see along the route.
The walk continued through more forested sections with tall pines. The kids loved spotting all the different forms of funghi along the route.
One area had a lot of damaged plants with huge leaves. I wonder if this is an invasive plant species, there was obviously a concerted effort by the estate owners to keep this under control.
About halfway through the walk, we found the actual car park for Loch na Bo; it had a similar sign marking the trails. There is enough space here for about eight cars.
Passing the car park, we came to the part of the Lochnabo House private grounds; a well-kept lawn and wooden deer sculpture can be seen over all the warning signs about CCTV and DO NOT ENTER.
Now walking along the east side of the loch forest, we noticed another body of water to our immediate right. There were many dragonflies; the audible thrum of their wings made seeing them easy, but they were too fast to photograph on this occasion.
The walk took us back to the main entrance road to Lochnabo House and eventually to the original route information board. We walked back to Threaplands car park, having thoroughly enjoyed our walk at Loch na Bo.
2021 Access Controversy
While researching our visit to Loch na Bo, I found that access to Loch na Bo had been illegally restricted in April 2021. The Estate owners had erected a fence in two places, restricting access to the popular walk.
This contravened the Scottish "Land Reform Act 2003", which grants the public access to most land and inland bodies of water.
Moray's MSP Richard Lochhead commented:
"Loch na Bo Woodland Walks are very popular with locals here in Moray and I am disappointed that in this day and age the landowner has decided to erect barriers to prevent access."
"This is the 21st century yet this is something that would be expected from 18th century feudal barons."
Thankfully on our visit in September 2022, there was no trace of the barrier, and we could walk freely around the loch. The estate owners do not seem to like visitors; there are warnings of CCTV at all access points to the house, even the more hidden ones at the water's edge.
Perhaps there had been problems with littering or lousy behaviour but blocking the entire site to the public seems a bit over the top.
What wildlife can be seen at Loch na Bo?
Swans and cygnets
Daubenton (water) bat
Buzzard / Heron
Are there picnic tables at Loch na Bo?
We did not see any picnic tables at any point on the trail. Instead, we decided to have our picnic on the wall about a quarter of the way into the walk.
Are there bathrooms at Loch na Bo?
No, Threaplands Garden Centre would be the closest.
Is the Loch na Bo trail suitable for wheelchairs?
Sadly not, the ground is quite soft in places, and many areas of the path are covered in tree roots. One possibility could be to walk from Threaplands to the beginning of the walk; the tarmac road is perfect for wheelchairs; near the start of the trail, the open clearing would at least give a view of the loch.
Who owns Loch na Bo House?
Andrea Tennant is the current owner of Loch na Bo house and runs the property with her children, Flora and Andrew.
Fishing at Loch na Bo
Only boat fishing is permitted on Loch na Bo, and only three are available, so book in advance. Naturally spawned wild trout reside here in two strains: browns with golden bellies and the more silvery sea trout-like variety. The loch has not been restocked since 1960, but the trout spawn naturally and replenish stocks. The fish here are descendants of Loch Leven trout, introduced in 1946.
It's said there is a monster trout living in the loch. Could you be the first to catch the "The Loch no Bo Monster"?
There is minimal information about fishing on Loch na Bo, but I would contact the estate at email@example.com for availability and costs.
How to get to Loch na Bo
As mentioned earlier in the article, the best place to park from the A96 is the Threaplands Garden Centre car park, and then walk up the road to the loch. You cannot drive up this road.
If you want to park in the dedicated car park for the loch, turn down the Rothes road from the A96 instead.
If coming from the south, follow the B9103 and this road to the car park. It is not well signposted at all.
Loch na Bo Video
Here is a short video clip taken at Loch na Bo.
We had an excellent walk around Loch na Bo; it's an easy walk and ideal for families with young children. The loch is beautiful; there is so much wildlife to see in the waters and forests.
Loch Oire is a short distance east of Threaplands but doesn't have well-established walking routes.
If you like Loch na Bo, why not check out Millbuies Country Park, near Elgin? It is another highly scenic man-made loch with forested shores (and great fishing).
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