The shores of Loch Tay were at one time the home to many small farming communities but these were largely destroyed in the times of the 'Highland Clearances' and later by economic factors. See 'Lady of Lawers' for the prophesies which came to pass - and one which still has to happen! The main road follows the north shore from Killin to Kenmore, high above the loch and passing through the villages of Lawers and Fearnan. The south loch road is the more scenic option with a little single track road leaving the main road at Killin, next to the Falls of Dochart, then passing through the tiny hamlets of Ardeonaig, Ardtalnaig and Acharn before re-joining the main road at Kenmore.
Many remains of these small communities can still be seen on the lochsides and on the hills above the loch, and noteably in the remains of the old village of Lawers on the shore south of the modern Lawers village, and hillside shielings used by the farming communities during the summer. Signs of earlier communities may also be observed in the shape of ancient stone circles, standing stones and carved 'ring and cup' markings on the rocks, noteably on the northern shores.
It's worth making a visit to Cloichran - once a farming community established by soldiers recruited by one of the Lairds of Breadalbane who were given the land by the Laird on their return. The community was later subjected to 'clearance' in 1834 by one of his successors. The ruins - on the slopes of the south loch side - can be accessed about 3/4 mile east of the Firbush point field centre (which is 2 mile east of Killin) via a narrow track on the south side of the road about 100 yards past the bridge over a burn.
The ruins are mainly in two parts - the first near to the red roofed sheep shelter and the second part about 200 yards south west of the red roof. There are one or two other buildings further up the hillside but more to the east.
There were a number of Crannogs in Loch Tay (dwellings on stilts or artificial islands.) Remains of one of these may be seen near the old Killin Pier. Also at Acharn village is a replica of a Crannog, created using the same methods of construction as were used by the original 'Crannog People' in the distant past of loch Tay.
In the early part of the 20th century a steamer plied the loch and many small piers can be seen along the lochside. In 2005 a modern steamer should have been launched to offer cruises on the loch reminiscent of those of Victorian times. The steamer (at Feb 2008) was still awaiting completion between Fearnan and Kenmore and may be seen at the picnic area half a mile from Kenmore. When complete it is intended that the steamer, which has a restaurant on board, will be used to provide pleasure trips on Loch Tay.
At Acharn village, it's worth taking a short break to walk round the 'Waterfall walk'. The pathway starts opposite the shop in Acharn village and follows what appears to be a farm track ascending quite steeply up the hillside. Watch for the sign on the left to the 'Hermit's Cave' which opens out onto a viewing balcony with a fabulous view to the main waterfall. Continue through the cave to regain the path then in another couple of minutes another sigh to the left points to the 'Viewing Platform'. This leads to a timber walkway over some lovely smaller falls before heading back down the hill to the road. The walk is about 1.5 miles and should take a reasonably fit person about 45mins including photo stops.
Although the Loch Tay is a full 15 miles in length it is surprisingly difficult to access the water on the north shore unless by foot over fields. The only beaches accessible by car are a small one at Kenmore, and a series of small beaches below trees on the south shore between Fiddler's bay and Killin. There is a beach at the Killin end but it can only be accessed on foot via the old rail line route or from the pier road. There are few other places where the lochside can be accessed but not particularly suitable for anything other than a sightseeing / photo opportunity.