Exploring from Hazelgrove – Loch Ness and beyond
There is a huge variety of things to see and do in the Loch Ness area and also beyond. Hazelgrove is quite simply an ideal base for car tours. But also see our walking page for all the walks in the area. Enjoy car tours to the Island of Skye, the far North West, the spectacular mountains of Glen Coe, Aviemore and also the Cairngorms National Park. In addition, don’t forget a Loch Ness circular tour. Enjoy all these car tours on day trips from Hazelgrove. Wildlife, flora, genealogy, sites of historical interest, or maybe just marvelling at this area of outstanding scenic beauty – it will not disappoint!
There is a lot of information in the cottage about what you can see and do in the area but we hope that this list of car tours will also help with holiday planning. Listed below is a short description of some of the car tours which can all be taken from Hazelgrove.
1. Historic Sites Tour.
Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness
This is essentially the ‘classic’ historic tour. The first stop is Culloden Battlefield, where in 1746 Bonnie Prince Charlie lead his troops to a catastrophic defeat. The National Trust for Scotland owns the site, and it has a very informative visitor centre. But you need only walk out onto the battlefield with rain sweeping across the moor to ‘feel’ the history!
Clava Cairns is the next stop. Used as long ago as 3500BC, these massive stone structures were used for collective burials by cremation. Tucked away in woods off the main road, they stand as an eerie testament to ancient times.
From Clava carry on to Fort George. Built after Culloden, it was the largest military fortification in Europe at the time and it is still in use today. Jutting out in to the Moray Firth, dolphins can sometimes be seen from the ramparts!
After Fort George, travel along the A82 on the north side of the loch to Castle Urquhart. The lounge window also has a fantastic view of the castle! One of the most visited attractions in the whole of Scotland this scenic ruin towers above some of the deepest water in Loch Ness. Finally, return to Hazelgrove via the village of Fort Augustus.
2. Loch Ness Circular.
This is another full day car tour, which takes in all the main attractions around Loch Ness and a few more. Boleskine Graveyard is less than two miles from Hazelgrove and the first stop. The remains of Boleskine House, which was the home to Aleister Crowley at the turn of the 20th century is above the graveyard. Crowley was the self proclaimed ‘most wicked man in the world’. Continue to Foyers and visit the majestic Falls of Foyers, before a quick stop at Whitebridge to view the General Wade bridge which dates back to 1732.
From Whitebridge continue up to the route’s highest point at Suidhe Chuimen at 1200ft. From here there are excellent views back north towards Loch Mhor. Take a short walk on a section of the South Loch Ness Trail to get even better views. Then it’s on down past lonely Loch Tarff to Fort Augustus. Fort Augustus has many attractions, most noteworthy being the Caledonian Canal and the series of locks. It’s a great place just to wander and browse the shops.
After Fort Augustus the next stop is Invermoriston with its old Telford bridge built in 1813 and picturesque riverside walk. Why not take a detour up Glen Moriston and see the very strange and unexplained ‘preachers footprints’
Finally, stop at the at the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition in Drumnadrochit or enjoy a short cruise on the Loch from the Clansman Harbour before heading home.
3. Towards Skye and Wester Ross
Eilean Donan Castle on the way to Skye
This tour is to the wild and dramatic mountain and coastal scenery of north west Scotland. It is a long day but the memories will be not only of scenic splendour, but also of distant lands ‘far from the madding crowd’.
Head south to Invergarry, taking “the road to the Isles”, towards Skye. This road passes Loch Garry with stunning views westward, and lonely Loch Cluanie. It then descends into Glen Shiel which is dominated by a range of mountains called the Five Sisters of Kintail.
Travel along the side of Loch Duich to the village of Dornie and also Eilean Donan Castle, ancient seat of the MacKenzies of Kintail and one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland. Carry on to Kyle of Lochalsh where there is a good view “over the bridge over to Skye”. Visit Plockton, with it’s palm trees, brightly painted houses and an excellent seafood restaurant!
Follow the coast road along the shores of Loch Carron before heading up and over Bealach nam Bo (pass of the cattle), which at 2000ft is the highest mountain pass in Scotland, to the remote and beautiful Applecross Peninsula. There are spectacular views across to the Isle of Skye and also Raasay, as well as further west to the Outer Hebrides.
From Applecross head north east to Shieldaig, a small and beautiful white painted village on the shores of Loch Torridon. After the village of Torridon pass below the towering massif of Liatach and Ben Eighe which are amongst the most spectacular Scottish mountains, and also along Glen Torridon to the small village of Kinlochewe.
After Kinlochewe continue east to Achnasheen which translates as “the field of storms” in Gaelic and get good views of Ben Wyvis. At the village of Garve turn south to cross the Kessock Bridge and then into Inverness and finally back to Hazelgrove.
4. High Mountains and Glens.
This tour travels west to Spean Bridge, Fort William, Ben Nevis and Glencoe. Appreciate the wild beauty of Scotland’s highest mountains. Travel towards Fort William and the first stop at the Commando Memorial just outside Spean Bridge. The memorial is to the commandos who trained in the area during WW2 and the spot affords excellent views of the massive Nevis range of mountains. Also near here is where the first shots of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 were fired. The Aonach Mor Mountain Centre has a mountain gondola which travels to a height of over 600m. A short walk from here and see Ben Nevis itself, which at 1344m is Britain’s highest mountain.
After Aonach Mor, continue through Fort William and onto Glen Coe, scene of the massacre of the Macdonalds in 1692. The spectacular mountain scenery has been a mecca for mountaineers for many years. Stop at the new Glencoe Visitor Centre before moving on to enjoy the atmosphere of the Claichaig, the most famous of all climbing fraternity hostelries in Scotland!
From Glen Coe return to Spean Bridge and then follow the winding road past Roy Bridge. Then onto Loch Laggan and “Monarch of the Glen Country”. Finally, join the A9 at Kingussie for a short distance before taking the quieter more scenic roads of Strathnairn and finally back to Hazelgrove.
5. Journey to the Edge …
Wonderful sandy beaches on the north coast of Scotland
This is a round trip to the far north coast of Scotland. From Hazelgrove head north up the A9 past Carbisdale castle, the Falls of Shin and on to Lairg. From here on it’s all single track as you head up past Altnaharra to Tongue. The landscape here is harsh, barren and empty which gives it a truly unique beauty of it’s own. And, as this is one of the wildest and lonely roads in Scotland, it is certainly not a place to breakdown!
From Tongue, follow the coast to Durness. The coastal scenery is rugged and the beaches are quite simply the most beautiful in Europe – absolutely no question! It’s just a pity that the climate is not a bit warmer! There is a sense here of being so far away from anywhere but it is only a few hours drive from Hazelgrove.
After a visit to the spectacular Smoo Cave start the long journey home via Laxford Bridge and Loch Shin. On this part of the journey also keep an eye out for Golden Eagles which thrive in the more remote highland glens.
Loch Ness area through the seasons