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 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 the Jacobite clans under the command of Bonnie Prince Charlie were defeated by the Hanoverian troops of the Duke of Cumberland. With over 1500 Jacobites killed, it was a catastrophic defeat which had huge impact on the Highlands and one which can still be seen and felt to this day . 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. Dating back 3500BC, these well preserved 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 Cairns it is only another short drive on to Fort George. Built after Culloden to keep the Highlanders under control, it was the largest military fortification in Europe at the time and is still used today as a military barracks . 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 Loch Ness to Castle Urquhart. (Hazelgrove lounge window also has a great view across the loch to the castle! One of the most visited attractions in the whole of Scotland this scenic ruin towers above the deepest water in Loch Ness. Finally, if you have time, return to Hazelgrove via the village of Fort Augustus at the southwest end of the loch.
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. The first stop is Boleskine Graveyard is less than two miles from Hazelgrove. This ancient graveyard which is open to the public, has many a story to tell ( to find out more read ‘A Country called Stratherrick’ by Alan B Lawson which can be purchased at Hazelgrove) Opposite the graveyard are the remains of Boleskine House, which was the home to Aleister Crowley at the turn of the 20th century. Crowley was the self proclaimed ‘most wicked man in the world’.
After Boleskine, continue to Foyers and visit the majestic Falls of Foyers, made famous by Scotland’s greatest poet Rabbie Burns, before a quick stop at Whitebridge to view the General Wade bridge which dates back to 1732. In early summer the sides of the bridge are covered with beautiful purple fairy foxglove flowers
From Whitebridge continue up to the route’s highest point at Suidhe Chuimen at 400m. 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 Loch Tarff to Fort Augustus. Fort Augustus has a number of attractions, the most noteworthy being the Caledonian Canal and canal locks, as well as a number of souvenir shops and restaurants. You can also take a trip out on Loch Ness from here with Cruise Loch Ness
After Fort Augustus the next stop is Invermoriston with its old Telford bridge built in 1813 and picturesque riverside walk. From here you can also take a short detour up Glen Moriston and visit the site of the very strange and unexplained ‘preachers footprints’
Finally, no stop around Loch Ness is complete without a visit to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition in Drumnadrochit. Here you can make up your mind about Nessie – real or imagined?
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 one that is sure to linger in the memory for a long time…
Head south to Invergarry, taking “the road to the Isles”, towards Skye. This road passes Loch Garry with stunning views out to the west, 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 visit Eilean Donan Castle, ancient seat of the MacKenzies of Kintail and one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland. From here carry on to Kyle of Lochalsh and perhaps drive “over the bridge over to Skye” before returning to head north to visit the village of Plockton, with it’s palm trees, brightly painted houses and an excellent seafood restaurants!
After Plockton, follow the coast road along the shores of Loch Carron before heading up and over Bealach-na-Ba (pass of the cattle), which at 2000ft is the highest mountain pass in Scotland, to the remote and beautiful Applecross Peninsula. From here, 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 Liathach and Ben Eighe which are amongst the most spectacular Scottish mountains, and then 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 enjoy good views of the Ben Wyvis massif. At the village of Garve turn south to cross the Kessock Bridge to Inverness and finally on down Loch Ness back to Hazelgrove.
4. High Mountains and Glens.
This tour will take you south west to Spean Bridge, Fort William, Ben Nevis and Glencoe to appreciate the wild beauty of Scotland’s highest mountains. Travel towards Fort William and 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 you can view Ben Nevis, 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 here has been a mecca for mountaineers for many years. Stop at the new Glencoe Visitor Centre before moving on to enjoy the convivial 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 and visit the nearby mysterious ‘Parallel Roads’ if you have time. Then drive on past Loch Laggan (famed for the television series “Monarch of the Glen”) to join the A9 at Kingussie for a short distance before taking the quieter more scenic roads of Strathnairn back, finally, 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, don’t expect to find a petrol station – there are none!
From Tongue, follow the coast west to Durness. The coastal scenery here is rugged and the beaches are amongst the most beautiful in Europe – on a warm summer’s day you could believe you were actually somewhere in the Mediterranean! Despite the popularity of the NC500 in recent years, the area also retains a stark sense of remoteness, ‘far from the madding crowd’ and not just a few hours drive from Hazelgrove.
After a visit to the spectacular Smoo Cave make the long journey home via Laxford Bridge and Loch Shin. On this part of the journey keep an eye out for Golden Eagles which thrive in the more remote Highland glens.
Loch Ness area through the seasons