Within easy access of a wide variety of outdoor activities and visitor attractions Hazelgrove Self Catering Cottage, Loch Ness
Loch Ness Outdoor Activities
Without doubt, the fame of Loch Ness and its monster is known all over the world. But Loch Ness has much more than an elusive monster. The south side of the loch is the quieter of the two sides and this is where you will find Hazelgrove Self Catering Cottage situated in Inverfarigaig. Travelling from Inverness you will first see a view of Loch Ness from Dores. Have a walk on the pebble beach or simply take in the magnificent sight of the loch. The roads on the south side were originally built as military roads to connect the garrison at Inverness with Fort Augustus and Fort William. There are a number of parking areas along the B852 where good views of, and access to the loch shore, can be peacefully enjoyed. The Falls of Foyers on the B852, just two miles from Hazelgrove, are also worth stopping at. From the Suidhe Chumein viewpoint on the B862, enjoy wonderful views of the mountains to the west.
At the south end of the loch, Fort Augustus is a good place to watch the life of the Caledonian Canal where, at a series of locks, boats are raised or lowered to allow them access to Loch Ness or the canal itself. Also here, visitors can enjoy the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre, a Rare Breeds Park and also the Clansman Centre, a living museum based round a reconstructed 17th century turf house. Costumed (and armed!) clansfolk give a vivid insight into Highland life of old.
The sightings of the monster over the years are at the core of the Loch Ness 2000 Exhibition Centre at Drumnadrochit which is on the north side of the loch. In addition, the complex here has wide-ranging quality souvenir shopping, including kilts and whisky. The north side also has a number of other attractions and these include the interesting 3-acre garden at Abriachan, while just below Drumnadrochit is Urquhart Castle with its visitor centre telling the story of this important Great Glen fortress.
Outdoor Activities in the area include walking in Farigaig Forest at Inverfarigaig, cycling on the Great Glen Cycleway, also pony trekking, golf and angling. In summary, this is an area close to Inverness with fine scenery and also guided cruises available on Loch Ness.
If you want to take in some culture and shopping while you are in the area, then the city of Inverness has both and much more. There are great walks along the river Ness which runs through the centre of the city or enjoy wonderful views from the 19th century castle which sits above the river. Shopping for Scottish crafts, plus all the nightlife and a superb range of top quality restaurants are just a few of the other options which you can enjoy.
All the activities listed are within easy reach of Hazelgrove
Wildlife and bird watching
The Moray Firth, is one of only two places in the UK where bottle-nosed dolphins can be seen. There are various boat trips taking visitors out into the Firth where the dolphins will frequently follow the small boat. However, we would recommend that you simply head to Chanonry Point near the village of Fortrose on the Black Isle which is just north of Inverness. The best times are when the tide is flowing strongly and when the sun is out – they seem to enjoy jumping out of the water when the sun shines!
These magnificent animals can be seen on many areas of higher ground in the South Loch Ness area. Between Whitebridge and Fort Augustus, look out for large groups, mainly in the winter months.
RSPB Loch Ruthven Nature Reserve, Inverness-shire. This is the best site in Britain to guarantee views of Slavonian grebes with their spectacular breeding colours. Ospreys visit almost daily during their season and red-throated divers, goosanders and other waterfowl can be expected. Passerines include whinchats, redpolls, wheatears and the occasional ring ouzel. You may even see short-eared owls and hen harriers.
Upper Findhorn, Coignafearn, Inverness-shire. This is very much golden eagle country but other species you may see are peregrines, merlins, kestrels and sparrowhawks. Dippers and grey wagtails are found along the burn and lapwings and oystercatchers nest in the meadows near the river. Ring ouzels, wheatears, meadow pipits and the distinctive stonechat are all found here. Occasionally red grouse may be seen or heard. As a bonus you can usually see large herds of red deer browsing on the hill.
There are excellent cycling opportunities not just because in this area of low population many roads are quiet anyway, but because there are so many ways in which cyclists are encouraged. The road from Fort Augustus to Inverness is part of the newly completed cycle route 78 – the Caledonia Way which runs from Oban to Inverness. But in addition to the designated route, in the area around South Loch Ness, the networks of quieter roads offer fantastic scenery and everything from short circuits for an afternoon to multi day routes.There are also off-road opportunities by way of a huge range of forestry tracks, for example.
Trail of the Seven Lochs – 50 mile loop suitable for cycling, horse riding and walkers within 2 miles of Hazelgrove
Ticket to Ride – cycle hire based in Inverness which includes a delivery and pick up service
There is good fishing on the lochs on the south side of Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal in the Great Glen itself. Permits are, in most places, excellent value. Daily, weekly or season permits are usually available.
If you would like to try your hand at fly fishing, whether you are a total beginner or an accomplished angler, Alex Sutherland, a local Ghillie, can provide a great day out. Instruction in fly fishing for brown trout on local lochs and streams. Alex can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
For information and permits on South Loch Ness – Whitebridge Hotel
Pony Trekking & Horse Riding
With its network of old routes through the glens, Scotland is made for riding and trekking. A variety of Highland riding and trekking operators offer everything from short treks for youngsters and beginners, or more challenging routes for the expert rider. A new 50 mile loop on the south side of Loch Ness has been developed by riders. Wherever you choose, you can be sure that the view from the saddle will certainly be rewarding
The fame of Highland courses reaches its height, perhaps, with the great classic east-coast championship courses at Nairn (past host to events such as the British Amateur Championship and the Walker Cup) and also Dornoch whose grand seaside links have earned it the title of “the St Andrews of the North”. Then there are a whole range of quirky courses, as well as smaller courses where it is easy just to turn up and play. Highland golf, in all its variety, has something for players of all standards.
Inverness Park Run – Bught Park – Inverness – Every Saturday, 9.30 a.m.
Ever tried gorge walking? How about white-water rafting? Maybe you want to brush up on your winter skills or your hill navigation? Winter, of course, brings its own set of challenges for skiers, downhill, X-country or Telemark. The list of adventurous things to do is as varied as the land itself here in the Highlands.
Gorge walking, canyoning and abseiling are a few of the outdoor activities which Boots n Paddles offers.
The biggest indoor ice climbing facility in the world Ice Factor, Kinlochleven.
Wide range of outdoor activities, including white water rafting – Active Highs only 45 minutes from Hazelgrove.
For the more moderate mountain biker there are off-road opportunities by way of a huge range of forestry tracks in and around Inverfarigaig. Slightly further afield, the Rothiemurchus Estate, Glenmore and Inshriach forests near Aviemore have miles of safe tracks through the pine woods. Or further south try the Laggan Wolftrax blue trail. Leanachan Forest near Fort William also offers plenty of waymarked routes while further up the Great Glen and west towards Cannich and Glen Affric there are many trails both waymarked and unmarked. New trails are also being developed on the Black Isle and in the Glen Affric area.
Learnie Red Rocks – variety of tracks on the Black Isle, north of Inverness – trail map
Culbin Forest – Just beyond Nairn, to the East of Inverness –
Laggan Wolftrax – Mountain bike trails
Route maps for family mountain biking at Rothiemurchus Estate, just outside Aviemore
Award winning World Cup downhill track at the Nevis Range, Fort William
Skiing in the Highlands is friendly, unpretentious and enjoyed by all ages and all standards of skier will find it rewarding – and that applies to telemarkers and snowboard enthusiasts, too.
There are three Highland ski centres – Nevis Range near Fort William, Caringorm near Aviemore and Glencoe, all of them with highly qualified instructors and ski schools offering every level of tuition. In addition, ski tourers, ski mountaineers and cross-country enthusiasts can seize the moment when conditions are right – sometimes even at low levels when forestry tracks used by walkers and cyclists at other times of year make ideal cross-country terrain.
We are close to a wide range of watersports. Loch Insh is a popular place, offering sailing dinghies, canoes, windsurfers and also river trips on the River Spey itself. Watersports is also an important theme around the Great Glen. In the Laggan area, you can easily find a range of activities, both on the loch sections of the Caledonian Canal or on Loch Oich.
Canoeing on Loch Ness or on nearby rivers with Boots n Paddles
Loch Insh Watersports offer a range of activities both on and off the water at Kincraig, just south of Aviemore
Explore Highland offer bespoke canoeing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding experiences from Fort Augustus
And finally – if it happens to be raining or blowing a gale … not that we ever see that kind of weather in the Highlands!
INDOOR Things to do in Inverness
Rollerball – Ten pin bowling
Inverness Kart Raceway – indoor karting arena – fun for all the family
Inverness Leisure Centre – competition and leisure pools and also a Health Suite with its steam room, sauna, spa bath and large relaxation area
Inverness Ice Centre – skating & curling
Eden court theatre and cinema – Largest theatre complex in the highlands with two cinemas
Vue Cinema – Large multi screen venue
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery – Explore the art, history and heritage of the Highlands
Highland Archive Centre – In addition to bespoke searchroom and repository facilities, the Highland Archive Centre incorporates a dedicated Family History Room, and a specialist Conservation Studio.