Within easy access of a wide variety of outdoor activities and visitor attractions Hazelgrove Self Catering Cottage, Loch Ness

Loch Ness and Inverness Outdoor Activities and Visitor Attractions

Loch Ness is known the world over for its elusive monster, affectionally known as Nessie. But Loch Ness and the surrounding area including Inverness offers much more to do than merely ‘Nessie watching’.

On the quieter south side of the loch  where Hazelgrove Self Catering Cottage is situated at Inverfarigaig, its all about enjoying the great outdoors whether it be on foot, on horse, cycle, on water or by car. Walkers and runners will revel in the endless  trail opportunities including the South Loch Ness Trail which extends from Inverness  all the way down to Fort Augustus. In addition to fantastic views of Loch Ness the trail allows you to explore and experience some of the rich history of the area. At Inverfarigaig there is the remains of a General Wade bridge built in 1732 and on the shores of the loch, Inverfarigaig pier built by Thomas Telford in the early 19th century. At Boleskine the ancient graveyard , finally resting place of many Fraser clan. At Foyers, the Falls of Foyers and the old aluminium works, bombed during WW2 while at  Whitebridge there is another fine example of a General Wade bridge.

For cyclists the south side is also very popular because in this area of low population many of the single track roads are very quiet, great for road cyclists. The road from Fort Augustus to Inverness  via Foyers is also part of the Sustrans Route 78 – the Caledonia Way – which stretches all the way from Oban to Inverness. A great bike outing from Inverness is to cycle out to Foyers and stop for a coffee and cake at Cameron’s Tearoom  Bikes can be hired in Inverness from  Ticket to Ride . For mountain bikers the challenges of the South Loch Ness Trail are enough for most, particularly from Fort Augustus up to Suidhe Viewpoint but for the ‘hardcore’ there are steep trails to explore in the Monaliadth Mountains

On water by canoe,  exploring the wild south shore of the loch from Foyers to Fort Augustus is a great experience as there is no vehicular access here. This can be done as part of a multiday trip up the Great Glen Canoe Trail from Fort William to Inverness. Alternatively why not try paddle boarding on one of many small lochs in the area with Explore Highland

For horse riders look no further than the Trail of the Seven Lochs – a 50 mile loop of  some of the more rugged and wild areas of the south side. Riding can be arranged through Loch Ness Riding ( although they only take experienced riders)

And finally on the south side you can of course explore by car.  There are a number of parking areas along the B852 where good views of, and access to the shores of Loch Ness, can be peacefully enjoyed.

At the south west end of the loch, Fort Augustus is a great place to watch boats pass through the locks on the Caledonian Canal or to take a cruise out on Loch Ness with Cruise Loch Ness   Also here, you can enjoy the new Caledonian Canal Centre or browse the gift and souvenir shops. Alternatively access the Great Glen Way here and enjoy a spectacular walk on this long distance trail which goes from Inverness to Fort William

On the north side of Loch Ness, much of what there is to see and do centres on the village of Drumnadrochit. Here you will find the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition. This 5 star attraction takes you through not only everything you ever wanted to know about Nessie, but also the history of Loch Ness. The village  has also a number of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants, Fiddler’s in particular with its fantastic range of whiskies is certainly worth stopping in at.  Close to Drumnadrochit is the ruin of Urquhart Castle sitting above the deepest part of Loch Ness, Strone Point at over 700ft.

No trip on the north side is though complete without a visit to  Glen Affric, 30 minutes drive from Drumnadrochit. Often referred to as ‘ the most beautiful glen in Scotland’ this wild landscape of towering mountains, waterfalls and lochs is not to be missed  and a must for any walking and cycling enthsiast.

In Inverness, only 25 minutes drive from Hazelgrove there are a wide range of outdoor activities and visitor attractions to enjoy, ranging from Eden Court Theatre, Inverness Museum, the Highland Archive  Centre to  the facilities of Inverness Leisure Centre and city tours, There is also Inverness Castle, home to the city courts for many years, it is presently being developed in to a major new tourism attraction and is not presently open to the public . However, you can still go up the Castle Tower and experience fantastic 360 views of the city. In particular, the viewpoint gives great views of the River Ness and the Ness Islands, a popular walking area with Invernessians

East of Inverness a popular outdoor activity is to go dolphin watching in the Moray Firth. 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 boats. 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 to see the dolphins 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!

Dolphin watching, one of the many outdoor activities to be enjoyed locally

Only a few miles east of Inverness there are also several major tourism attractions  including Cawdor castle, Fort George and the most famous of them all, Culloden battlefield, scene of the last major battle fought on British soil in 1746 when the Hanoverian government troops under the command of the Duke of Cumberland defeated the clans of Bonnie Prince Charlie. It was a defeat which had profound consequences for the Highlands which are still with us to this day

And if you are still looking for more to do when staying at Hazelgrove…  

See Red Deer: These magnificent animals can be seen on many areas of higher ground, particularly in South Loch Ness between Whitebridge and Fort Augustus. Look out for large groups, mainly in the winter months.

Birdwatching
RSPB Loch Ruthven Nature Reserve, South Loch Ness. 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.

Upper Findhorn, Coignafearn, in Strathnairn near Inverness. This is very much golden eagle country but other species you may see are peregrines, merlins, kestrels and sparrowhawks.

And sea eagles, the fourth largest eagle in the world, are now regularly seen over Loch Ness

 

hare

 

Fishing
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 errogiealex@yahoo.com

For information and permits on South Loch Ness – Whitebridge Hotel

Golf

If golf is your favourite pastime then Hazelgrove is a great location to stay. Three of Scotland’s best and most famous golf courses are all within easy driving distance. East of Inverness is Castle Stuart championship links course overlooking the Moray Firth. Close by is Nairn Golf Club, also a championship links course on the shores of the Moray Firth. Thirdly there is Royal Dornoch. Wild, a bit more isolated and rugged than the other two, but established in 1877, it too is a championship course of  an exceptional standard  However, if you just wish to turn up at a course for a quick game, there are a number of other smaller courses in the area such as Fort Augustus Golf Course and Fairways Golf Centre in Inverness

Running

If you are a keen runner or jogger there are endless off road opportunities leading off from the doorstep of Hazelgrove. Likewise in Inverness there are some great routes along the Caledonian Canal  or  if you prefer hills, up Craig Dunain close to the centre of the city. And there is of course Inverness Park Run – Bught Park – Inverness – Every Saturday, 9.30 a.m. For more information on running routes in the area or further afield in the Highlands please ask us – Graeme has been a keen runner for many years and knows all the best routes whether it be 5km or 50 miles!

Adventure sports
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 adventure sports  to experience all within easy reach from Hazelgrove is as varied as the landscape itself here in the Highlands.

Gorge walking, canyoning and abseiling are a few of the outdoor activities which In Your Element 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.

Canoeing, Kayaking and paddle boarding adventures – Explore Highland offer great opportunities locally and elsewhere in the Highlands including the Isle of Skye

Mountain and Gravel Biking
Whether you have a mountain bike or gravel bike there are plenty opportunities in the area to have fun! The recently constructed forest roads have opened up area previously reserved for hard core cyclists. Equally near Fort Augustus the Glendoe Hydro Scheme and Stronlairg windfarm development has provided access for bikers to some amazing wild areas in the Monadhliath Mountains. The Rothiemurchus Estate, Glenmore and Inshriach forests near Aviemore have miles of safe tracks through the pine woods. Further south try the Laggan Wolftrax – the routes here range from easy to black and one of the best technical routes in Scotland. 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.  There is also mountain bike trails at Learnie Red Rocks on the Black Isle and in Culbin Forest just beyond Nairn, east of Inverness. Finally there is of course the ‘daddy’ of them all at the Nevis Range, Fort William – with its World Cup Downhill track it is the mecca in Britain for mountain biking

Snowsports
Despite global warming skiing in the Highlands is still very much an outdoor sport enjoyed by many over the winter months.. Friendly, unpretentious and for all ages and all standards of skier there  are three Highland ski centres – Nevis Range near Fort William, Cairngorm near Aviemore and Glencoe, all of them with highly qualified instructors and ski schools offering every level of tuition.

And finally – if it happens to be raining or blowing a gale (not that we ever see that kind of weather in the Highlands! ) some indoor activities and places to visit in Inverness …

 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