Walking Loch Ness and Beyond – from Hazelgrove Cottage
Low level walking in the Loch Ness area, and in particular South Loch Ness, is very special because not only is the scenery superb, and the views fantastic, but because it remains largely ‘undiscovered’. In an age of mass tourism and enjoyment by all of the great outdoors, it remains a very peaceful and tranquil area.
Opened in August 2011, the South Loch Ness Trail is a fantstic 28 mile trail stretching from Loch Tarff, a few miles north of Fort Augusts to Torbreck woods on the outskirts of Inverness. Much of the route was already enjoyed by visitors to South Loch Ness. But under the direction of Destination Loch Ness, seven kilometres of new trail were constructed to make a continuous waymarked route over 28 miles. Walks 1, 3 and 4 below relate to sections of the trail which were previously in place and which have been enjoyed by many visitors to Hazelgrove.
There is a lot of information on the flora, wildlife and rich heritage of the area in the cottage so that you can get the most out of walking. Whether you prefer a few short walks or full days exploring, there is plenty to choose from. If you have pets then Hazelgrove is ideally located for walking in Farigaig Forest as you do not even need to go onto a road to access the trails behind the cottage.
To help you get a feel for these walks we have provided a short description of each and we have also titled each with a word or phrase, which we believe best encapsulates what they are about. Please also see our Car Tours page
1. Relax, unwind and take your time …
Lochan Tor an Tuill in Farigaig Forest. This walk is a lovely circular walk of approximately 7 miles ( 12km). It starts at Hazelgrove, passes up through rich and varied woodland with several superb viewpoints out over Loch Ness, before descending down to the majestic Falls of Foyers. At this point there is the opportunity to take a breather and stop for coffee at the Red Squirrel café or alternatively push on and extend the walk – it’s really up to you. The return to Hazelgrove is via the loch side and old Telford pier at Inverfarigaig. It is easily the most popular walk as it starts only 20 metres from the Hazelgrove gate! It is also a walk with plenty places to stop, sit down and relax a while and enjoy the peace and silence, such as at the small lochan of Torr an Tuill – a truly beautiful place rich in legend.
2. Dun Dearduil
The imposing face of Dun Dearduill overlooking Inverfarigaig. Less than ½ mile from Evergreen are the massive crags of Dun Dearduil that dominate any view of Inverfarigaig. Rising sharply above the River Farigaig, atop sheer precipices, are the remains of an ancient iron-age fort from which the hill takes its name. Steeped in legend, Dun Dearduil is associated with the Celtic heroine Deirdre and tales of forbidden love and deep sorrow.
Little surprise then, perhaps, that the walk up Dun Dearduil is testing. The path is virtually non-existent, the undergrowth thick and at times, such is the steepness, progress can only be made by clinging on to the vegetation. However, make the effort and you will not be disappointed. The views from the top are fantastic and bring out clearly the splendour of Loch Ness as it stretches east and west into the distance.
This walk is also a good one on which to appreciate the rich diversity of fauna in the area as we ascend from the moist river environment shrouded in trees up to 284m in a very short distance. You might also even be lucky and see a peregrine falcon rising up above the mighty rock face.
3. Take a Walk on the Wildside.
The Secret Lochan This is a walk that takes us up the spiral ‘Corkscrew’ road just on the edge of Inverfarigaig, and beyond into the ancient lands of Stratherrick. The Corkscrew was built in 1815 by the son of Lord Woodhouselee and apart from resurfacing has changed little since then. It is rarely used by cars because it is so narrow and steep and from the top there are wonderful views across to the massive crags of Dun Dearduill as well as out over Loch Ness.
A short distance further on you can detour off the road to visit secluded waterfalls on the River Farigaig. It is an enchanting spot in summer to pass a few hours in perfect seclusion. Back on the road the route takes you up past the site of the 6th Century St Moluag’s Chapel, to Balchuirn. Here, turn off the road, pass the ruins of the village of Balchuirn and head back in the direction of Loch Ness. Soon after you will come to the massive cliffs of Cas-bhearnach which overlook the loch. Completely hidden from view these alone make this walk more than worthwhile! Returning via a beautiful and tranquil lochan, known locally as the Secret Loch, eventually you re join the road just above the Corkscrew.
4. Eas na Smudh (Waterfall of Smoke).
One of the waymarked walking tracks in Farigaig Forest. This is the Gaelic name for the Falls of Foyers and an evocative name for our walk which centres round the majestic Falls. The Falls of Foyers are only 2 miles from Hazelgrove and can be visited as part of another walk direct from Hazelgrove. However, this walk is not only about the falls, but takes in some of the beautiful surrounding landscape rich in history and legend.
It starts at the Upper Falls in the village of (Upper) Foyers and meanders under tree covered cliffs and through thick coniferous woodland before descending down past open meadows to (Lower) Foyers and the shores of Loch Ness. You would then walk along the shore for a short distance before moving inland again and upwards, this time staying close to the massive gorge that is Foyers Falls. The Lower Falls are truly spectacular and worthy of their reputation.
Be sure to bring plenty film for your camera, particularly if the falls are in full spate. Total distance covered is approximately 4 miles (7km). The Falls alone are justification for this walk but we think that linking it with a walk in the surrounds of the falls, make this a truly memorable short walk.
5. Huff and Puff to the Highest Point.
Looking down on Loch Ness fom Mealfuarvonie. This walk takes you up to the highest point around Loch Ness, the summit of Mealfuarvonie (the rounded hill of the cold moor). On a good day the views from the top stretch to the distant horizon in all directions and give a feeling of space unlike anywhere else in the area.
It is a pleasant walk which passes through birch woodland before rising up on to a grassy ridge. From there the path meanders its way up to the summit at 699m. If you try walking this route in summer or winter, there is one thing which can be guaranteed – it’s always windy at the summit! So no matter the weather at Hazelgrove, you should be well prepared if you wish to do this one.
6. Land of Mountain and Flood.
Plodda falls. This is one of ther longer walks, a classic circular route around Loch Affric. About 1½ hours drive from Hazelgrove, Glen Affric is one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland and one of the very few places where there are remnants of ancient Caledonian forest, direct descendants of trees that colonised the area after the last ice-age 8-10 thousand years ago. Whether you take the circular walk or choose to visit Glen Affric as part of a car tour, this is a must for any visit to the area.
This walk is called Land of Mountain and Flood because amidst this open ancient woodland majestic mountains rise sharply while white torrents of water cascade down to the loch. A forest reserve, the area is also rich in birds and wildlife. Keep an eye open for buzzards and Golden Eagles.
The distance covered on this walk is about 10 miles (17 ½ km) and while it is all low-level, and the path/track very good, after heavy rain, walking on some parts of the path is likely to be very difficult as streams which cut across it become raging torrents!
As it is a full day excursion some distance from Hazelgrove, you should also take the opportunity on this trip to visit the Dog Falls and the magnificent Falls of Plodda near the interesting village of Tomich.