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 to a great extent a very peaceful and tranquil area.
The South Loch Ness Trail, completed in August 2018 is a beautiful and varied 58km trail stretching from Fort Augustus to Torbreck woods on the edge of the city of Inverness. The trail follows a mixture of forest tracks and paths, newly constructed trail and minor roads. The newly constructed trail between Fort Augustus and Loch Tarff is of a very high standard and suitable for people of limited mobility. The trail was only completed due to the efforts of VisitInvernessLochNess with funding from the European Union, The Highland Council and SSE. Walks 1, 3 and 4 described below are on or close to the route of the South Loch Ness Trail and also close to Hazelgrove. To help you get a feel for these walks we have titled each with a word or phrase, which we believe best encapsulates what they are about
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, but if you have any questions please just ask us. 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 can access the trails from the cottage without even having to cross the road.
Please also see our Car Tours page for more walking information
1. Relax, unwind and take your time …
Lochan Torr an Tuill in Farigaig Forest used to be at the heart of this walk. However, recent extensive tree felling has changed the area dramatically. Nevertheless the walk remains a lovely circular walk of approximately 7 miles ( 12km). It starts at Hazelgrove, passes up through rich and varied woodland with views out over Loch Ness, passes lochan Tor An Tuill in Glenlia with superb views of the Monaliath Mountains, before eventually descending down to the village of Foyers and the Falls of Foyers. In spate the falls are truly a site to behold! In the village there is the opportunity to take a breather and stop for coffee and cake at the Waterfall café, Cameron’s Tearoom or Loch Ness Shores before continuing. The return to Hazelgrove is via the loch side and old Thomas Telford pier at Inverfarigaig. It is easily the most popular walk as it starts only 5 minutes walk 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…
2. Dun Dearduil
The imposing face of Dun Dearduill overlooking Inverfarigaig. Less than 1km 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 requiring a good level of physical fitness and ideally experience of mountain scrambling. For route directions to follow or if you are unsure about doing this walk please ask us. The path is faint, the undergrowth very thick and steep at times, . However, make the effort and you will not be disappointed. The views from the top are truly fantastic and reveal the full 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 you ascend from the moist river environment of the River Farigaig shrouded in trees, up 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.
This 17km walk starts by heading up the spiral ‘Corkscrew’ road just on the edge of Inverfarigaig, 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 the ‘Secret Lochan’, once the water supply for Inverfarigaig and, we think, a very special place to visit, before re-joining the route of the South Loch Ness Trail up past Ballaggan and past the site of the 6th Century St Moluag’s Chapel, to Balchraggan Farm. Just past the farm turn right. This will take you on to a forest felling road and through to Errogie Although the track is wide here and used by felling lorries it is a lovely section of the walk with great views and a remote feel to it. At Errogie cross the public road and continue once again on the forest felling road. This will take you back down to Glenlia. From here the best route back To Hazelgrove is over the hill via lochan Torr an Tuill
4. Eas na Smudh (Waterfall of Smoke).
This is the Gaelic name for the Falls of Foyers and an evocative name for this walk which centres on the majestic Falls. If you visit the falls shortly after heavy rain they are a truly sight to be hold – it feels like the ground is shaking under your feet as the water thunders down the gorge and a mist of moisture hangs thick in the air and hence the Gaelic name Eas na Smudh. Even if they are not in spate though when you visit, they are still impressive and. stare hard enough to the right side of the falls and you might even experience the optical illusion of the rocks moving!
The Falls of Foyers are only 5km from Hazelgrove and can be visited as part of a longer walk direct from Hazelgrove if you so wish. However, to make the most of this walk don’t head straight for the signposted Falls when you reach the village of Foyers. Instead continue past the shop for approximately 200m and turn right down a side road just before Cameron’s Tearoom. After a short distance you will cross a bridge over the ‘Upper’ Falls of Foyers! These are equally amazing to experience when in spate. When they are not, you can get close to the water enjoy and if the weather it is a nice spot to sit and relax a while.
After the ‘Upper’ Falls of Foyers and the trail meanders under tree covered cliffs and up through thick coniferous woodland before descending down past open meadows to Lower Foyers and the shores of Loch Ness. A detour by the cemetery will take you along to Loch Ness Shores Camping & Caravanning Park where there is a gift shop as well as cafe. From Loch Ness Shores you then head steeply uphill on a lovely meandering woodland trail to the ‘main’ Falls Of Foyers
The total distance of this walk starting at Foyers is approximately 7km.
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.