1 Day Mileage: Start and finish in Inverness, 70 miles approximately
South Loch Ness is the large, sparsely populated area bordered by Loch Ness on one side and the Monadhliath Mountains on the other which stretches from Inverness down as far as the settlement of Whitebridge and inland south to Farr. It is the ‘lesser known, less travelled’ side of Loch Ness, a tranquil place of small settlements, single track roads and a landscape of forest, hidden lochs and high mountains. And yet, this wild landscape is all accessible within 15 minutes’ drive from Inverness. The South Loch Ness Escape tour is for those who wish to explore a little deeper in to the rich social and cultural history of the area as well as ‘stretch their legs’ regularly.
For more information about many of our Stop points on this tour we recommend purchasing either ‘A Country Called Stratherrick’ by Alan B Lawson and/or ‘South Loch Ness’ by the South Loch Ness heritage Group. Both excellent guides to the area and available from email@example.com or in Waterstones' bookshop. They are both excellent guide books to the history and landscape of South Loch Ness.
A mere 6 miles from Inverness on the B862 is the settlement of Dores, at the head of Loch Ness and the perfect place from which to start our South Loch Ness Escape. Fantastic views down the length of Loch Ness, no visit to Dores is complete without stopping in to meet long-time Nessie spotter Steve Feltham, almost always resident in his caravan by the beach. After meeting Steve, for those that wish to start the day with a brisk walk, head off along the beach and in to Torr Woods where there is a lovely 2 mile circuit walk which takes you along as far as Aldourie Castle. On your return you can always finish this stop with coffee and cake in the Dores Inn.
From Dores we head off along the B852 which stays close to the shores of Loch Ness. After approximately 4 miles it is worth making a quick stop at what is known locally as the ‘Change House’ layby. The layby looks directly across to Urquhart Castle and is a great place to take pics as well as get down to the water’s edge. There is also a short walk here that takes you along to the remains of the Change House. There is not much to see but it was here that the famous writers Dr Samuel Boswell and James Johnson stopped in 1773.
Three miles further on the road widens dramatically for approximately 100 metres. If you have an interest in history pull in here for a few minutes because in amongst the trees climbing high above the loch is a surviving section of General Wade’s Road, constructed in the 1730’s and known here as the Black Rock. A fascinating glimpse in to the history of the area almost 400 years ago.
A mile further on you will reach Inverfarigaig, nestling below the rocky bluffs of Dun Dearduil. Stop here at the Forestry Commission carpark from where you can either take a short walk up to a lovely viewpoint over Loch Ness or a 3 mile circular walk through the woods. Alternatively, take a short detour off the B852 down to the loch side. From here you can walk out on to the old Thomas Telford pier and get fantastic views up and down Loch Ness.
One mile on from Inverfarigaig there is another stop of great historical interest, Boleskine Graveyard and the remains (private property) of Boleskine House, once home of the notorious Victorian occultist Aleister Crowley and also owned in the 1970/80s by Jimmy Page of the rock group Led Zeppelin. It was here on the hillside behind the house that they recorded the fantasy sequence from ‘The Song Remains The Same’.
Foyers - The village of Foyers is actually split into two, Upper Foyers and Lower Foyers. Take the low road down to Lower Foyers and you will see the old aluminium works (no entry) – at one time 20% of the world aluminium was manufactured here! Also at Lower Foyers is Foyers Camping & Caravanning site at which if you are feeling active, you can book canoeing and kayaking trips out on Loch Ness. Drive back up to Upper Foyers, stop beside the café as a visit to the Falls of Foyers is a must. A tourist attraction since Victorian times, when in spate they must be seen to be believed, the water thundering down over the falls through the gorge out in to Loch Ness. There are a number of short walks in the vicinity of the falls to explore and the village also has not one but two great café/tearooms for refreshment.
From Foyers the road winds its way away from the loch up to the hamlet of Whitebridge with the back drop of the Monadhliath Mountains. If you are hungry by now, the Whitebridge Hotel does good pub grub. It’s also worth stopping to walk over the General Wade Bridge built in the 1730’s. In June it is covered by bright purple fairy foxglove flowers.
From Whitebridge continue on the B862 for a further 3 miles up to the highest and furthest point from Inverness of this tour, Suidhe Viewpoint. On a clear day it is certainly worth a stop and stroll up on to the South Loch Ness Trail. From here you can see north towards Inverness, west to Ben Nevis, north to the high snow-capped (even in summer) mountains of Glen Affric and south over the Monadhliaths.
Heading back now towards Inverness, just before you reach Whitebridge, if you have time it is worth taking a detour off the main road up to Loch Killin. It’s one way in and one way out but it’s a lovely short drive deep in to the Monadhliaths and Loch Killin on a good day is truly beautiful.
Back on the B862 instead of cutting back on to the B852 and returning to Inverness via Foyers, stay on the B862. The road winds its way through the small communities of Gorthleck and Errogie nestling beside Loch Mhor. Loch Mhor supplies the water to the Foyers Pump Storage Hydro station which means that passing the loch each day, usually late afternoon, it is virtually empty, only to be refilled overnight! Two miles past Errogie, the road splits. Take the B851 towards Farr and the A9. A few miles further on at the village of Croachy a short detour will take you to Loch Ruthven. Loch Ruthven is the most important site in the UK for the rare Slavonian Grebe which are best seen in early spring, resplendent in their red and golden plumage. Also at Loch Ruthven there is a good chance you may see ospreys or even a peregrine.
Finally before the last few miles back to Inverness why not stop off at the Steadings Hotel for a meal in the relaxed ambience of their restaurant.