South Loch Ness is the large, sparsely populated area bordered by Loch Ness on one side and the Monadhliath Mountains on the other. It stretches from Inverness down as far as the settlement of Whitebridge, and inland south to Farr. It is the lesser-known side of Loch Ness, a tranquil place of small settlements, single-track roads, and a landscape of forest. A secret Scotland with hidden lochs and high mountains. And yet, this wild landscape is all accessible within 15 minutes’ drive from Inverness. This South Loch Ness tour is for those who wish to explore the rich social and cultural history of the area a little deeper. We think it’s one of the best tours of Scotland. And as it’s a
seventy-mile circuit, it can be completed in a day.
You can complete this car tour in one day, starting and finishing in Inverness. The route is approximately 70 miles long. We recommend this as a day trip with some great stops.
Just 6 miles from Inverness on the B862 is the settlement of Dores. At the head of Loch Ness, it’s the perfect place to start our car tour. Here you can enjoy fantastic views down the length of Loch Ness.
For those who wish to start the day with a brisk walk, head off along the beach and into Torr Woods. There is a lovely two-mile circuit walk, which takes you along as far as Aldourie Castle. On your return, you can always finish with coffee and cake in the Dores Inn. And no visit to Dores would be complete without stopping in to meet long-time Nessie spotter Steve Feltham. He is almost always resident in his caravan by the beach.
From Dores, we head off along the B852, which stays close to the shores of Loch Ness. After approximately four miles, make a stop at the ‘Change House’ layby. This looks directly across to Urquhart Castle and is a great place to take photos, 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 now, but writers Dr Samuel Boswell and James Johnson famously stopped here in 1773, when writing about the area.
Three miles further on our South Loch Ness tour, the road widens dramatically for approximately a hundred metres. If you have an interest in history, pull in here for a few minutes. In amongst the trees, climbing high above the loch is a surviving section of General Wade’s Road, constructed in the 1730s and known as the Black Rock. A fascinating glimpse into 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 car park. You can either take a short walk up to a lovely viewpoint over Loch Ness or enjoy a three-mile circular walk through the woods. Alternatively, take a 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 of Boleskine House (private property). This was once home of the notorious Victorian occultist Aleister Crowley. And it was also owned in the 1970s and 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’.
Next on our scenic tour of Scotland, Foyers. This village 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, twenty per cent of the world’s aluminium was manufactured here. Also at Lower Foyers, you’ll find the Loch Ness Shores Camping and Caravanning Club Site. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can book canoeing and kayaking trips out on Loch Ness from here. Drive back to Upper Foyers and stop beside the café, as a visit to the Falls of Foyers is a must. This has been a tourist attraction since Victorian times, and when in full spate, the falls must be seen to be believed. This is also a great picnic spot.
There are many short walks in the vicinity to explore and the village also has two great tearooms for refreshment.
From Foyers the road winds its way away up to the hamlet of Whitebridge, with the backdrop of the Monadhliath Mountains. If you’re hungry, the Whitebridge Hotel does good pub grub. It’s also worth stopping to walk over the General Wade Bridge built in the 1730s. In June it is covered by bright purple fairy foxglove flowers.
From Whitebridge, continue on the B862 for a further three miles. You’ll come to Suidhe Viewpoint, the highest and furthest point from Inverness on this South Loch Ness tour. If you stroll up onto the South Loch Ness Trail on a clear day, you can see Inverness, Ben Nevis, Monadhliaths, and the high snow-capped mountains of Glen Affric.
Heading back now towards Inverness, just before you reach Whitebridge, take a detour off the main road to Loch Killin. There’s one way in and one way out, but it’s a short and beautiful drive, deep in into Monadhliaths and Loch Killin.
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. This loch supplies the water to the Foyers Pump Storage Hydro station, which means that it is virtually empty by late afternoon, 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 rare Slavonian Grebe birds, which are best seen in early spring, resplendent in their red and golden plumage. There’s is a good chance you may also see ospreys or even a peregrine here.
Finally, why not visit the Steadings Hotel for a meal in the relaxed ambience of their restaurant?
It is a thirty-minute drive back to Inverness, where your South Loch Ness tour is complete.Explore The Highlands Further
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