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The South Loch Ness Trail

Meet the wild, unspoilt and uninterrupted side of Loch Ness. This trail forms part of the circular route around Loch Ness, the Loch Ness 360° Trail, connecting to the Great Glen Way. The South Loch Ness Trail meanders its way down the south side of Loch Ness on a mixture of minor roads, forest tracks and purpose-built trail. The 58km trail starts in Torbreck near Inverness and passes through the villages of Dores, Inverfarigaig, The Falls of Foyers, Whitebridge and eventually Fort Augustus.

Walk, mountain bike, Run or ride on this beautiful trail and take in the many points of interest. Suidhe Viewpoint and the Caledonian Canal in Fort Augustus. Developed by Visit Inverness Loch Ness over several years it has what every long-distance trail should have – spectacular views, historical interest, peace and quiet and places along the route to stop, rest and relax.

South Loch Ness Trail User Notes (June 2019) South Loch Ness Trail Map South Loch Ness FAQs

Walk or Cycle the South Loch Ness Trail

The South Loch Ness trail is 58 km in length, running from Torbreck in Inverness to Fort Augustus. Below, we have split this magnificent long-distance walking route into three sections. You can set yourself the challenge of walking the entire trail over three days.

Or, you can choose any section, for shorter hiking trails in Scotland. You can also cycle it on mountain bike. The choice is yours!

Section 1 of The Trail

Torbreck to Dores

Section One of the trail is a beautiful woodland walk passing by Dores Beach and Aldourie Castle

Section One:
Torbreck to Dores

Length: 11 km
Walk time: 2.5 to 3 hours

Begin at Torbreck, with a short walk through woodland, way-marked with blue markers with a squirrel logo. When you come out of Torbreck Woods you will reach a farm track at Cullaird Farm. Take a left here and walk along the track between farm buildings and fields. This is a working farm, so please watch out for vehicles and machinery and keep dogs on leads.

As you leave the farm behind, turn right and walk uphill on a forestry track. The track is wide and easy to follow. Ignore the other tracks going off to the right and left, they are used by local farmers.

After walking through woodland, the trail takes you to Drumashie Moor. Here the path can be more rugged and wet underfoot. On this section you share a route with the “Trail of the 7 Lochs”, so you can expect to meet horse riders.

The track leads you on to a single track road high above Loch Ness. Take a right here and you will soon see glimpses of the Loch through the trees on your left. On the right you pass a small gate leading to McBain memorial park, now sadly neglected.

After walking downhill for about a mile you cross a small bridge. Keep to the left here and follow the road past a few houses. As you approach Aldourie, look out for a well-made footpath leading off to the left. Take the path until you get to Aldourie Primary School. Here you join the main road to Dores. Take a left at the school and walk along the pavement until you reach the village of Dores.

Points of Interest

  • Dores Beach: Pebble beach with great views down the length of Loch Ness.
  • Dores Churchyard: Interesting little churchyard. Amongst the graves is that of Hugh Fraser, ‘the man with the iron hand’.
  • Aldourie Castle: Built in the Scottish baronial style, this impressive small castle dates back to the 17th century. Not open to the public.
  • Macbain Memorial Park: Now very neglected this walled enclosure was erected in 1961 by Hughston Mcbain of Mcbain.

User Notes

  • Between Torbreck woods and Dores a low level alternative to walking up on to Drumashie Moor can be taken by following the cycle route at the side of the B862 to Scaniport. Turn left here and follow a minor road which joins the route of the trail again at Darris.

Section 2 of The Trail

Dores to Foyers

Section Two takes us to the highest point of the trail with stunning views from the Fair Haired Lads Pass

Section Two:
Dores to Foyers

Length: 22 km
Walk time: 5 to 6 hours

On leaving Dores, walk along the side of the B852 for a short distance before dropping down off the road on the loch side on to a very rough track, which runs parallel to the road. This section is not way-marked until it crosses the road after approximately 2 km.

For the next 2 km, the trail weaves its way through mixed open woodland. Despite being close to the road, this is a delightful section with good views down on to Loch Ness. Eventually, this track ends and links on to a forest road.

Then for 6 km, the trail steadily rises up through an area of forest, which has recently been felled. Although somewhat barren, the views of Loch Ness just get better and better.

Eventually, you will arrive at the foot of what is known as the Fair Haired Lads Pass. It is here that the trail rises spectacularly in a series of very steep zig zags to a high point on the trail of almost 500 metres. This is undoubtedly the stage on the trail which feels wildest, and far from ‘the madding crowd’. Not only does it have great views of Loch Ness, but also south to the Monaliath Mountains. Until recently these mountains were a vast area of true wilderness rich in wildlife, but the proliferation of wind farms has changed this. Nevertheless, for the keen and experienced it is still a fantastic area to walk and climb and a place where winter snow clings on well into summer.

From the Fair Haired Lad’s Pass, the trail drops down on to a declassified minor road and winds its way down to Inverfarigaig. This is another beautiful section, a mixture of rough farmland and woodland, with a rich and colourful history. From Balchraggan there are breathtaking views down across Dun Dearduil to Loch Ness.The final kilometre of this section down to Inverfarigaig is down the ‘Corkscrew’. When you walk it you will know why!

From Inverfarigaig it’s a 5 km walk up through Farigaig woods and over a hillock to the village of Foyers. The trail over the hillock is quite steep, rough and boggy in places. To avoid this section, you can reach Foyers by following the forest track from Inverfarigaig to the small and beautiful lochan Torr an Tuill, and then down into Glen Liath and along the minor road to Foyers.

Points of Interest

  • The Fair Haired Lads Pass: The highest point of the trail at almost 500 metres, affords fantastic views over Loch Ness and beyond.
  • Castle Kitchie: Situated just above Ballaggan Farm on the Corkscrew road, little remains today of this hill fort, but its interesting name dates back to the 18th century and the activities of two young girls who once played here. They set about building a house but only built the kitchen and hence ‘Castle Kitchie’!
  • Site of St Moluag’s Chapel: Situated also close to Ballaggan Farm, the site of a 6th century chapel, named after St Moluag. A few gravestones still remain, but they are very hard to find.
  • The ‘Corkscrew’: This minor road was built in 1815 by William Fraser-Tytler and his father Lord Woodhouselee. Excellent views from a high point above Inverfarigaig down over Loch Ness.
  • The Black Rock: A 1 km detour off the trail at Inverfarigaig on the road to Inverness. Here, General Wade blasted his road through ‘2000 yards of solid rock’. An immense achievement at the time a small section has survived to this day.
  • Dun Dearduil: Towering 235 metres above Inverfarigaig, Dun Dearduil is topped by the remains of an Iron Age fort. The name Dun Dearduil translates as Deirdre’s Fort from the Celtic legend of ‘Deirdre of the Sorrows’. Beware though the crags are very dangerous and there is no clear path up to the summit.
  • Bryce Memorial: Memorial to the distinguished geologist James Bryce who fell to his death from the crags of Dun Dearduil in 1877.
  • Inverfarigaig Pier:  A 10 minute walk off the trail takes you down to Loch Ness and this wonderful Thomas Telford Pier which has survived the years remarkably intact. Ideal place for a picnic.
  • Boleskine Graveyard: Reached by another short 10 minute walk off the trail at Easter Boleskine, rich in history with many interesting gravestones. Opposite are the remains of Boleskine House (private property), once the home of notorious Victorian occultist Aleister Crowley at the turn of the 20th century.
  • Foyers Hydro Scheme Surge Access Tunnel: No access but just so you know what it is!
  • The Falls of Foyers: One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Highlands, a tourist attraction since Victorian times.
  • The Upper Falls of Foyers: Not as high as the Lower Falls but nevertheless still impressive. Best viewed from the grass bank at the side of the trail.
  • The Aluminium Factory: Located at Lower Foyers approximately 1km off the trail.  Closed since 1967, in 1900 it produced 1,000 tons of aluminium per year. Bombed during World War 2. Not open to the public

User Notes

  • There is a short section of trail, beyond the village of Dores on the B852, which is not waymarked for approximately 1 mile. Keep to the rough track between the road and the loch-side until the track comes up to the road and you see a waymarker on the opposite side.
  • The section of trail between Inverfarigaig and Foyers is not suitable for cyclists or horse riders. The alternate route is via Glen Lia (Gleann Liath).
  • At a number of places along the route of the trail it passes across land which is part of a farm/ working estate. Please exercise caution here and keep dogs on a leash at all times when livestock are in the vicinity. There have been a number of incidents recently when this has not been adhered to resulting in stress to the animals.
  • Between Whitebridge and Foyers there is a river crossing which although normally very shallow, after heavy rain may result in wet feet!

Section 3 of The Trail

Foyers to Fort Augustus

Section Three passes through mixed woodland and farmland and ends at the Caledonian Canal in Fort Augustus

Section Three:
Foyers to Fort Augustus

Length: 24.5 km

Walk time: 5.5 to 6.5 hours

From Foyers, the trail heads towards Whitebridge from the turnoff to the Upper Falls of Foyers, which is just before Cameron’s Tearoom. Cross the historic bridge and keep right. This section is beautiful, passing through mixed woodland and farmland. Just beware though, there are two small river crossings which can mean wet feet if there has been a lot of rain! Also, as there is livestock in fields, please act responsibly at all times and ensure that you close all gates behind you and keep dogs on leads. Just before Whitebridge you will pass through Dell Farm. Please be aware of moving vehicles and livestock here.

On reaching Whitebridge, take a right along the main road B862. The Whitebridge Hotel provides welcome sustenance if required.

In Whitebridge, walk along the B862 for approximately 300 m until a footpath leads off to the left, as always way-marked with the blue marker and squirrel. Follow the path along the River Fechlin until you get to a single track road. Turn left here, cross a bridge and walk away from Whitebridge until you get to a junction at a Bed & Breakfast (way-marked), where you turn right. Follow this road for approximately 3 km. You pass a cattle grid and a few houses, before the second cattle grid, take the path that leads to the right and walk alongside a drainage ditch on a smaller path.

Go through a gate and take the path across the ditch and to the left, then follow the river until you get to a wooden bridge, which you cross. After the bridge you will reach a forestry track – take a right here and follow the track to the main B862 road. Cross the road carefully and re-join the trail on the other side, where you follow a single track road towards Knockie Lodge.

Follow this road until you see the trail way marked going off to the left, which you follow uphill through an area of felled trees. When you reach another forestry track, turn right until again a path goes off to the left. Follow this footpath going steadily uphill until the path forks. Go right here (left leads to the road and parking for the viewpoint) and climb uphill on a clear walking track to the amazing viewpoint at Suidhe.

The track continues and then descends towards Loch Tarff. At Loch Tarff, cross the road and join the newly constructed trail on the opposite side. Walk along this wide track, which is again clearly waymarked. You will cross the road again a couple of times until you get to Glendoe works.
The trail now descends towards Fort Augustus through Glendoe Estate. Keep dogs on a lead here at all times! You enjoy fabulous views of the Loch until you reach its shores just before the village. You emerge back onto the B862 after passing through a gate. Take a right here and follow the road into the centre of the village.

Points of Interest

  • Loch Bran: 3km off the route of the trail at Foyers. Site of Special Scientific Interest, cared for by Scottish Natural Heritage. The loch has one of the richest habitats in Britain for dragonflies and damselflies.
  • Dell House: Visible from the trail near Whitebridge, this is a listed building which dates back to the 18th century. Please note that this is a private house and not open to the public.
  • General Wade Bridge: Located where the trail joins the B862 at Whitebridge.Built-in 1732 this is one of the finest surviving long span arch bridges built by Wade.
  • Suidhe Viewpoint (Suidhe Chuimein): At one of the highest points on the trail, Suidhe Chuimein means Cumin’s Seat and is named after Cumin the Fair, a 7thC abbot of Iona who founded Fort Augustus.
  • Loch Tarff: Picturesque small loch. Look out for black-throated divers on it in summer and red deer by its shores throughout the year.
  • Glendoe Waterfall: Close to the remains of the Wade bridge over the River Doe, this is an impressive waterfall when in full spate
  • Fort Augustus Abbey: With a rich and chequered history, the Abbey dates back hundreds of years. Most recently it has been converted into luxury self- catering apartments. Not open to the public.
  • The Caledonian Canal: Completed by Thomas Telford in 1822, 97 km in length from Inverness to Fort William, this the finest of Scotland’s Canal’s and passes through a number of locks in the centre of Fort Augustus.

 

South Loch Ness Trail Map

A new map featuring the South Loch Ness Trail and the full Loch Ness 360° Trail will be available to purchase from summer 2019. In the meantime, a basic map of the trail is available here to download free of charge.

Alternatively, also available is the South Loch Ness Access Group map which illustrates a number of trails in the area, including South Loch Ness Trail route. This map is available free from most accommodation providers on the South Side of Loch Ness.

Download Map (PDF)

The Journey Continues …

The South Loch Ness Trail connects up with the Great Glen Way, creating a loop around the whole of Loch Ness. If you’d like to continue your route around the north side of the loch, please see the Loch Ness 360° Trail website. This epic journey takes around 6 days to complete or 3 days to cycle.

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