The South Loch Ness Trail

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, Foyers, Whitebridge and eventually Fort Augustus. To walk, cycle (mountain bike only) or ride this trail is a fantastic experience and takes you past many points of interest such as the Falls of Foyers, 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. Before walking be sure to read and print our South Loch Ness Trail User notes here.


South Loch Ness Trail Leaflet South Loch Ness Trail Map South Loch Ness User Notes

The Route

Day1 – Section 1: Torbreck – Dores Length – 11km – Walk time: 2.5 to 3 hours

*Points of Interest: Dores Beach, Dores Churchyard, Aldourie castle, The McBain Memorial Park

The route officially begins (or ends) at Torbreck with a short walk through woodland before turning right up past Cuillard farm onto a forest track. After a couple of miles this takes you up on to Drumashie Moor. From here the trail descends on minor road to the main B852 at Aldourie Primary School. Here the trail turns left and follows the path down to the village of Dores and Loch Ness. This section of trail is a total of 11km. It can be extended though by 4km by crossing the road at Aldourie primary school instead of turning right, and heading down the road towards Aldourie Castle and Torr Woods. After about 1km turn left through the gate, keep to the right and follow the lovely track down by Loch Dochfour round to Dores Beach and the village of Dores

Section 2: Dores- Foyers Length – 22km – Walk time: 5 to 6 hours

*Points of Interest: The Change House layby, The ‘Corkscrew’,The Black Rock, Dun Dearduil, Bryce Memorial, General Wade Bridge, Inverfarigaig Pier, the Falls of Foyers (Lower & Upper) Foyers Hydro Surge Tunnel, The Aluminium Factory, Boleskine Graveyard On leaving Dores walk along the side of the B852 for a few hundred metres before dropping down off the road on to a rough track which runs parallel to the road. For the next 3km 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. For the next 6km 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 5km 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 users 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 walking along the minor road to Foyers.

Day2 – Section 1: Foyers- Whitebridge – Length 9km – Walk time: 2 to 3 hours

Points of Interest: Loch Bran, Dell House, General Wade Bridge

From Foyers the trail heads towards Whitebridge from the turnoff to the Upper Falls of Foyers, which is just before Cameron’s Tearoom. 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. On reaching Whitebridge, the Whitebridge Hotel provides welcome sustenance if required.

Section 2: Whitebridge- Fort Augustus – Length 16.5km – Walk time 6 to 7 hours

Points of Interest: Suidhe Viewpoint ( Suidhe Chuimein) Loch Tarff, Glendoe Waterfall, Fort Augustus Abbey, the Caledonian Canal

The first part of this section follows a minor road running parallel to the B862 for about 3km before changing to the rough trail and rising steadily up to Suidhe Viewpoint at 450m. The views from the viewpoint are spectacular and with the B862 passing only a few 100 metres from it, it’s no surprise that it is also a very popular stopping off point for those travelling around by car. The final section down to Fort Augustus is without question the best section for all users (including those with disabilities), the trail has been purpose built over the past two years. Passing alongside Loch Tarff it winds its way down to Fort Augustus. The views are once again spectacular and walking along the final few hundred metres to the end of the trail at Fort Augustus Abbey, with views up the length of Loch Ness, is a fitting way to end a walk of the South Loch Ness Trail.

Download Trail User Notes

Points of Interest- more detail

Day 1

1. Torbreck to Dores
 Dores Beach: Pebble beach with great views down the length of Loch
 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 17thC. Not open to the public.
 The Macbain Memorial Park: Now very neglected this walled enclosure waserected in 1961 by Hughston Mcbain of Mcbain

2. Dores to Foyers
 The Change House: Remains of the house where horses were changed and which Boswell and Johnson visited on their Highland Tour in 1773. Forestry Commission Scotland have created a short trail to the site from the lay-by which takes you down close to the shore of Loch Ness.
 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: Another Iron Age hill fort, 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’!
 The site of 6thC St Moluag’s Chapel: St Moluag was a noted saint of the church of Iona. A few gravestones still remain but they are very hard to find. For many
years after the site was closed unbaptised infants were buried here.
 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: 1km beyond 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’ 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.
 General Wade Bridge: A short walk down from the forest car park this bridge is in danger of collapse but built in 1732 it is yet another monument to the engineers and masons who built Wade’s roads.
 Inverfarigaig Pier: Another Thomas Telford Pier which has survived remarkably intact. Ideal place for a picnic.
 Boleskine Graveyard: Small burial ground overlooking Loch Ness. Rich in history with many interesting gravestones. Opposite the remains of Boleskine House ( private property), once the home of notorious Victorian occultist Aleister Crowley at the turn of the 20thC.
 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: Closed since 1967, in 1900 it produced 1,000 tons of aluminium per year. Bombed during World War 2. Not open to the public

Day 2

1. Foyers to Whitebridge
 Loch Bran: 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: a listed building which dates back to the 18thC. Please note that this is a private house and not open to the public.
 General Wade bridge: Built-in 1732 this is one of the finest surviving long span arch bridges built by Wade.

2. Whitebridge to Fort Augustus 
 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, 60 miles 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 Heritage Booklet

For more information on South Loch Ness and the points of interest along the trail you can purchase the “South Loch Ness Heritage Booklet” for £3 and ‘A Country Called Stratherrick’ by Alan B. Lawson for £7 from the South Loch Ness Heritage Group.

South Loch Ness Trail FAQs

Q: Can I get to the start of the South Loch Ness Trail at Torbreck by public transport?
A: At the Inverness end there is a bus service which operates 3 times per day from Inverness Monday to Friday, 2 times on Saturday, no service on Sunday. It will take you to within 200 yards of the start. For up-to-date public transport information and timetables, please visit Traveline Scotland.

Q: Where along the trail are there places to stop and get something to eat and drink?
A: Food and drink is available at the Whitebridge Hotel, The Waterfall Café and the Craigdarroch House Hotel at Foyers, Cameron’s Tearoom just outside Foyers village, Loch Ness Shores Caravan Park and the
Dores Inn on Dores Beach.

Q: Are there any books I can buy on South Loch Ness and points of interest along the route?
A: There are two very informative guides to the South Side of Loch Ness. Users can purchase the “South Loch Ness Heritage Booklet” for £3 and ‘A Country Called Stratherrick’ by Alan B. Lawson for £7 from the South Loch Ness Heritage Group.

Q: What is the mobile phone reception like along the length of the trail?
A: Variable! The position has improved substantially over the past two years but don’t rely on your mobile phone to keep in touch!

Q: Are there sections of the trail that can be walked as part of a day-walk?
A: Yes, there are a number of sections of the trail that can be walked as a day walk. Three of the most popular are as follows: 1) Foyers – Inverfarigaig return: Very popular this 10km walk has numerous opportunities to explore ‘off trail’. To return to Foyers users can either return by the same route or follow another local trail which drops down close to the lochside. 2) Fort Augustus to Suidhe, one way: Another 10km route this route starts at Fort Augustus Abbey and winds its way up newly constructed trail to Suidhe Viewpoint, one of the highest points on the trail. A beautiful section it has many opportunities for great photo stops. 3) Torbreck – Dores return: This route is 22km and can be returned on minor road thus avoiding a steep climb back up the minor road at Aldourie. Lunch available at the Dores Inn on the shores of Loch Ness

Q: How much of the trail is on road?
A: At present, approximately 8 km follows either minor roads or unclassified roads. The longest stretch of road is between Knockie and Whitebridge.

Q: I want to cycle the Trail. Where can I hire bikes from?
A: We recommend Ticket to Ride Bicycle Hire. Tel: 01463 419160

Q: Is there a map available of the trail?
A: Presently there is no bespoke map of the trail although we hope to have one available by April 2019. In the meantime the South Loch Ness Access Group have a very good map of local walks including the South Loch Ness Trail. This is available at accommodations on the south side of Loch Ness or from Visit Inverness Loch Ness. Contact Us or phone us on +44(0)1463- 219219.

The map is free although a contribution to the Access Group is appreciated.

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