Walks, Wildlife and Hidden Gems

Immerse yourself into the natural surroundings of Inverness and Loch Ness

If being outside in nature, taking in the surroundings on a gentle walk, keeping your eyes peeled for local wildlife and discovering hidden gems is just what you need for your Highland break, you will be delighted with the variety on offer in Inverness and Loch Ness.

Every path leads to a new adventure, where the landscapes will recharge your wellbeing and the exercise will revitalise your energy.

On this page we will provide you with many suggestions, you will have no choice but to stay longer, we will uncover the world of walks in the area, where you can explore the wildlife and natural hidden gems.

Walks in Inverness and Loch Ness

There are an incredible number of wonderful walks in and around Inverness and Loch Ness. The majority of them immerse you into the surrounding nature, provide stunning views and give you the opportunity to spot wildlife in abundance.

Although we cannot list every walk available, let us inspire you with some of the popular, accessible walks in the destination as well as where to find more options and also some challenging hikes and trails

two people hiking

Walks to discover wildlife

Although you are likely to encounter birds and wildlife on many of the walks in Inverness and Loch Ness, there are some walks that your chances may be higher.

  • Loch Ruthven - an RSPB Nature Reserve and is one of the best places in the area to spot birds and wildlife.
  • Merkinch nature reserve
  • Foyers Falls - Not only is this a wonderful water fall walk, it is also a great place to spot red squirrels.
  • Loch Bran - One of the top spots in Scotland to see damselflies and dragonflies
  • Abriachan Trails - So much to explore at the Abriachan trails
  • Dundreggan Rewilding Centre - Explore ancient pinewood, see rewilding in action, discover centuries of Gaelic culture. Immerse yourself in nature with fun activities for the whole family.

Canal and coastal walks

Longer hikes and trails

If you prefer something a little more challenging, there are many longer hikes and trails that offer everything from a few hours hiking to multi-day hikes.


Caledonian Canal

Hill Walking in Inverness and Loch Ness

One of the most popular hills that provides incredible views over Loch Ness and beyond is Meall Fuar Mhonaidh, this route starts close to Drumnadrochit.

The closest Munro (a mountain over 914 metres high) is Ben Wyvis, north of Inverness. There are also some more challenging munros in Glen Affric and Glen Strathfarrar.

Walk Highlands

An extremely useful resource for all types of walks and hillwalking is Walk Highlands. Their website and app will give you every option available over and above what we have provided, their detailed walk descriptions, start point information and time/distance references are second to none, we highly recommend!

Meall Fuar Mhonaidh

Wildlife in Inverness and Loch Ness

There is no doubt you are surrounded by wildlife when visiting Inverness and Loch Ness, the destination really is a haven for wildlife lovers. Although it can sometimes be a bit tricky spotting what you are looking for, we can give you some ideas to put you in with the best chances. 

You will see deer grazing in the fields and mountains, in the summer they are a little more difficult to spot as they blend into the scenery so well. You don't always have to go far as a walk along the River Ness that runs through Inverness can give you sightings of otters and seals as well as many birds as you walk through the Ness islands.

red squirrel

If you love water wild life and sea birds a great way to be in with a chance of many different sightings is a wildlife cruise with Dolphin Spirit. They will take you on the Moray Firth where you can spot, seals, otters and an array of sea birds.

You can explore the local nature reserves Merkinch in Inverness, Loch Ruthven an RSPB nature reserve South of Loch Ness and Loch Bran also on the South side of Loch Ness and is one of the top spots in Scotland to see damselflies and dragonflies such as the Brilliant Emerald Dragonfly. Not forgetting Glen Affric Nature Reserve where you can look our for anything from stags to birds of prey.



If you have a passion for bird of prey, Dunrobin Castle hosts daily birds of prey flying demonstrations on the Castle lawn. These shows featuring Peregrine and Gyrfalcon as well as Harris hawks. Learn more about other local birds of prey as well as the ancient art of falconry. A truly wonderful part of the castle experience.


A little further South from Inverness is the Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig near Aviemore, the park is open seven days a week and you will have the chance to see a range of native animals like the Scottish wildcat, as well as species from around the world including snow leopards, Amur tigers, Japanese macaques and Scotland’s only polar bears.

Dunrobin Castle

Hidden Gems

There are some really beautiful, natural hidden gems in the destination, from waterfalls to gardens. Most of them are not hidden, just lesser known, although they get more and more popular year on year where visitors want to explore off the beaten track locations and stunning natural places.

We could write a really extensive list of places, so we won't be able to list them all but here are some special places to get you started....

Lets start with some waterfalls, most of which have lovely woodland walks and wildlife surrounding them.

Plodda Falls, Falls Of Foyers, Divach Falls, Dog Falls, Allt Na Criche


Plodda Falls

Botanic Gardens, Nurseries and Garden Centres

If you have a love for plants and gardens, we have some great suggestions for you.

Inverness Botanic Gardens is a real hidden gem in Inverness, tucked away close to the Ness islands and Leisure centre, it is home to a tropical house, cactus house, wonderful gardens and you can enjoy some cake or lunch whilst you are there so you don't have to rush.

If you like to wander local garden centres for new inspiration and discoveries we have 3 wonderful options,

Abriachan Nurseries, Simpsons Garden Centre and Howdens Garden Centre

Inverness Botanic Gardens

The Ness Islands is known locally for being a real natural gem in the centre of Inverness, among the hustle and bustle of the city centre you can escape into a slice of nature for a stroll or sit on one of the sculpted benches and watch the River Ness flow past.

Reelig Glen is a very special hidden gem found on the old road towards Beauly from Inverness. Here you can find some of Britain’s tallest trees, some well over 100 years old. A well signposted circular walk takes you through this hidden glen – keep an eye out for wildlife as you go!

A similar place to Reelig glen to visit a little further north of Inverness is the Fairy Glen in Rosemarkie, a magical broadleaf woodland with two waterfalls at the end.

Reelig Glen

More Hidden Gem Inspiration

Find out how many of the 23 hidden gems Kathi found on her visit you will want to add to your bucket list!

Beautiful Gardens in Inverness & Loch Ness

Do you love nothing more than spending time wandering through gardens filled with blooming, plants, bushes, scrubs and trees... fine out where you can do just that in Inverness and Loch Ness.

Visit More Bonnie Places

Do you still need more inspiration for bonnie places to visit around Loch Ness, this blogs will give enough options to full your itinerary to the brim of great adventures.