It’s one of the biggest and deepest bodies of water in the UK and home to a monster called Nessie, which is why thousands of tourists flock each year to visit Loch Ness near Inverness.
Earlier this month, after nine years of hard work, a major section of the South Loch Ness Trail, which offers walkers, off-road cyclists and horse riders spectacular views of the loch and the wild landscapes to the south side of it, was completed.
The trail between Fort Augustus and Inverness measures more than 34 miles and uses a mixture of existing minor roads, paths, forest tracks and stretches of the newly constructed trail, which also comes close to the villages of Dores and Foyers, so there’s plenty of opportunity to stop, enjoy the scenery and a refreshment or two.
The last link of the trail, between the Glendoe Hydro works entrance and Loch Tarff was officially opened by Highland Council Provost Helen Carmichael who said: “Highland Council has supported the development of the South Loch Ness Trail by VisitInvernessLochNess since the idea was first suggested back in 2009, in recognition of the economic impact that it could bring to the area.
“We are therefore delighted that this last major section of the trail has now been completed enabling users to walk and cycle almost completely off road between Inverness and Fort Augustus.”
Chris Taylor, of VisitScotland, said: “There is breathtaking scenery to be enjoyed round Loch Ness and the Great Glen, whether on horseback, two wheels or on foot. With a variety of rich habitats to explore, there is always the chance of spotting local wildlife, including buzzards and red deer.”
Starting in Fort Augustus, initially, the trail rises steeply to Loch Tarff and takes in the Suidhe viewpoint at 1,200 feet, where you can enjoy fabulous views of south Loch Ness while enjoying a walk through quiet, peat-clad moor.
The trail then drops down through woodland and follows a minor road to the hamlet of Whitebridge, then follows the route of the old road, created by General Wade, to the village of Foyers, home to a not-to-be missed waterfall.
The trail then climbs up again to the hamlet of Inverfarigaig, and again there are fantastic loch views to be enjoyed as well as woodland full of wildlife.
There’s plenty to see in Inverfarigaig, including the remains of an iron-age fort, a historic pier and bridge and the famous Boleskine House, once home of Led Zepplin’s Jimmy Page and Aleister Crowley, aka, The Beast of Boleskine.
From Inverfarigaig the trail follows what is known locally as the corkscrew road to a high point on forest track 1,300ft above Loch Ness.
It is here that the trail offers the most spectacular views up and down the length of the loch and at points is directly across from the famous Urquhart Castle and the village of Drumnadrochit.
From here the trail drops down gradually to the picturesque village of Dores at the head of Loch Ness. From Dores beach, there’s great views down the length of the loch and there’s every chance you’ll bump into legendary Nessie hunter Steve Feltham there.
From Dores, some of the trail runs alongside the road via a separate path, before changing direction and taking a pleasant route through lovely peaceful countryside. It then re-joins the roadside pathway before rising to Torbreck on the outskirts of Inverness.