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The Affric Kintail Way from Inverness

The Affric Kintail Way from Inverness


Postby andrewl7642 » Sat Nov 07, 2015 6:35 pm

Route description: Affric Kintail Way

Date walked: 27/08/2015

Time taken: 3 days

Distance: 99 km

Ascent: 598m

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The Affric Kintail Way is a waymarked long distance cross-country route, stretching 44 miles from Drumnadrochit to Morvich in the Scottish Highlands. I chose to start from Inverness on the Great Glen Way thereby increasing the total walking distance to approximately 62 miles.

I would be completing the walk over 3 days, covering approximately 20 miles per day through Thursday to Sunday, carrying all my gear and camping throughout. I would be walking alone as nobody else was interested.

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Beginning the walk from Inverness after catching the early morning train from Aberdeen.


Day 1 - Thursday (Inverness to Drumnadrochit - 18 miles)
Upon arriving at Inverness Station my first port of call was The Kings Highway (weatherspoons pub) where I could enjoy a full Scottish Breakfast before disappearing into the sticks. It would keep me fighting fit on my 18 mile walk to Drumnadrochit.

After that excitement was over I head up to the Court (more popularly known as the castle) and picked up the start/end of the Great Glen Way. It was about 10.30am when I set off.

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Pondering along the River Ness.

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View from up the hill, leaving Inverness by the high road

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loads of deforestation going on, soon be no forests left in Scotland

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Into the wilderness

I walked 10 miles before stopping for a break at Abriachan Eco-Cafe and Campsite. I had a quick Coffee and a biscuit and continued towards Drumnadrochit.

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I soon began to approach Drumnadrochit, taking in some pretty views over Loch Ness as I descended into the village at about 6.30pm. It turned out to be a lovely evening.

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Urquhart Castle by Loch Ness on the outskirts of Drum.

Once in Drumnadrochit I made my way to the campsite at Borelum Farm (basically at the other side of the village... Oh it would be!!). By this time my legs were aching and I was happy to finally arrive and get settled down, enjoying the last few hours of sunshine before hitting the hay. I had another long day to look forward to in the morning.

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Borelum Farm camping

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It was a nice night and there were a few other campers dotted about enjoying the sunshine.

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made some new friends


Day 2 - Friday (Drumnadrochit to Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin - 20 miles?)
It rained quite a bit through the night and showers continued until mid morning. I eventually forced myself up and made my breakfast (Porridge and Coffee) while I waited for the rain to stop.

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I soon made my way back into the village to find the official starting point of the Affric Kintail Way, popping into the Co-op for supplies first. I then began my joureny into unknown territory, ascending into the forest.

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picking up the start of the trail, and a path I'd never taken

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View point looking back down on the village

The whole day was pretty much spent in the forest, following shaded paths and tracks all the way to Cannich.
It was quite a boring walk by myself and not much views mainly because of all the trees but I'm glad these woods haven't (yet) been felled. It is good to know there are still some unspoilt areas left in Scotland (touch wood).

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ascending deep into the forest as the views begin to open up for a short while.

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nae puffin here!

After 8 miles of forest walking there was 5 miles of road walking to reach Cannich. Just what I needed to raise the spirits on a such an already boring day! To make matters worse the rain came on, for most of the 5 miles, although it dried up after reaching Cannich. What a relief I could not wait to get to the Glen Affric Hotel and enjoy a quick Pint before the next stage.

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following the road to Cannich.... "TAXI!!"

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FINALLY!!

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The Glen Affric, a quick pint here... ermmmmm!

Much to my delight the Glen Affric was sorta closed and I had to make do with an Ice Cream instead, inbetween the rain showers.

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A well earned Magnum, deserved it!

A quick refreshment and on I went, following the road uphill behind the Glen Affric Hotel to reach yep you guessed it... another forest!! By this time it was about 5pm.

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I carried on through the forest to reach Dog Falls about 2 hours later, a nice little picnic area beside the fast flowing River Affric. I attempted to sit down and take a break here and considered pitching the tent but the midges were having none of it! Nightmare things!! I could not even sit down for 30 seconds without them trying to eat me and so I kept going.

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Wnding my way through the forest

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Reaching Dog Falls

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River Affric by Dog Falls

I crossed the bridge over the Affric and ascended once more entering more forest keeping my eye out for somewhere to pitch up for the night as it was beginning to get late. That is what I love about the light summer nights you can keep going and going as far as your legs can take you.

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Viewpoint overlooking Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin

I passed another viewpoint and thought about camping there but the ground was slightly boggy so I carried on another mile or so and found a perfect spot overlooking Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin.

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Finally pitched up by Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin as it began to get dark.

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I got picthed up just in time for the rain coming on.

I made some grub and Hot Chocolate then settled down for the night as the rain pattered down on the tent for most of the night.


Day 3 - Saturday (Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin to Morvich via Glen Affric - 22 miles?)

I carried on for about 5 miles before reaching the end of Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin.

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I soon reached a junction indicating the start of the Glen Affric walk. I made my way up to the Glen Affric car park first to use the facilities, hoping to replenish my water container as the rain came on pretty heavy.

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which way now?

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View from the car park.

I pondered about the toilet block, staying dry while planning my next move. I considered giving up and going home as I knew there was a summer bus due at some point in the day but didn't know what time. The heavy rain and the fact I had no water left was putting me off staying.

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It calmed down a bit and I made the right choice to keep going as the Glen Affric Walk turned out to be the best section. I managed to replenish my water supply after discovering an easy accessable burn about 2 miles into the walk. I used Chlorine Dioxide tablets to sterilise.

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River Affric from the bridge

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into the wilderness as the adventure finally begins

I continued through the glen, soon passing Loch Affric as the views began to open up and it became very scenic.

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Passing Loch Affric

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Reaching the end of Loch Affric

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Heading deeper into the glen as it became more and more remote

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After walking 8.7 miles I arrived at Alt Beithe, a remote location where a Youth Hostel is located, but I wasn't stopping, had to keep going. I passed a few people including a German girl who was also travelling solo.

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Alt Beithe Youth Hostel

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I continued to follow the River Affric for a short while then began to ascend Fionngleann to reach Camban bothy at about 5pm where I stopped for dinner (Mug Shot Snack Stop x2 and a Hot Chocolate).

Nobody else was at the bothy when I arrived, I considered staying over but I wanted to get to Morvich so I could get home the following day, I'd had enough of the rain showers yet again.

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Approaching Camban bothy

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Camban bothy

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Soon after I arrived at the bothy the german girl showed up and I had a wee chat with her before I made my way towards Morvich. It was her first time in Scotland, she had just finished her studies and was now enjoying a weeks hiking in Scotland, also her first bothy stay, I reminded her to watch out for mice then got on my way. By that time it was just after 6pm and I still had 10 miles still to walk... was I going to make it before dark??

I continued through the beautiful glen and much to my dismay my cameras memory card began to run out of space and I couldn't take any more videos or landscape pictures. I had to go through and start deleting some pictures to gain some storage space as I pondered on though the rain showers.

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One of the best pictures I managed to take while pondering through the Glen

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lots of bonny views

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bonny waterfall

I approached the end of the glen around 8pm as it soon began to get dark , I still had about 5 miles to go.
I passed Glenlicht house, a bothy used by the Edinburgh University mountaineering club, currently under renovation.

I got my head torch on as I began to follow a track to Morvich, It got quite eerie at one point when I walked into a flock of sheep, I was not expecting them and all I could see in the distance was a whole lot of eye balls reflecting light back at me, for all I knew it could have been a pack of hungry wolves. I knew I shouldn't have watched "The Grey" before I left home.

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Approaching Glenlicht house

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Following the track down Gleann Lichdto to Morvich as it began to get dark

I finally reached Morvich about 10pm as the rain came on heavy (quite lucky really). I made my way to the campsite which was now closed for the evening but that wasn't stopping me. The campsite was fairly quiet as I got pitched up in the rain and then had some grub before crashing out. I had to pay £12.50 in the morning for the priviledge of using the owners posh grass. Bit of a rip-off for backpacker rate.

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Morning at Morvich Caravan Club (ripped off!!)

After being ripped off, I walked 2 miles down to the main road where I could catch the bus back to Inverness where my return train to Aberdeen awaited my presence.

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waiting for the bus back to civilization

Overall, on this walk I only really enjoyed the stretch from Glen Affric to Morvich (although it was also quite nice along Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin) it was the most scenic section and had a real feeling of remoteness, away from it all. If I had known this I probably would have started from Glen Affric and stayed at the Camban bothy, but I may go back with a friend and do just that, on a nicer weekend maybe.

Photo album here:
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/100408387173570597610/album/AF1QipN66Aeb5g1G64hvOhjIGfsOf4YIyM6dadMCeTVP
Last edited by andrewl7642 on Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:59 am, edited 7 times in total.
andrewl7642
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Re: Affric Kintail Way from Inverness

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Nov 07, 2015 11:32 pm

It seems a while since you've done a long distance trail Andrewl.

I only know the GGW section and the walk along Loch Affric so found this really interesting.

The Abriachan café is a must (a bit different from the norm!!).

The path after Loch Affric looked much better than I expected.
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Re: Affric Kintail Way from Inverness

Postby petert847 » Sun Nov 08, 2015 3:45 am

Interesting an helpful report with great pictures as usual. Thanks for sharing.
Completely agree with you about the boring early stretches - but the stretch between loch Africa and morvich is so nice it's worth taking time over just to enjoy the landscape.
I went in the autumn so no buses to cut the start any shorter than Cannich But if I went again I'd start as far down as possible and add on going north or south from morvich to make it a bit more of trip. It's a quick way into the heart of some lovely country from Inverness.
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Re: Affric Kintail Way from Inverness

Postby gaffr » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:04 am

Nice combination of both routes. Before it became a 'Way' I walked the route from the West and used a bike from the tarred road to get back to the East. On another occasion I went by way of alternative route over the Bealach Sgairne and Gaorsaic.
Good to see the finger post distances on the Great Glen Way in Kilometres :D to match up with the maps we use although it seems that you are still a user of miles for distances. :?
Is the camping place at one of the Camping/Caravan Club sites? It does seem, as I have found out, that non members are charged at higher rates for a pitch.
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Re: Affric Kintail Way from Inverness

Postby andrewl7642 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:15 pm

Gordie - I have done quite a few long distance trails this year I just haven't found the time to write reports for them all, maybe I should take a diary and write as I go along, then all I need to do is type it up upon my return. Also I've been concentrating more on videos now, have quite a few videos put up on Youtube. That's me taking a break now until the spring but got a few more write ups to put on here.

I agree the Abriachan Eco-Cafe Campsite is a must if passing that way, I've stopped there 5 times now and camped there twice. Also I won free camping for life there so I don't have to pay! Not so fond of their toilet block though, I think that could do with replacement!

Gaffr - I actually prefer distances to be marked in miles rather than km because that is what I was taught when growing up. metres and miles. Still haven't quite got the hang of km's yet but I'm getting there.
Yes the Morvich caravan site is a members club but I had a look on their website and it doesn't mention anything about their price list being for members only.
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Re: Affric Kintail Way from Inverness

Postby davidbrownie » Sun Jan 03, 2016 12:55 pm

A very enjoyable report and great photos. As you say, the first half of the AKW through the coniferous forests can be a little dull at times and I sometimes found myself questioning its merits as I marched down another firebreak. But I think there's a benefit to doing the lot instead of starting from Cannich or Dog Falls because you get a real appreciation of the landscape changing from east to west and you experience 'the journey' more fully - a bit like listening to the full "OK Computer" album instead of just picking out "Karma Police" and "No Surprises". :lol:
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