The Trail of the Seven Lochs is a 50-mile long distance circular route running above and behind South Loch Ness, providing stunning views and varied terrain for walkers and riders alike. There is no designated starting point but a nominal starting point would be at the Forestry Commission Centre at Inverfarigaig where there is parking and toilets.
The route is fully waymarked but a map and compass is recommended due to some missing markers.
Suitable footwear is recommended as there are some very boggy areas.
I walked The Trail of 7 lochs over 3 days, carrying a tent and all the gear required for three consecutive nights but due to excessive rain on day 3, I head home early after completing the trail (skipping Loch Bunachton).
I chose to start from Inverness, following the Dores road, Holm Road and Essich road out of the city to reach a quiet minor road which is sign posted for Torbreck, the official starting point of the South Loch Ness Trail.
It can be found about 2 miles along this road. This added an extra 10 miles to this 50 mile trail.
Day 1 - Friday
I caught the 7:03am train from Aberdeen to Inverness and immediately began walking out of the city, heading for Torbreck and stopping at Tesco on the way. The walk to Torbreck is approximately 5 miles.
View from the Court House
Start of South Loch Ness Trail at Torbreck Woods
Upon reaching the start of the South Loch Ness trail at Torbreck, I continued through the woods to pass Cullaird farm and soon ascend to a forest track where the South Loch Ness Trail meets with The Trail of 7 lochs.
More deforestation going on
I followed the trail, soon passing above the village of Dores where the views of Loch Ness begin to open up.
Views begin to open up over Loch Ness
Then I stopped for something to eat before continuing through the Erchite Woods as far as Whitefield (an old stable). From Whitefield I descended to the bonny banks of Loch Ness where I intended to camp.
Looking down to Whitefield
I was pitched up by 4pm. I had a walk down to the shore where I cooked some dinner and collected some driftwood for a fire. I prepared the fire and spent the rest of the evening enjoying a tipple and some tunes by the fire, luckily it stayed dry.
Pitched up by Loch Ness
Chilling out by the fire
Day 2 - Saturday
I was up slightly later than intended. I head down to the shore to have Breakfast, (Oat Burst and a Coffee) before packing everything away and heading off about half past 10.
Waking up to a nice view
A walk down to the shore
I made my way back into the woods, once again passing Whitefield to arrive atThe Fair Haired Lads pass (one nasty ass, zig-zagged hill! ) (not the sort of hill you want to climb when you've been drinking the night before, especially with a heavy pack).
The Fair Haired Lads pass - not for weak knees
Into the eerie woods
I dragged myself to the top where I was awarded with some bonny views looking across Loch Ness to Drumnadrochit and Urquhart Castle.
A view climbing the hill
View from the top of the hill
View of Drumnadrochit and Urquhart Castle on the opposite side of Loch Ness
I zoomed in a little further and spotted ... something else!
I continued on the trail, through Balchraggan farm, descending to the small village of Inverfarigaig on the banks of Loch Ness (Yes, I climbed that hill for NOTHING!!) then into the Inverfarigaig forest, where there is parking and toilets. I took a 4 mile de-tour from here to Falls of Foyers where I could get supplies as there would not be another chance until I arrived back at Inverness.
Passing through Balchraggan
Some sheep at Balchraggan farm, never pleased to see me
Back on route, the weather stayed reasonably decent as I began walking into the evening, passing through Garthbeg and alongside Loch Mhor (It was extremely boggy at the foot of the loch as I found out the hard way!).
Arriving at Loch Mhor
I began looking for somewhere to camp at this point and did not find anywhere suitable until I reached the end of Loch Mhor at about 9.30pm. I must have covered a good 20 miles.
I finally pitched up by the side of a quiet road, made some food and a Hot Chocolate before nodding off.
Day 3 - Sunday
It rained on and off through the night and for much of day 3. The rain held off for a couple of hours in the morning, long enough for the tent to dry and to give me a chance to pack everything away, but it was going to be a wet one.
The rain got more frequent throughout the morning, spoiling my day as I made my way past the next 7 lochs: Loch Geo Glais, Loch Ruthven, Loch a'Choire, Loch Dentelchaig, Loch Chlachain, Loch Bunachton and finally Loch Ashie. (I know, that's 9 lochs in total, but I didn't make the trail, right!!)
Loch Geo Glais with Loch Duntelchaig in the background
Reaching the top of Loch Geo Glais - was glad to be finished this stage as it was rough and boggy
Leaving Loch Duntelchaig behind
Start of Loch Ruthven
Other end of Loch Duntelchaig (I think!)
I sped through the day, becoming a sodden wet mess, soaked through to the skin as it continued to rain. With nowhere to shelter or dry off, I lost interest, bypassing the walk around Loch Bunachton, my only aim was to reach Inverness and catch the next train home.
I'm sure this sign was mocking me!
Back at the start of the loop - thank god!
View of Inverness - a sight for sore eyes!
I eventually arrived back at Inverness about 8:30pm on time for the last train home, completing the trail of 7 lochs (short of visiting 1 loch).
Walking along the River Ness
Conclusion: This walk is best walked in stages, on a nice day with company. It can be quite rough and boggy in places and is not really suitable for overnight stays as there is not much in the way of accommodation or campsites on the route. There is also not many suitable places to wild camp.
As for my train journey home, I have nothing nice to say about the train conductor who wouldn't allow me to use my cheap advance ticket just because it was for the following day!! Instead I was made to buy another (full fare) ticket, making the last day a really rotten one!!! Next time I take the bus.
Photo collection here: