Drum to Inverness with minimal ascent & surprise coffee stop

Route: Great Glen Way 6: Drumnadrochit to Inverness

Date walked: 05/03/2019

Distance: 29km

During the 11 years I lived on the west side of Inverness I regularly walked the dogs on parts of the final stage of the GGW, up from the old hospital and behind Dunain hill. Then around 2005 I made a more organised attempt to walk the length of it, but the furthest south I got was Loch Oich with Moira and after that hills became a bigger draw and the GGW was left unfinished and forgotten. That is until last year when we did the WHW and enjoyed it so much that we fancied doing another and the GGW came back into the frame.

Living locally we decided to do Drumnadrochit to Inverness in two parts, starting at Blackfold, which is the point where, when I did it the first time, it was the start of a long tramp on tarmac towards Abriachan.

We did the Blackfold to Inverness part with Callie last May and came back to it on 5th March 2019 to walk from Blackfold to Drumnadrochit, which although not planned for this reason, does mean you avoid most of the ascent! But there's no public transport to Blackfold so is only possible with either the use of two cars or a driver to drop you off (which we had in the obliging shape of Pete who was our driver on the WHW).

Blackfold start point - photo taken 15th May 2018

As happens so often with Scottish weather the brighter blue sky day was early March, the duller grey sky day mid May. Never what you expect.



The path is new and well made with open views ahead and to the north west.

Look at that sky

View north west

Zoomed to Sgurr na Lapaich (Mullardochs)

Zoomed to Strathfarrars

There is still a fairly long section on the minor road after the path joins it and there is occasional traffic to watch out for as it crosses the open moor, passing a few houses, before reaching a signed right turn on to a path through birch, gorse and broom. Not long after turning off the road we came across a group of signs informing us there was coffee to be had! I didn't believe it would be open but out of sheer noseyness we followed the sign to have a look.

Lured in by sign

We came across a number of wooden sheds among trees, one of which turned out to be a compost toilet, and kept going towards a house but were stopped in our tracks by a sign saying "Stop here" beside a hand bell to ring for attention and a short distance away a large black pig deep in slumber with an equally large dog eyeing us up. We didn't need to ring the bell, as a woman, whose name we learned was Sandra, came out to meet us and led us back to a picnic table where she would take our order. She told us what was available, but couldn't remember the prices, so we ordered a cup of coffee and a piece of lemon cake. Normally in the interests of reducing sugar intake we would have shared a piece of cake but somehow in this context that would have felt stingy. Then we waited. When our order arrived it was anything but stingy. Two enormous slices of iced lemon cake, sandwiched thickly with butter icing, and a large pot of coffee. The bill was £18 which came as a bit of a shock - but, to be fair, for the size of those pieces and volume of coffee we would have paid the same in our local nursery Simpsons.

Check the size of that cake

Sandra stayed around for a blether and told us she's open all the time and often has groups of campers from the campsite at Tomachoin coming in for breakfast. We must have been there about 40 minutes but we were in no desperate hurry and it was all very pleasant, if slightly unexpected.

Once on our way again it wasn't long before we crossed the Abriachan road and followed the familiar track in to the forest trails area. This is a place we often come to with the grandkids and because of that we didn't take WH's suggested detour. But for anyone who hasn't been there it's well worth a proper visit with its bird hide, dragonfly pond, tree houses, iron age house, carved wooden seats and good path to the Carn na Leitire viewpoint above Loch Ness.

Abriachan trails fortress on stilts and forestry classroom

The next part of the way is on a wide forestry track and passes the remains of a Canadian lumberjack camp, which provided timber for WW2. From here it was pretty much downhill all the way to Drumnadrochit

Loch Ness

Picnic spot

Urquhart bay and castle

The path finally emerges on the A82 opposite Temple Pier where my granny arrived by boat from Inverfarigaig each Monday morning to attend what is now Glenurquhart High School, returning on Friday. Now, over 100 years later, my son is teaching there - more unlikely than it sounds, since none of us lived in Inverness until recent years. The last part of the route is on pavement alongside the busy road and we headed into one of the cafes to fill in the time until my son got out of school to pick us up and give us a lift with him back to Inverness.


We had walked the remaining part of this stage between Blackfold and Inverness on 15th May 2018, with my dog Callie who is no longer with us, but can be glimpsed in some of the photos.

Heading north from Blackfold

Beauly Firth

Moray Firth and Inverness

New housing built in shadow of old Craig Dunain hospital

Dunain hill with mast on top


Caledonian canal

Golf course

River Ness and cathedral from Ness islands

War memorial

WH said the end point of the Great Glen Way is somewhere on the Ness Islands. But that doesn't feel right and as far as we are concerned the completion point is at the castle under the iconic statue of Flora MacDonald and her dog, looking into the distance for her prince who had long since departed to France.

Suspension bridge and Inverness castle

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Attachment(s) Date walked: 26/11/2018
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