River, canal, two lochs, stags and a path to rival the A9

Route: South Loch Ness Trail: Fort Augustus to Foyers

Date walked: 26/11/2018

Distance: 8km

In March 2018 Moira and I completed the South Loch Ness Trail as part of our run up to the West Highland Way. Well we thought we had completed it but then in August another stretch was opened between Fort Augustus and Loch Tarff. We'd already ticked off that we'd done the Trail but now it was unfinished so we had to get back down there to walk the new bit.

My idea was to take one car and do the walk there and back. But when it came to the day Moira had to be back by 4.00 and didn't want to feel under time pressure so Pete came to the rescue and agreed to be our driver, dropping us in FA and picking us up at Loch Tarff, with the reward of lunch at Cameron's Tearoom, Foyers.

He brought 14 year old dog Jack and 4 month old pup Keira. Neither of them would be able to cover much of the distance but he planned to walk with us for a bit at the start, spend an hour in FA, drive to Loch Tarff and walk some of the way back to meet us.

We parked in the big car park, gave the old dog a short walk and left him to snooze in the car, while the pup came with us. Guidelines for walking labrador puppies is 5 minutes per month of their lives so she could walk for 20 minutes. That meant 10 minutes with us, then 10 minutes back to the car with Pete. She would have happily gone further but there's a risk of over-exercise damaging immature joints, leading to arthritis. We hadn't known this with a previous pup.... and in later life he developed arthritis. So we were being more careful this time.

We got her at 8 weeks from a gamekeeper in Glen Esk and called her Keira which is Irish Gaelic for dark-haired girl.

Keira at 8 weeks

First bridge we crossed is over the River Oich near where it flows into Loch Ness (M's pic)

Moira and the Mill Shop in former church

Caledonian Canal Centre where Pete filled in the time with a newspaper, coffee and scone

Turning point for the pup

The route we followed is exactly as described by WH and it would be difficult to go wrong as the path is well constructed and signed. What struck us both is that no expense has been spared putting in this route at a time Highland Council is strapped for cash and clawing back millions from essential sectors like education. Not sure how they could afford this unless other bodies were involved, which they clearly were.

On the plus side having new long distance routes available can only be good for tourism, once they are known. The south side of Loch Ness is less frequented than the west and arguably more attractive with its hills and lochs set high above Loch Ness earning it the accolade 'Trossachs of the north' - but far less well known. I am biased as my granny came from Stratherrick.

South end of Loch Ness

Grazing Greylag Geese

Line of trees

Former abbey

Zig zag path up from from Loch Ness

Fort Augustus

New path with better surface than the A9 - not a pot hole anywhere to be found

Fellow walkers ahead

As the path crossed the moor we came across another fellow walker in the shape of a large stag. He got himself into a bit of a panic running alongside a fence until a high gate barred his way and his only option was back towards us. Stags that feel trapped could potentially be dangerous so we went off the path to give him space to pass, which he did very quickly and was last seen bounding away as if the devil was after him. We saw several other stags near Loch Tarff, which we had done the last time we were there. It seems to be a stag hot spot.


Loch Tarff

Look who came to meet us

Loch Tarff from new path



Once reunited with the car we continued along the B862 towards the junction for Foyers which would take us to lunch at Cameron's. But before we had gone far we reached the viewpoint over Stratherrick which was my granny's last requested place to visit before moving down to Yorkshire. She was born and brought up on a croft in Stratherrick and died a few years after that move south, so it's always a poignant spot for me.



We found it a lovely addition to the South Loch Ness Trail with its river, canal, lochs and wildlife along the way. Not a long walk for us but tagged on to the stretch from Loch Tarff to Foyers makes it a length to equal some of those on the West Highland Way.

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Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    South Loch Ness Trail   

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