Off the Beaten Track – Hidden Hiking Trails Around Loch Ness Shores

Off the Beaten Track – Hidden Hiking Trails Around Loch Ness Shores

Uncovering the Enchantment of South Loch Ness

As I gazed out over the serene waters of Loch Ness, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of wonder and anticipation. The majestic mountains that cradle this legendary loch have long captivated the hearts of visitors, but it’s the hidden gems that truly ignite the spirit of adventure. Join me as I embark on a journey to uncover the enchanting hiking trails that wind through the untamed landscapes around the shores of Loch Ness.

Allt na Criche Trail: A Lush Woodland Wonderland

Our adventure began in the quaint village of Fort Augustus, where we decided to forgo the bustling crowds and head out on the Allt na Criche Trail. This short, 1.75-mile loop through the mixed birch and pine woodland offered a tranquil escape from the Nessie-hunting hordes. As we climbed steeply through the lush greenery, the sound of the Allt na Criche burn, or boundary stream, accompanied us. Reaching the waterfall, we were rewarded with a stunning view over Loch Ness, the rippling waters reflecting the surrounding mountains like a mirror. The final descent through the atmospheric pine forest left us feeling rejuvenated and eager to explore more of this captivating region.

The Dell Estate: Deer Encounters and Loch Paiteag

Stepping out from the cozy confines of the Loch Ness Shores campsite, we made our way to the Dell Estate, located just across from our accommodation. As we strolled along the woodland trail, our canine companion, Casper, suddenly caught the scent of something and stared intently into the trees. To our delight, a pair of red deer hinds emerged, gracefully crossing the path in front of us. Continuing our exploration, we reached the serene Loch Paiteag, surrounded by the breathtaking Highland scenery that has become the hallmark of this region.

Invermoriston: A Village of Hidden Gems

Leaving the tranquility of the Dell Estate, we ventured to the charming village of Invermoriston, located just a short drive from our campsite. This seemingly sleepy settlement proved to be a treasure trove of surprises, starting with the curious tale of Finlay Munro, a traveling preacher whose footprints are said to have been left behind after a heated sermon. We also discovered the enchanting Saint Columba’s Well, a holy spring where locals once feared to tread due to superstitions about its “poisonous” waters.

As we strolled along the riverside path, we were captivated by the impressive falls and picturesque bridges that graced the landscape, including the quaint old bridge and the newer Thomas Telford-designed structure. The highlight of our Invermoriston adventure, however, was the discovery of the Glen Rowan Cafe, where we indulged in a delectable homemade Smarties cookie, a true taste of Highland hospitality.

Loch Knockie: Rowing Adventures and Wildlife Sightings

Energized by our morning explorations, we decided to venture out on the water, taking advantage of the rowing boat available to guests at the Loch Ness Shores campsite. Donning our life jackets, we made our way to the picturesque Loch Knockie, located on the Knockie Estate. As I took the oars and set us adrift, we were treated to a mesmerizing display of swallows circling overhead and the occasional glimpse of fish jumping in the loch. Despite my husband’s initial struggles with the rowing, he eventually found his rhythm, allowing me to sit back and soak in the serene surroundings.

Whitebridge Hotel: A Highland Hideaway

No visit to the South Loch Ness area would be complete without a stay at the enchanting Whitebridge Hotel. This cozy, charming establishment has become a home away from home for us, with its vintage decor, quirky touches, and warm hospitality. From the moment we stepped through the door, we were enveloped in the hotel’s inviting atmosphere, complete with subdued lighting, vintage memorabilia, and even a nod to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Our room was a true delight, with a panoramic view of the surrounding woodland, river, and mountains, including the rocky peak of Beinn Sgurrach that we had conquered on a previous visit. As we sipped our drinks and gazed out the window, we were treated to a stunning display of nature’s beauty, from a magnificent rainbow to the graceful dance of bats against the fading evening light.

Indulging in Highland Cuisine

The Whitebridge Hotel’s culinary offerings are a true highlight of any stay, and we eagerly anticipated each meal. From the delectable Scottish pudding bon bons and the rich, spicy chicken curry to the mouthwatering Sunday roast complete with all the trimmings, every dish left us thoroughly satisfied. And when the sun was shining, we indulged in the hotel’s take on the classic Aperol spritz, savoring the Italian-inspired cocktail in the great outdoors.

Embracing the Seasons at Loch Ness Shores

As we reluctantly bid farewell to the Whitebridge Hotel and our South Loch Ness adventures, we couldn’t help but feel a sense of excitement for the future. Having experienced the enchantment of this region in both winter and summer, we eagerly anticipate the delights that spring and autumn will bring. Whether it’s the vibrant colors of the changing foliage or the cozy comfort of a fireside retreat, the Loch Ness Shores campsite and its surrounding trails promise to captivate our senses and fill our hearts with the magic of the Highlands time and time again.

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