Fort Augustus to Loch Oich by bike

We are always on the hunt for bike routes suitable for the whole family. This is a great one! Almost entirely traffic free, with wide grit paths, suitable for a bike trailer. There are several lochs and bridges for interest, and a railway line with a tunnel.

Distance: From Fort Augustus car park to the route blockage part-way down Loch Oich, was 8 miles each way or 16 miles / 25km overall.

(At the time of writing, the cycle path beside Loch Oich is closed part-way down for logging, potentially until December 2024). Please do let me know in the comments if you cycle this way and it has changed.

Parking: We parked in the main car park in Fort Augustus for a small charge. Coming into Fort Augustus from the A82, look out for the car park on the right hand side of the main road. There is also a small car park at Bridge of Oich.

Amenities: Public toilets in Fort Augustus, and lots of shops and cafes. There are composting loos at Leitirfearn beside Loch Oich.

Caledonian Canal bike ride: the route

1. From the car park in Fort Augustus, turn right and go over the river bridge, then immediately right again on a small road beside the canal. As you go across the river, look right to see the piers of the old railway bridge.

2. The tarmac road finishes near the top of the locks, and becomes a gravel track. Continue on this track, sticking beside the canal.

2. After 2.5 miles you will reach Kytra Lock, where there are few cottages. We had a fantastic time here watching boats go through the loch.

3. After Kytra the canal continues much as it did before, reaching Cullochy Lock a further two miles down. The the surrounding hills become clearer as you approach Bridge of Oich.

4. As you approach the A82, you will see the original Bridge of Oich to your right. It is a single span suspension bridge, with a span of around 47 meters. The bridge opened in 1854 as a replacement for an older stone bridge which had been washed away by flooding. It is now a footpath. Our route however lies in the other direction. Turn left and cross the A82 swing bridge, looking out for a gate on the other side of the road immediately after the bridge.

This is a right turn across the busy A82. If you are with children who are not confident road cyclists, there is space to pull in on the left just across the bridge directly opposite the gate, so you could pull in and regroup there and wait for an opportunity to cross on foot.

5. The path is narrower here, but wide enough for a trailer. It curves to the left as the loch opens out, and there are some wonderful views here.

6. The path goes through a couple of deer fences and over a bridge to join the route of the Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway, closed in 1946. There is even a tunnel which our children loved!

7. The closed bothy at Leitirfearn is about two miles from the road junction. Look out for Invergarry castle across the water. A little further on, the way is closed currently for forestry operations. The sign indicates this may be until December 2024. Time to turn back and head home!

What is the terrain like?

We took two double children’s trailers with us on this route and had no issues with the width of the path. The surface was mostly gravel and grit, and there were quite a lot of potholes on the stretch around Kytra Lock.

There are two short stretches on the road. Firstly from the Fort Augustus car park to the canal, which involves a right turn across traffic. This felt slow and safe, but it is very possible to walk this short stretch on the pavement if you prefer for your children not to do this. Secondly, doing right turns across the A82 bridge at Loch Oich. This could be a little hairy depending on traffic conditions, because the road is fast. On the way out, we were able to cycle across the swing bridge ahead of the traffic, and pull in to the side to wait for a good moment to cross the road on foot. On the return (heading north), there was no suitable waiting place, so we had to wait in the road signalling right for a gap, not ideal with very young children on their own bicycles.

There are some gates to negotiate around Loch Oich, but these were manageable.

Things to look for

We cycled this way in the spring and saw beautiful wildflowers everywhere. There are also a number of interesting historic buildings, the canal and railway to see.

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