Loch Moy circular walk – a hidden gem

Loch Moy is one of the larger freshwater lochs near Inverness, but it is pretty much invisible from nearby roads. The start and end of this circular walk are rather dull, along the roadside pavement in Moy, but the spectacular walk along the far side of Loch Moy more than makes up for this.

Distance: 4 miles / 6.5km

Parking: Park in the main lay-by in Moy. From the A9, take the southern B9154 turning (i.e. the one further from Inverness). As you come into Moy, look out for a large layby on the left. You will know it is the right one because there is a beautiful carved wooden bench opposite (see photo!).

One of the beautiful carved wooden benches in Moy

Amenities: There are no toilets or other amenities on this walk.

Buggy/bike friendly? We took an off-road pushchair (a Mountain Buggy Duet) and several kids on bikes on this walk with no problems. See the terrain section below for more details.

Loch Moy circular – the route

1. From the parking layby, cross the road and turn right, walking along the main road footpath for half a mile. Turn left at the first junction, and you will see the Old School House (the first house you come to). The track forks in two in front of you; the left hand track is now blocked with rubble. Take the right hand track which heads downhill.

2. The track heads east, skirting the edge of a woodland on the left, with a small lochan on the right. Cross a bridge (this is the outlet of Loch Moy, and later joins the River Findhorn). Turn left where the track divides just before a white house, and pass through a gate.

3. The track rises gently for some time and briefly enters a forest. As you leave the trees, you get the first tantalising glimpses of Loch Moy down to the left, and then the view really opens up, with the Isle of Moy centre-stage. Look out for the obelisk on the island, a monument to Sir Aeneas Mackintosh. Can you spot the tiny islet of Eilean nan Clach?

4. Continue along the path, enjoying the glorious views. In fine weather we thought this was pretty nearly as good as it gets for an accessible walk in the Highlands! Look out for the Coffin Well on your left. On the other long side of the loch you will see Carn na Loinne and Carn na h-Easgainn. (Carn na-h-Easgainn is a surprisingly easy hill walk with children as a landrover track goes almost all the way to the summit).

5. The loch comes to an end, as most good things do. Continue along the main vehicle track. (You will see the grounds of Moy Hall on the left). The track goes through a gate and becomes a tarmac road at some houses. Continue on this road, taking a sharp left, and passing more houses and farm buildings.

6. We took a left turn through the second set of gates and followed the drive through the grounds of Moy Hall. Moy Hall is a private home, so please be respectful. The track continues past the southern end of the loch, and crosses the Moy Burn.

7. Shortly after the Moy Burn, the track comes to the main gatehouse, and the enormous main gates to Moy Hall. Pass through these, and turn left along the main road to return to the parking layby.

Loch Moy circular – the terrain

We had no major issues taking an off-road pushchair on this route. It is all on broad vehicle tracks, mostly in very good condition. There were some muddy patches in the Moy Hall grounds, and there are a lot of pine cones on the pavement of the B9154, which makes for a bumpy ride!

We also had some small children on bicycles. The first stretch of pavement along the B9154 is one of those uphills that you can barely see, but is quite hard work for little legs, especially with all the pinecones. Persevere! It gets much better once you turn off the main road.

History of Moy Hall

The current house is fairly modern, but there have been several Moy Halls on this site, and the area has been the home of the Mackintoshes for centuries. The most famous local story concerns the Rout of Moy in February 1746.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite army were on the retreat, having turned at Derby. With many desertions, they planned to regroup in the Highlands. Lady Anne Mackintosh entertained Bonnie Prince Charlie here at Moy Hall in February 1746. Interestingly, whilst Lady Mackintosh was a prominent Jacobite supporter, her husband was serving with the government army.

Government forces led by Lord Loudon in Inverness heard that the prince was nearby, and set out on a surprise attack with 1,500 men. However, somehow Lady Mackintosh was warned in time. A handful of Jacobite men, led by the local blacksmith Donald Fraser, were able to defeat the much larger government force using a cunning ruse.

The Lyon In Mourning Vol II by Robert Forbes takes up the tale:

The blacksmith (Fraser) and his trusty companions raised a cry (calling some particular regiments by their names) to the Prince’s army to advance, as if they had been at hand, which so far imposed upon Lord Loudon and his command (a pretty considerable one), and struck them with such a panick, that instantly they beat a retreat, and made their way back to Inverness in great disorder, imagining the Prince’s whole army to be at their heels.

The consequences were surprisingly far reaching. Trevor Royle, in his book ‘Culloden’ notes that ‘The ‘Rout of Moy’ (as it became known) encouraged Loudoun to believe that he could no longer hold Inverness. Three days later he was in Easter Ross on the other side of the Cromarty Firth.’ After the government forces moved to the Black Isle, Bonnie Prince Charlie was able to set up his headquarters in Inverness, in the run up to the Battle of Culloden.

On your walk you will see the Isle of Moy in the loch. There was originally a castle here, the home of the Mackintoshes before Moy Hall. There is also a large obelisk which is more visible from the lochside, a monument to Sir Aeneas Mackintosh.

As you follow the track through the grounds of Moy Hall, you will see a carved stone, bearing the Mackintosh arms and motto. “Touch not the cat bot a glove”. Can you spot the leaping wildcat?

Things to look for

Look out for beautiful carved benches, the Coffin Well, and the obelisk on the island in the loch.

You might also enjoy these other short walks in and around Inverness.

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