Loch Ness Walk: Dores Beach and Aldourie Castle

This walk takes in the iconic view from Dores Beach, and then continues around the shore of Loch Ness to reach Aldourie Castle, a 17th century laird’s house.

Distance: We walked about 4.2 miles / 6.8km but it is possible to do much shorter walks, or indeed longer walks if you prefer. There are several shortcuts and choices in the Aldourie Estate woodlands.

Parking: There is a public car park in Dores village. Shortly after you enter the village, take the left turn signed parking (the sign can be obscured by foliage, so watch out for it carefully!). The parking is in front of the church. There is a very tight right turn to access the car park, so you may want to go up to the turning circle which make this easier. NB: Parking at the Dores Inn is for patrons only.

Amenities: No toilets or other amenities at the car park. Refreshments are available at the Dores Inn, and there is also a coffee van parked up here.

Pushchair/bike-friendly? The path along the back of Dores beach is suitable for all pushchairs (and I would think most wheelchairs). There is a slipway ramp so that you can access the beach. We took an off-road pushchair (Thule Cross) and a balance bike on this walk. Most of the route was on broad estate tracks, but there were some very muddy sections, and one fairly steep downhill near the end. I would say it was fairly suitable for off-road pushchairs, especially in dry conditions.

Aldourie Castle walk: the route

1. From the car park, turn left down the hill into the village. When you reach the Dores Inn, cross the road, and head through the car park to find Dores beach just behind the pub. When you have taken in the stunning view, you can either walk along the beach, or there is a firm level track running behind the beach, which can be reached through the car park (look out for the large boat).

2. If you are walking along the beach, turn right through a gap in the gorse just before the woods begin to join the main path. This then enters the woodland through a gate.

3. Follow the main path (the broad vehicle track) through the woods. There are a number of paths here and we’ve lost each other more than once when exploring/geocaching, so take care!

4. Continue along this path for about a mile. There are some views over Loch Ness to the left, and turnings uphill on the right if you want to take a short cut.

5. Shortly after a pond on the right, you will come to a gate. Go through the gate and continue on the main vehicle track. Look out for a small harbour with a pier, this is a beautiful spot.

6. After the harbour, the track heads uphill past a cottage. If you would like to see the castle, take a smaller path to the by the shore, just in front of the cottage. It passes through a small wooden gate, and then through Rhododendron bushes. After about 500m you reach the fence marking the edge of the castle grounds, and can get a good view of the castle. As my son said, “It’s more of a palace than a castle”!

7. Retrace your steps to the cottage. From here, you can continue on the main track to the next junction, and take a sharp right to walk back through the upper part of the woods. Instead of doing this, we actually took the path uphill through the woods opposite the cottage (the left hand of the two) in order to cut the corner. It was manageable with a pushchair but not easy.

8. Now turn to the right to take the main upper track back through the woods. This is a broad vehicle track of good quality.

9. After about half a mile (from the shortcut), the path divides into three. The left hand path skirts the edge of the woodland and comes down to the entrance gate. This is probably the best option, but it is quite tree rooty in places. On this occasion we took the middle path, which was quite muddy and dark at first, and brought us out along the edge of An Torr, with the wood sloping away steeply beneath us to the lochside. We then zigzagged down the hill to entrance of the woods.

10. Return either along the beach or the path behind to finish your walk.

There are quite a few choices of footpath in the woods, so it is worth taking a map or a GPS if you have one. If you keep a note of where Loch Ness is and where the fields are, you shouldn’t go too far wrong. Make it an exploring adventure!

Aldourie Castle walk: what is the terrain like?

The path behind Dores beach is firm, wide and level, and suitable for all pushchairs.

Once you enter the woods, most of the route is on estate vehicle tracks, and suitable for off-road pushchairs. There were some very muddy sections when taking this route in the winter.

We did not take our pushchair on the castle detour, but having now taken that route, I think it would have been possible with an off-road pushchair, though there were some roots and bumps in the path.

On returning from the castle, we chose to cut off the ‘point’ of the walk by heading straight uphill through the woods on the shortcut to the main upper path. This was doable with a pushchair, but not easy, due to the combination of a steep gradient and tree roots.

The final section of our route did involve a couple of rather steep downhills. If my memory serves me correctly, I think the gradient would have been gentler if we had turned left along the edge of the wood, but there are more tree roots in the path in that direction.

Things to look for

Look out for the Loch Ness monster! Will you see her making a brief appearance from the depths? The Nessie Hunter van is parked at Dores beach to inspire you.

There is a playpark just behind the beach too!

As you walk, look out for bright yellow gorse flowers, lichen, ancient trees, blackberries and blaeberries in season.

You might be interested in these other short walks around Loch Ness.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *