6 short walks around Loch Ness

Standing at the Dores end of Loch Ness, you can’t see the other end of the water, and that feels magical to me. It seems to go on and on, with the hills and forests rising on either side. Here are some suggestions for exploring those hills and forests, and getting more of a sense of this wonderful place. Of course, there are long distance trails (the Great Glen Way and the South Loch Ness Trail) and larger hills, Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh being the most prominent. This article is a list of shorter walks that could be accomplished in a half day or less, and are suitable for families.

The shores of Loch Ness are mostly wooded, and so I have to say there aren’t many walks here with stand-out views all the way along. You will normally just get a couple of viewpoints, and mostly forest. My favourites so far of the walks we have done are Abriachan (especially Carn na Leitire) and Dores to Aldourie Castle.

This list is in clockwise order around the Loch from Fort Augustus.

1. Allt Na Criche

Allt Na Criche walk with a misty Fort Augustus on the right

Distance: 1.8 miles / 3km

Allt Na Criche is a burn running up into the hills above Fort Augustus. The name means ‘the boundary stream’. The surrounding forest is managed by Forestry and Land Scotland, and there are a number of paths to explore. The Great Glen Way also passes through here. From the upper part of the walk you can see out over the end of Loch Ness and Fort Augustus….weather dependent! In common with many short walks here, the lower parts of the walk are swathed in forestry.

2. Craigmonie

Craigmonie, looking down over Drumnadrochit

Distance: 2.25 miles / 3.6km (beginning at Drumnadrochit village carpark)

From the top of Craigmonie, you can see all of Urquhart Bay and out across Loch Ness. The walk is worth it for the views alone, but this is also a site of historic interest, with an ancient hill fort on top of the crag. Follow in the footsteps of the Viking prince Monie, who made his last stand here after a failed invasion.

3. Abriachan Forest Trust and Carn Na Leitire

A replica Bronze Age roundhouse at Abriachan

Distance: It’s about 1 mile / 1.5 km to explore the walkways at the main Abriachan Forest Trust site. The walk to Carn Na Leitire and back is 2.5 miles / 4km with 150m of ascent.

Abriachan is one of our favourite places to go walking as a family. The main forest walkways are quirky and fun, with lots to see and do. It was one of the earliest community buyouts, and it is very impressive what the community has managed to achieve here. Above Abriachan is Carn Na Leitire (434m) which is an absolutely cracking hill for children. Not brimming with views of Loch Ness, but it’s still a fantastic place for a walk!

4. Dores Beach to Aldourie Castle

The view from Dores Beach

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. 

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. After leaving the beach, the walk is mostly through forestry, but there are views out over the northern tip of the loch through the trees.

5. Inverfarigaig

Loch Ness from Farigaig Forest

Distance: Our ‘unofficial’ route was 3 miles / 4.8km. The suggested Lochan Tòrr an Tuill Trail with red waymarkers is 1.75 miles / 2.9km.

Farigaig Forest is on the south side of Loch Ness, near Foyers. This walk takes in the Lochan Torr an Tuill, and has a viewpoint over Loch Ness, though this is rather obscured. In my opinion, this is not the best walk locally, but I have included it for completeness! The lower walk is swathed in deep forestry, whilst the upper stretch is a rather desolate landscape of felled trees.

6. Falls of Foyers

Falls of Foyers

Distance: 0.5 miles / 0.8km

This is a very short (and steep!) walk down to see the famous Falls of Foyers, tumbling down 50 metres into a pool below. It’s quite a spectacular sight. Take care on the path in wet weather; our walk guide has some photographs to help you decide if it’s suitable for you.

Do you have a favourite walk around Loch Ness? Let us know in the comments section below:

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